It’s been 75 days since I left Minneapolis to pursue my Masters in Brussels. I first flew to Germany, and then got a ride to Belgium. All under U$ 330 Dollars. I wanna assure you I’m being as resourceful as I can with this grant, and that I’m thrilled to be a Rotary ambassador once again.
I recently started my master’s program at the Brussels School of International Studies, one of four satelite campi of the University of Kent in Europe. The original one being in Canterbury, England, where I will spend the last months of my study – expected to end in April of 2017.
Things aren’t how I thought they would be. They are better than I had hoped. I chose this school beause of the Political Strategy and Communciaton program they offered, but I have since stumbled upon their International Migration modules, and I found them to be fascinating. I chose that to be my secondary specialization, which will then get me an MA in Political Strategy and Communciation with International Migration, it’s not only a mouthful but also a handful.
In classes we have migration policy debates, we learn how to communicate issues and solutions effectively, and of course, we are examining the unprecedented humanitarian crisis heppening right now. With an appalling and unacceptable human cost, and an unparalleled number of refugees in recent times we see that there is unfortunately little hope that the situation will improve significantly in the near future. I can’t help but to think of Rotary and its leadership in humanitarian service.
During my first few days here I decided to get involved. I volunteered at a refugee camp that was set up last minute in a square in Brussels. Surviving from donations and thriving from the service of others. That same service above self you instilled in me.
The most shocking thing I have learned here is that 67% of Americans surveyed in July, 1938 believed we should try to keep refugees from Germany and Austria out of the US. And in January, 1939 61% said the government shoul not permit 10,000 refugee children, most of them Jewish, to enter the US.
I understand the historical and contextual differences between then and now. But it is very difficult to turn a blind eye to the echoes of the past when faced with the “xenophobic bidding war” of the present.
It was the truth, it was fair to all concerned, it built goodwill and better friendships and it was beneficial to all concerned.
PS: To learn more about what Americans thought of Jewish refugees on the eve of World War II check out this article from the Washington Post.