'I want to develop myself to make a positive contribution to our society.'
In the Netherlands you can develop yourself and conduct political activities: being able to do so is a social achievement according to the Iranian Hamed Saidi, a student at The Hague University of Applied Sciences who came from Iran as a refugee six years ago. But refugees are not fortune hunters, emphasises Hamed. ‘I want to develop myself to make a positive contribution to our society.’
‘I come from the Kurdish part of Iran. Because the Iranian regime was looking for me, I fled to Iraq when I was eighteen, which is now twelve years ago. I worked there for six years as a newsreader at the radio channel 'Freedom and Equality' of Komala, a socialist party in Iranian Kurdistan. Again, as a political activist I found myself in danger, so I was forced to leave my family and friends and flee. I ended up in the Netherlands by chance.’
‘I stayed in reception centres in the Netherlands for six months, after which I was allocated a house. Of course I am happy that I can study in the Netherlands and that I can also conduct political activities. I did not have such an opportunity in Iran. I participate in demonstrations against racism and discrimination against women and workers. The degree of freedom and security that we have here is a social achievement. We owe it to the struggle of social movements in the Netherlands.’
‘I did not have any secondary education. But even if you haven’t finished secondary school you can do a course in the Netherlands. You can gain access to such a course by taking the 21+ exam if you are older than 21. I purchased textbooks to teach myself English and economics for the Higher Professional Education in Business Administration MER (Management, Economics and Law) because the municipality only allowed me to attend a Dutch language course. Despite these obstacles, I passed the 21+ exam.’
‘When I could start with my Business Administration MER programme, it was very hard: both myself and other people did not expect me to get through this programme. But I have passed all subjects so far. I have set a challenging goal for my future: after my bachelor, I will also do a Master of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam. I want to further develop myself to make a positive contribution to our society.’
Together we are stronger
‘I am successful in my studies thanks to not only myself, but also the support of the UAF, my teachers, classmates and my environment. To be effective and successful, you have to work with other people. I encourage all refugees and the Dutch people to have motivation and self-confidence so that together we can make our society human. Do not expect to just get something for free; you have to fight for it and push yourself. Make sure you have a clear perspective; then you know where you are heading. If you are motivated to achieve your goals, you are more likely to realise them. It's called optimism. Together we are more successful.’