24 March 2017

Meet three young immigrants in the Netherlands


Dr Koen Leurs (Department of Media and Culture Studies) made three video portraits of three immigrants in the Netherlands. The portraits are related to his research project ‘Young Connected Migrants’.

Young Connected Migrants

This project considers how expat and refugee young people living in the Netherlands digitally encapsulate themselves in bubbles and develop a cosmopolitan stance towards others. Previously, digital practices of forced migrants and expatriates were studied in isolation. This comparative project highlights power relations, reveals continuities and discontinuities and nuances understandings of “who migrants are” .

Drie portretten

The three video projects are about three young refugees in the Netherlands. 

Wael is a 22 year-old human rights activist from Douma, Syria who currently lives in Maarssen (the Netherlands). Wael uses Facebook to posts photos and videos to show “who we are”, and “why we are here”. Wael wants to inform fellow Dutch people and Europeans about  Syrian society and the Syrian people. In his words “We are not just like any people (who migrate). We are educated, we had a civilization. We were the oldest country in the world. I want to show this to the Dutch people – this helps also to integrate faster”. You can learn more about Wael’s investment in achieving dialogue between Syrian refugees and the general Dutch population on the website of the Integration Caravan project. Using a typically Dutch way of transportation, this project involves Syrians who travel to Dutch towns and cities in a caravan to get to learn more about the Netherlands and to establish dialogue and connection.

Abdullah is a 22-year-old “computer & smartphones expert & website developer” from Yemen who currently lives in Amsterdam. Abdullah spends 11-12 hours per day online using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. In the words of Abdullah ‘my battery is my best friend’ and he jokingly wrote down during our meet-up he was ‘sleeping with my keyboard actually :)’.  Abdullah completed an internship as part of the young connected migrants project, providing technical assistance.

Obbay is a 20-year-old pianist. He started studying piano at the conservatory of Homs (Syria) in 2014, and continued this study in 2016 at the conservatory of Harlem in the Netherlands. He specialises in solo piano concerts. Obey has performed with famous musicians including the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble and the Adonia-trio in various important venues in the Netherlands, including the concertgebouw in the Netherlands, as well as several festivals. Also he was invited to several big Dutch TV shows including Paul de Leeuw and Paul Witteman. You can find Obbay’s YouTube channel here.

The video portraits were filmed by 21-year-old Syrian filmmaker Karim Shalhoub, in cooperation with ImagineIC. The portraits were partly funded by NWO, CCHR and ICON.