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Integration is a misleading term

Shams Raza is a project manager and coach at the Utrecht School of Governance. After completing his study in Psychology in Pakistan he fled to the Netherlands in the early seventies. 'Personal networks are crucial when you're making a home for yourself.'

I stimulate participation of Dutch people with a foreign background through sports. I also coach highly educated foreigners who have come to the Netherlands. I teach them how they can participate as much as possible in Dutch society. I deliberately speak of participation instead of integration: I find integration a misleading term. Integration suggests that you have to give up your own identity. Of course you have to give up certain habits and rituals if you move to another country, but that does not change who you are: I am still a Pakistani.'

'Building up a personal network is very important to make you feel at home. When I came here, I immediately took up voluntary work at the trade union and at our local hockey club. I like the fact that Utrecht University is non-hierarchical. You also notice this when you're teaching: there is far more interaction between teachers and students than there is in Pakistan. I try to introduce this interactive way of teaching at the Pakistani Universities. In this way, I can bring a piece of the Netherlands to Pakistan.'