In our first year at UCG, we must choose a project to work on for the
rest of the year. The projects vary in subject focus, from the
environment to health, to social issues.
This year I am working on a project with around 15 other students that
focuses on the integration of refugees entering the Netherlands. Once
a refugee gets a residence permit, they start taking Dutch language
and culture courses, and at the end of three years they must take an
exam. In order to continue receiving support from the government, they
must pass this exam. However, this exam is often too difficult for
even Dutch people to pass, making it incredibly difficult for
refugees. As a group, we want to enable, empower, and support the
incoming refugees as they go through the integration process, so we
have developed a mentoring program.
This program would partner one to two students (from our project
group) with a refugee that is living here in Groningen; eventually as
a group we would be mentoring around 7 refugees. As a mentor, our job
would be to guide and refer them to the appropriate and available
resources they have access to as they integrate here. This includes
finding the right healthcare resources, legal resources and education
To be quite honest, getting it fully started and in motion has been
one of the most difficult parts, which is often the case, simply
because we are a group full of ideas and ambition.
The first two blocks of our project has mainly consisted of research.
We have had to learn a lot of the process that the refugees go through
in order to come here, as well as what is expected of the and what is
offered to them. We have met with refugees who have lived here for
some time, we have also had guest speakers from organisations that
work specifically with integrating refugees, and we have visited
asylum seeker centres in order gain a better understanding of their
experience upon arriving here. Through these experiences, we learn how
to properly guide and refer refugees to the proper resources and
While setting up the mentoring program is the biggest part of our
project, another part is making sure refugees get their voices heard.
We have set up a blog that will document our work and progress, and
publish the stories of the refugees we meet. We also hope to create a
photo series called the “Refugees of Groningen” by the end of this
As a group we meet weekly to discuss our progress and our goals. We
assign tasks for different students for the upcoming week, this could
include contacting certain organisations, visiting asylum seeker
centres, writing a report, etc. A lot has been done, but a lot more
still needs to be done. However, as a group, we are motivated and
excited for where this project will go, and hopefully you’ll here more
about it soon!
Asyana Eddy – First year student at UCG