21 blog posts series take twenty

21 blog posts series take twenty

Twenty: “Refugees and the art of welcoming”

Earlier in the week we were exposed to heart-breaking images around the world of people, including young children suffering terrible pain within a war struck Syria. These were innocent civilians suffering simply for being in the place they are in. I know we wouldn’t wish this on anyone, to attempt living life in these hazardous and chaotic conditions but when we don’t give the support to refugees who make the journey to emigrate abroad, we don’t leave them with much choice. Formalities and integration of refugees is a time consuming process but when we think of these innocent people dying, there has to be realisation that we must do more.

I just think it creates this falseness when we try to attract tourists to our country, proclaiming loudly and proudly how great a place is and how welcoming it is but when it comes to those who are in need of that welcome, the door often remains shut. I suppose this comes down to finances and available funds but when we look to history again, it can be noted that often at times, sacrifices were made in much more dire circumstances. We are doing humanity and our history a disservice by not allowing refugees in.

I feel that it’s naturally in us as people and even throughout the ages to travel to new parts and really there shouldn’t be barriers to that. We should be encouraged to move about, whether that be for leisure or necessity. I understand that each nation has its own identity and culture to be proud of but the idea of multiculturalism is not a punishment of any sort and shouldn’t tarnish that identity. I think that more often than not we learn from others’ backgrounds and there should be a mutual respect there both for our similarities and differences.

It comes down to the simple things that we want to pass on after we’re gone. How do we expect to teach our children to be inclusive towards others on the playground when the adults are not doing the same on the even bigger playground? This is not just to do with how refugees are treated but simply all minorities. Prejudices are created by us, we are the only ones who keep them alive by practising them out socially in some way or another. So it really comes down to asking if we want to keep this alive or we want to come across better than that in our chapter of history.

Multiculturalism enriches a society in tackling our close-mindedness that can sometimes prevail. If you’re proud of something, like your country and its identity, why wouldn’t you want to share it and show it off for the greatness you feel it has? Donald J Trump’s idea of making “America great again” is supposed to come about while refugees are being rejected and a travel ban is put in place. When you think about that in logical terms, what’s does “great” actually mean here – great for whom? Of course when we look to the history of America, it’s totally based off immigration but who’s listening to common sense in 2017 anyway.

I think that we have a long way to go yet before we are close to creating a fair and equal society, where each and every one are being welcomed to the table is something commonplace. But situations and decisions like Brexit and the obstructive policies of Trump’s Government are certainly steps backwards in this. I think we really need to listen to the stories from refugees to truly understand why they are making these journeys, often seen as nearly suicidal with slim chances of making it. But what do they face if they do make it? We shouldn’t be there to give more hardship to these people. We are all connected with the likes of diaspora and emigration, so why is there a negative dialogue around refugees now? This is nothing new and simply part of a changing world.

All photos are taken from my personal Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

21 blog posts series find four

21 blog posts series find four

Four: “Avoiding the pitfalls of relationships”

Relationships are complex things. This is because, as I’ve come to realise, every single person on this planet is different. In reality, you aren’t going to find your perfect match, your perfect date or even perfect person to spend a chunk of your time with (not in the space of a day anyway).

So to tackle that challenge, I propose two pieces of advice:

  • Don’t be a settler
  • Don’t be a chaser

Now it may seem difficult to do both as surely one of the above would be compromised, but if you really try hard enough and value yourself highly enough – both can be avoided to result in your own happiness coming first and foremost when letting someone into your life in an intimate way.

You don’t want to half ass it. You’ll be sharing your inner most complex thoughts, your body, soul and mind with this individual. Would you like someone who lashes out and blatantly blabs all of your personal business about the place if you guys were to break up? To answer that for you, no you do not.

So with that, don’t settle. If you’re not 100% about a person, don’t push yourself into a situation that you aren’t fully comfortable with. Settling does not look good, I can tell you that much.

But neither does chasing. I guess in truth, it’s a form of desperation and need that may come across as a little bit over the top. I think chasing is nearly worse than settling as you just waste your own time, not being yourself and fitting in to someone else’s agenda (and they might not even realise that you’re going to such efforts).

