Changes and Chances

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If you haven’t heard about the refugee crisis in Europe you must have been living under a rock. Lately I’m struggling to even call it a crisis. How dare we? A crisis? This? Compared to what these people have been through this is nothing. However you may call it though, it’s a tough job to coordinate and find a solution for. Daily, thousands of people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries flee their homes because they fear for their lives. They pack whatever they can carry, and embark on a journey that is almost life-threatening in itself.
I’ve been very vocal in how I think about this for months. It’s a subject that’s very dear to my heart ever since I had the chance to closely work together with refugees during an internship a couple of years ago. It was eye-opening in so many ways. There are so many misconstructions and stereotypes that get perpetuated through the media and public. It’s heartbreaking to see these articles and vicious words when I’ve experienced nothing but kindness and thankfulness from the refugees and asylum-workers I’ve met back then.

Politicians play with the fear of people. And yes, change is coming. This will change our society. It might change the way we’re living but if we act now, if we are open-minded and kind, I am convinced that it will change us for the better. It is up to us to determine in which direction we will go in the future. Change is scary. Trust me, I know. It is terrifying. But do you know what else is terrifying? Having to leave your house, your family, your job. Having to leave your secure and stable life in your home country to endure inhumane and degrading conditions of refugee camps. Having to risk your life multiple times just to reach a continent where you don’t have to fear for your life day after day.

Fear is what makes it easy to portray refugees as something we should be scared of. That it’s okay to be hostile because they’re just here to steal our jobs and want to take over our culture and traditions. The key to combat these fears is, in my opinion, information and education. Don’t just blindly believe what people tell you. The fact that people still believe refugees and asylum seekers in Austria get a ton of money for being lazy is mind-blowing to me. They get 40€ pocket money per month and they are, in most cases, not allowed to work. They would love nothing more than to be a productive part of society, but our laws forbid this. Why can’t we see this as a chance? A chance to grow, a chance to learn more about other cultures. Why are we not thinking about all the things we could gain, instead of those we could lose?

And so we spent last Saturday marching the streets of Vienna to show our support and demand humane asylum policies. We danced and sang along to songs at the charity concert even though our legs hurt from standing for so long. We made new friends, met old ones and fell in love with Vienna all over again.

Vienna, you can be so heartbreakingly beautiful and kind. I want more of this. I need more of this. Please.

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