“Spain and Europe have done so much for me. I want to repay that.”: Interview with former refugees in Valencia International Session

Today we have the largest refugee population in Europe since WWII. That’s why in 2017 EYP partnered with UNHCR. Together we take the issues of migration, statelessness and asylum to young people. At all International Sessions EYP also invites delegates who were stateless persons or refugees themselves to take part in the event. At the International Session in Valencia we talked to Spanish citizens and former refugees Saro Bakhig (17), Lina Amer Baker (20) and Beyzanur Inal (19):

Can you tell us a bit more about yourselves?

Lina Amer Bake: I’m from Baghdad in Iraq, but I live in Madrid for two years and a half. I study and volunteer in different associations for refugees. I would like to study Psychology to be able to help children and adult refugees who suffer from the loss. One day I would like to have my own association that gives free psychological sessions to people who suffered from loss and don’t have access to psychological help.

Beyzanur Inal: I already learned so much about all the different countries from coming to EYP. When I was still in Turkey I didn’t know that much about Europe. But as I am now a person who lives in Europe I have to learn about it, I have to contribute something. In Madrid, I try to do as much as I can with volunteering in different associations for refugees.

Saro Bakhig: I’m from Aleppo in Syria. I’ve been living in Barcelona for 5 years now. I’m 17 years old and I’m going to finish high school this year and then decide what I will study. I volunteer because Spain and Europe have done so much for me and I want to repay that in a way. I try to do more every year.

The International Session of Valencia was your first encounter with EYP. How was that?

Lina: It’s so amazing to meet all these different people from different countries. At the Eurovillage I learned so much about all the different countries of Europe. From how to say “hello” and “thank you” in different languages to all kinds of different traditions and customs in different countries that I can also apply in my own life as an Iraqi/Spanish girl. The experience has changed my worldview.

Beyzanur: The people at EYP are really open-minded and welcoming to everyone. It felt very motivating. Als because at the International Session you are developing yourself academically, mentally and psychologically. It had a huge effect on my personal life. I felt better.

Lina & Saro: Totally agree!

What struck you the most about the International Session?

Saro: The fact that we are just teenagers and that we are able to think about such serious topics and work out solutions by putting our minds together and work together as a team on issues that people with much more responsibilities are normally working on is mind-blowing.

Lina: You can just see how much smarter and stronger we are if we all work together. It’s a good thing to ask for help, to listen to each other and exchange ideas. The keywords I learned from the experience are “listen actively”. People at EYP listen to you to try to understand you, not just to answer back as we usually do. I feel that here people listened to me and I learned to listen actively.

Beyzanur: And the most important thing: respect for each other. People can have different opinions, but we all respect each other. We know that we are different but we can still all work together.

What was the thing you most looked forward to at the International Session?

Beyzanur: The General Assembly, because I had no experience with that and I was really excited to present our work and ideas to other people.

Lina: Me too. It’s a way to learn to speak in public about our ideas and to get our message across to other people. It’s about improving our skills. But it’s also nice to see a lot of people listening to the ideas that we came up with.

Saro: I learned that the resolutions we presented at the General Assembly, will be presented to the European organisations that are dealing with the issues we discussed and that our resolutions could eventually affect the way we live in Europe. So it’s a very important job that we partake in.

Lina: That’s what we are all hoping for: to make a change.


To learn more about the EYP’s partnership with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), please click here.