I admit that this advice is coming from my own guilty conscience of having participated in both of these scenarios. Honestly, neither of the two makes you feel any way good about yourself. You aren’t be true to you or the other person involved and really that’s not fair to anyone. If this is happening, the reality of it is that both people could be off exploring other paths elsewhere, it’s a bit of a time wasting activity.

Now to take you to a metaphor.

I was on airplanes twice last week, going and coming home from the Netherlands. I realised that no matter where you sit on a plane, it’s impossible to see out from both windows at the side of the plane and once.

Now this does leave the passenger in a bit of a dilemma, where do they look? Which side will bring them more satisfaction in terms of the view? Or which side will they be disappointed to look at?

This comes back to the settling vs. chasing argument. If you’re too focused on the view from one side, you’ve settled for it and it is impossible now to see any of what’s happening on the other side.

When you focus too much on one person for too long, and in really being honest with yourself you see that the view isn’t changing – you’re missing out on the potential views from the other side.

This is the same of potential relationships. If you spend all your time chasing the one person, you could be just punishing yourself by missing what’s really going on around you in terms of the full picture.

So I would say, take a step back. Look away from the window. If it’s right and meant to be, the attention of the person should make its own way back to you, or even notice your absence as you take your focus away from them.

I admit that this is something challenging, but these things are sometimes truly impossible to control. Being kind to ourselves should be first and foremost.

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/

 

21 blog posts series take two

21 blog posts series take two

Welcome back.

Day two brings us to the topic of travel, in that of appreciating how easy it is for us as EU citizens, the opportunities and adventures out there available to us.

Two: “Appreciating the ability to travel”

It feels strange writing about travel at a time like this. Just hours earlier on today, the city if London that I visited the week after my 21st birthday saw horror in the form a terrorist attack. The chaotic scenes flashed on to my TV screen when I arrived home today and took it all in. It felt strange to recognise the area so vividly, but it looking utterly different from the positivity I had seen there in early December.

I think in one sense of it, the aim of terrorism is to contribute in the form of creating that scene of distress, to take away the positivity associated with a place and flip everything over to show complete destruction instead. Destroying everyday like in causing heart-breaking chaos.

Of course following this, we’ll have heightened security and possibly further fear formed. I understand that this is of course necessary to protect citizens.

But I think to keep the sense of appreciation of traveling and staying true to ourselves as humans, travel and ease of travel needs to be part of what makes up human life. If we think of a world without integration and travel, without the mix of different cultures, people and places – I really don’t see that as a colourful or warm place to be.

Travel is essential and we are so lucky to have the ease of travel that we have. Just last week I went to visit a friend in Amsterdam, Holland. We also have another friend there who is studying on Erasmus. If the indicators around free travel within the EU and the systems of Erasmus were to change, these incredible experiences and opportunities for personal growth wouldn’t be possible. I’ve seen my friends grow and truly appreciate travelling, whether that be in the form of Erasmus, J1’s or even inter-railing. It’s all about the ability to interact like that and do so at ease. To really make travel your own independently.

I will admit that acts of terrorism can play a part in jeopardising that freeing mindset.

But one negative should not outweigh the endless positives. I think travel is something organic and easily integrated into our regular lives. It can play a huge role in the development of friendships and relationships, continued on wherever the people may be in the world.

Travelling to new places as a young person can really contribute to someone’s confidence as well as their own perspective on various things in the world, from humane issues to climate issues. It’s such an eye opening thing that I think everyone should get involved with in some shape or form. There’s an explorer or adventurer in us all and whether that be a big or small part of you, it cannot be ignored.

Also if indeed you are a bit of a home bird, I really think that you have to go away and come back to truly appreciate what you’ve missed and value your sense of belonging that comes with the security of home.

Being in the EU is such a resource to encourage us to travel. The dedication in the form of policy really places value of travelling during your youth and that in itself gave me a high appreciation for the mentality behind it. The inter-railing and Erasmus experience can be costly but in the end it’s something truly priceless. To put yourself somewhere new, challenges you to open your mind to new ideas and be immersed in something totally new.

The very best of luck to those taking on such a challenge and my heart goes out to those in London today.

 

All images used are from my personal Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cathyleex/