"Migration means several things to me: challenge, adventure, loneliness, friendship, nostalgia, discovery and solidarity. I am discovering all of these things as a communications officer in Paris, where I moved from London after having completed a masters in multimedia journalism. I left Barcelona, my hometown, looking for job opportunities, academic goals and personal experience, and though I might not have gone so far away, I am still a migrant.
I try to always remember how privileged I am for enjoying this time of my youth in such great cities, but still, I can't help feeling the wounds of the distance. Therefore, it's important for me to stand by other migrants, especially those whose situations are more difficult and complicated than mine. I try to do this every now and then by participating in equality demonstrations, writing articles in support of the cause and helping at food banks.
Empathy is the most important quality. We all have to try and understand why people leave their countries and lives behind. My advice to someone living in a country that hosts migrants is to put yourself in their shoes, think about your own children, and keep in mind that even a small action from yourself could make the difference. Take nothing for granted, talk to migrants, help them build a warm home and be part of the community. People can make things better for new arrivals by staging protests on the streets and challenging authorities and traditional political parties by forcing them to apply new, welcoming policies.
For those who leave their homes to go elsewhere, I would say: do not hesitate to ask for help, most locals will welcome you wherever you go, but be weary of headlines and first impressions. Integration takes time, but once you achieve it in your own way, it can be a source of freedom, cooperation and relief."
This story is brought to you in partnership with The Refugee Cultural Festival, 2017 edition. The festival was launched to encourage small, local actions to embrace diversity and support those forced to leave their homes due to war, famine and climate change. Learn more about the festival and donate by clicking here.