"When my partner was accepted to a university program in Lausanne, Switzerland, we decided to come here together. This was one of our shared experiences of the human phenomenon that is migration, however this was not my first experience. I have already been through it once before, when I, myself, came to the Netherlands as a refugee several years earlier. My own experiences as a refugee have always motivated me to do something for others. In my professional life, I have assisted qualified refugees with the integration process, which I have done for many years in the Netherlands and beyond.
Since coming to Switzerland, I no longer deal professionally with migration, but this does not mean that the issues are far from my heart. I urge all people not to be afraid of new cultures that are different than their own. It is important for all new comers to learn about the culture and values of their new home.
Those in the host country should try not to put migrants into a box, because they are all different people with varied backgrounds. And remember that every migrant might have different needs and circumstances. So instead of insisting on offering help, we can try to learn from them, seeing them as strong individuals that are our equals, rather than people who automatically need help."
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.