Hasan (21) fled from Syria to the Netherlands and invites you for a cup of coffee.
“All the unknown is exciting, that is why it is so important that refugees and Dutch people come into contact with each other”, says Hasan. He fled from Syria to the Netherlands. On June 20, World Refugee Day, he serves coffee with other refugees and the Dutch Council for Refugees between 8:00 am and 1:00 pm at the station in Nimwegen.
Studying or the army
You would not say it if you heard him speak Dutch, but Hasan is only 2,5 years in the Netherlands. At the age of 18 he fled to the Netherlands with his uncle to escape the dangerous military service. His father, mother, brother and sister stayed behind. “It is war in Syria. That’s why many boys who turn 18 have to go into the army. I did not want to go into the army, but to study. That is why I decided to leave Syria. “
Take the initiative yourself
Meanwhile Hasan is following a transition year at HAN (University Arnheim Nimwegen), so that he can then start his study Civil Engineering. When he asks if he feels at home in the Netherlands, a smile appears from ear to ear. “The Netherlands is really my home! The Dutch generally take little initiative to get to know you, but if you take a step yourself, almost everyone reacts positively. That’s why I like to hand out coffee on June 20: then I just come to the people myself! I hope people do not think it’s weird that I just want to drink a cup of coffee. Probably they think that I am very different, because I come from a different country. But I really do not think so. For me, everyone is just the same.”
People of the hour
Yet Hasan has already found a few differences between Dutch and Syrians. Hasan: “Time for example! Everyone is always on time. If you have to go to work I understand that, but even if I have a meeting with friends and I am 5 minutes late I get to hear that already. Recently I got a message from a friend, if I wanted to come and eat with her in three months. That’s really going too far for me, haha! In Syria we did everything much more spontaneously, then we often called the same day if it came true. That is really a big difference with how it goes in the Netherlands.”
We do not know our neighbors
Another difference, according to Hasan, is the low level of contact with the neighbors. “I knew everyone in my village in Syria. Here I literally know only one neighbor in the flat where I live.” Yet Hasan is far from lonely. He quickly made friends: both people of Dutch descent and people with a foreign background. “I have left some contacts with my time at the asylum seekers’ center. People came by to meet us. I also met people at school. And I do volunteer work at a foundation that organizes fun activities for children and young people in asylum seekers’ centers. My colleagues there are now also really good friends. “