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A critical view on things? Crucial skill for a refugee work project officer!

Akke de Hoog (26) is a Project Officer for Refugee Work who helps asylum seekers who have exhausted all legal remedies to orientate to their future and return independently to their country of origin. During her master Cities Migration and Global Interdependence at Leiden University, she learned about migration and the influence of international politics, climate and economy on different migration flows, migration laws and policies.

In her job, Akke has conversations with clients about becoming deported and about the future when they no longer have a legal perspective in the Netherlands. Together they make a plan for the future and examine whether return can be achieved sustainably and safely. This involves identifying obstacles and investigating, for example, whether the necessary medication is available and accessible in the country of origin. But they also look at the client's talents and possibilities for a new start. If someone is going to return to the country of origin, he or she is further guided by a local cooperation partner of Refugee Council. This partner is always an independent organization (NGO), part of a European network. They help the client for a year with reintegration and the obstacles involved.

Akke sees a lot of strengths of humanities alumni as Refugee Council project officers:

"Because of my study background, I have always been interested in coming into contact with people from different cultural backgrounds. In addition, I am pragmatic and I like to think about solutions. The project appealed to me because it offers help to people who are in an incredibly difficult situation but where they retain their own freedom to decide on their future. Moreover, guiding people on a personal level is a valuable aspect for me. Before I came to work here, I was a volunteer with Refugee Council for a year and a half. When I finished my studies, a position became available where I could fully focus on guiding clients. This was an excellent opportunity for me!"

During her master's, Akke gained the necessary intercultural skills and information and knowledge processing skills. In terms of interculturalism, she learned a lot about migration and the various intersections of migration, as well as the impact of history, international politics, climate and economics on different migration flows, migration laws and policies. She sees the outcome of these global developments at the local level in the people she counsels. In terms of information and knowledge skills, she has learned how to quickly take in large chunks of information. In her work, she deals with extensive files on individuals, so this skill is necessary. In addition, she has learned not to assume one truth and to be inquisitive as a humanities student. Akke indicates that it has taught her to think critically and be analytical, which she uses daily in her work.


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