Some notes from the conference in Rotterdam

19 May 2024

  • The conference had several top-skilled speakers with a lot of expertise focusing on how small and non-costly measures can be used to improve integration and daily relationships regarding migration

  • An important focus on what migration means about Europe, the EU in an institutional sense, and different ideas of European identification since migration is for different reasons often seen as a national-level topic

  • Important conclusions about different needs and ideas to improve education with the apparent focus on Bildung and the more life-long learning behaviors. 

  • Some personal reflections about the ironic and absurd feelings because the day after the conference, I read about how the far-right PVV party in the Netherlands won the second-largest number of seats in Rotterdam city council by presenting immigrants and migration as the main reason for the housing problem. Leading to the conclusion that next year we could maybe organize a conference about migration and housing (and indirectly about sadly why stupid and bigoted political communication tends to be efficient) 

I recently attended a Europe-wide educational conference on migration and integration in Rotterdam. Much of what was discussed there was interesting, insightful, and reflective. I had the opportunity to listen to several experts, academics, and knowledgeable individuals. Among others, I met researcher Bi Puranen, responsible for the well-known World Values Survey in Sweden.

However, what stuck with me more was my own experience staying with my parents' friends who came to the Netherlands as war refugees from Bosnia in the 1990s. Considering my history, this was an emotional and special experience for me. During this time, I also met one of their neighbors who had also fled from Bosnia during the war. She shared uncomfortable moments and what can happen during trips to Bosnia, where she has to explain to her neighbors that they need to call her in advance and agree on a time for a meeting or dinner. This is because, in Bosnia, it is common for people to walk in without even knocking on the door or taking off their shoes.

The reactions she received were along the lines of "Who do you think you are now?" or "Come on, you're not over there now." One of my colleagues described a daily occurrence that falls within the scope of the "immigrant's tragedy" - that one can face criticism and adverse reactions in two countries because one is never entirely accepted. In one country, you are an immigrant, and in your place of birth, you are met with jealous reactions.

Such behaviors can certainly occur within countries, as seen with migration from rural areas to big cities (think of the 2000s film Masjävlar). Still, they become even more emotional when they occur between countries and world regions.

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