Europe—Seeing Beyond the Sights

Europe is a beautiful continent, rich in history and full of iconic landmarks. It’s also full of people--741 million according to recent estimates. 741 million people with diverse backgrounds and life experiences.  And with diverse needs.

Spend some time sitting next to the Eiffel Tower and you’ll see a breathtaking feat of architecture. You’ll also see young men from central Africa and South East Asia selling trinkets and souvenirs. How did they get there? What did they flee from? What were they hoping for in coming to France?

Or spend an afternoon walking through the Botanical Gardens in Brussels and you’ll see French Baroque buildings and an Italian garden. Walk a few blocks over and you’ll see women of various nationalities selling themselves. How many of them are there against their will? What were they promised to lure them here? Work in a restaurant or as a model? An education?

This is some of what I saw on a recent trip away from my normal stomping grounds. Diverse people, diverse needs. But also, diverse response. One of the things that’s amazed me in working with refugees in Germany is the mixture of people I’ve worked alongside—locals and foreigners, with the government or an NGO, students and retirees. The same was true in these other cities I visited. Groups of people had seen a need and were working together to do something about it. Everything from raising awareness of human trafficking to providing after school activities for refugee children.

It’s amazing and an honor to be a part of.

Lynnae Kruis

Inter-cultural Research Expert