Let’s say today, the 18th of December 2015, the International Day of Im/migrants, a truth

By Dora Vangi

Here in Greece, we tend to connect the word “immigrant” with the black people we see in the streets, the Pakistani who work by the traffic lights, the criminals, the people who do not speak Greek fluently, the refugees who were forced to leave their country, the ones who live in Viktoria or Patisia and those who work in construction. Let’s leave all these stereotypes behind and let’s see today, the 18th December, the International Immigrant Day, the truth. What does it mean to be an immigrant in 2015?

According to the definition given by UN, migrant is the person who leaves his (home) country on his will, in order to improve his living conditions, find a (better) job and reunite with his family. Migration is a brave act of one person’s willingness to overcome the difficulties and live a better life. Especially today, the globalization in combination with the progress in communications and transportations has contributed significantly to the rise of the number of people who want and have the ability to move to countries rather than their home-country.

An immigrant is the Albanian who works in construction doing his job which you, the Greek guy, reject, the Nigerian who plays in your favorite football team, the Pakistani who came in Europe for a better life, the Ukrainian who has her own infirmary. It is your children’s Russian teacher, the Greek who works in a bar in Canada because he could not find a job here in Greece or the Greek professor in a foreign University. It is your child or your friend whom you miss. It is all the people, who face the same difficulties in the country they have chosen to live, speaking the foreign for them language in a cute way, trying to build their life away from the safety provided by their beloved ones and they all have the same courage and are human all the same. I am asking you today to honor them, to respect them and I declare that it is me at least, who envies them. I envy them, because they are stronger, they know better the world and themselves. Because for better or for worse, they are more human.

Today, on the International Day for migrants, we repeat our commitment to form a society who respects diversity, provides equal opportunities, secures the dignity of all migrants, and we say out loud that migration is the highest expression of the human ambition for dignity, security and a better future.