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Reflection after a midterm reflection

Edited on

22 April 2020
Read time: 5 minutes

The Welcoming International Talent project has finished their mid-term reflection and is half-way the project. First part of the project went great, but some things have changed. Read all about our project lead Jan-Kees' reflection after the mid-term reflection.

Group photo Welcoming International Talent Bielsko Biala

Four months ago, in Bielsko- Biała, The Welcoming International Talent project did its midterm reflection.

And all was well. We were well on schedule, our partners showed that there was in deed transfer and learning, we left Bielsko in a good mood: yes, the project was working beautifully. We were looking forward to our next transnational meeting, in Leuven.

And then a tiny but complex group of molecules changed the world. First in China, but it soon spread to Italy, to our great worries, the hometowns of our Italian colleagues and friends and in the economic heart of Italy. And it went on, to all of our countries. We decided to postpone the April meeting in Leuven to June, and then even to after the summer.

And now we are in shock, waiting to see what happens, not daring to make plans for any near future. We try to make sense of a senseless world, by making lists and models, we are, in the words of the Dutch philosopher Rene ten Bos, the accountants of the apocalypse.

The Covid-19 virus is having a deep impact on the core of our project, migration and globalization. The people that we try to welcome in our cities are very vulnerable. If they’ll fall ill, they’ll lack access to medical facilities, they are lacking information, they are isolated from their normal social circles, from their families and friends in the place they may call home. Many lesser skilled workers and seasonal workers are extra vulnerable, being caught behind closed borders, not having acceptable standards of housing, unable to keep social distance, un- or under insured, with no social security safeguards.

The next few years, the influx of internationals will be disrupted. How severe is a matter of speculation. For Groningen, we know that the influx of international students next year will be low, the growth of our universities will likely change in a decline. Our International Welcoming Center will see a setback of a year or more. Immigration has all but halted in the Netherlands.

In my personal reflection on the learning journey of this URBACT project, the bus we all embarked on, has been involved in a traffic accident. We are picking up ourselves, shaking of the shock, and trying to regain our bearings. The bus can be fixed, but will never be the same again. The passenger can carry on, but they will always be aware of the vulnerability of life.

We can’t ignore that Corona has changed the way we look to migration, and we will not. In the remainder of our project, we will not only transfer the ‘best practice’, but we will try to learn from this terrible pandemic. The learning journey never ends, but we may arrive a with a bit of a delay, possibly at a different destination!

In the meantime:

Stay home, Keep your distance, stay safe, but most of all, celebrate every day of living!