Connecting Hands, a UT Student Union association, regularly organizes activities for asylum seekers with the vision of helping them to integrate into Dutch society and to add some excitement to their lives.
Connecting refugees and students to aid integration
‘On a daily basis, these refugees take Dutch lessons, do volunteer work, or play sports,’ says Tom Groenewold from the Connecting Hands committee. They are not yet legally allowed to work, and some have been waiting in the asylum centre for nearly 2 years to receive their residence permit.
‘Living at the AZC centre, the refugees don’t experience much integration inside their communities since Azelo is a small city, so they would need to go out of the city to interact with Dutch people,’ adds Tom Groenewold. ‘As a result, life can get quite boring. That is where the Connecting Hands team comes in.’
Connecting Hands has previously hosted a soccer game and a campus tour, volleyball, a barbeque, and a computer course for these refugees. Whereas in the past mostly men have participated, more women have recently started joining the activities. Tom Groenewold says it is encouraging to see how enthusiastic these refugees are to join in these various activities.
600 refugees no longer coming to Enschede
Groenewold adds that Connecting Hands is disappointed because, due to Europe’s new deal with Turkey, 600 refugees will no longer be coming to Enschede. While they had plans to organize a buddy system which pairs a UT student with a refugee to show them around the university, these events unfortunately cannot occur.
Yet, Groenewold remains optimistic for 2017. While Connecting Hands’ future events are still in the planning stages, they intend to organize a dance evening and lectures with information about studying in the Netherlands, and further work with their Women’s Sub-Committee.ay