Global Citizenship Series, 2nd Edition – “Opportunities of Migration”
- 4 min read
The second seminar of 2017, part of the ongoing Global Citizenship Series at Hotelschool The Hague, was held at the campus of The Hague on 28 March. During this event, Louk Burgers – a Dutch entrepreneur with a great dream – spoke about the realities he has faced working with and for refugees in the past three years.
Shortly after he began his presentation, Mr Burgers asked participants to state their country of origin, quickly revealing that most of those present came, in fact, from all over the world – countries of origin included China, India, France and many others. Our guest speaker took this opportunity to introduce his friend and colleague “Mo”, who stood up from the audience to answer the earlier question with “Syria”. He then took the stage and shared a number of heart-warming and, at times, concerning stories about his journey to Europe in early 2015.
Among the primary take-aways from the half-hour presentation of Mr Burgers and Mo, was the fact that negative public backlash regarding refugees has primarily come from a place of ignorance. Concretely, most of the barriers the two have faced in setting up PitZtop – their refugee-run company – came under the form of misinformed citizens fearing those who came to seek asylum, simply because they did not know them. To solve these issues, several “meet-n-greet” sessions were set up within certain local communities, allowing people to come and have a chat with those they “feared”. The results were always positive.
Mr Burger’s conclusion at the end of his speech was that he no longer views these people as refugees, but simply migrants – people with great potential and entire futures ahead of them. To this end, his business idea aims to create an ever-increasing, self-sustaining community built by and for refugees, where they can work, learn and develop the skills necessary, so that they may one day open their own businesses and properly integrate into the society that has welcomed them.
The end of the presentation was punctuated by an extensive Q&A session where various points were tackled – from cultural perspectives to financial viability.
After a five-minute break, Mr Huizing took the floor as Chairman of the debate. Two teams of students were assigned the motion “The EU should no longer distinguish between refugees and economic migrants”. After an intense session which had the whole jury on the edge of their seats, the debate ended in a landslide victory for the opposition.
An hour of networking brought the evening to a close and allowed participants to have their own, mini-debates over beers and snacks.
The GCS Team would like to thank all guests and attendees for participating.