Embracing Multiculturalism: A migrant perspective

This blog is part of a series published on WEFLIVE from young leaders in the One Young World community who are addressing issues across the world relating to the World Economic Forum 2017 theme of 'Responsive and Responsible Leadership'.

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Multiculturalism in all its glory and intricate complexities; an interweaving of varying languages, diverse cultures, and differing manners of thinking is increasingly becoming rejected. The ever present ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality, is now gaining momentum as individuals turn inwards towards what is familiar and consequently abandoning the enriching experience that accompanies globalisation.

The concept of tolerance is one that speaks to my experience both personally as a migrant and professionally as a Mental Health Counsellor working within the non-governmental sector with refugees and migrants. As a Mental Health Counsellor working with refugees, many have questioned the difference in my working within such a culturally diverse context as opposed to working with mental health in a more local field. I find myself faced with the consistent presentation of contradicting realities. Certain news channels portray the refugee crisis as a ‘dangerous’ permeation into the West, and anti-migrant rhetoric infiltrates social media with migration being portrayed as a ‘perilous’ notion. Yet, my day to day life is brimming with the on the ground reality of globalisation and migration; I am nurtured by meeting multifarious individuals who are minorities, migrants and refugees, many of them yearning to be welcomed within their newfound location they wish to someday call ‘home’.

Interestingly, what has always drawn me towards practicing counselling lies in the therapeutic alliance embodying a dual journey of both therapist and client discovering the true essence of humanity. As Stephen Grosz, a psychoanalyst once said counselling at heart lies in the extraordinary process of talking, listening and understanding. A client taps, the counsellor listens. Albeit extraordinary, this somewhat simple process is not only present within the confines of the therapy room, it is present in our everyday lives. Every single day, humanity in all its intricate complexities taps for our attention. All we have to do as the Millennial generation is just listen.

Finally, as a Millennial witnessing the rise of populism and the far-right movement, I am struck at the entrenched tension that accompanies our generation. Millennials are the most global and vocal generation, essentially an expansion of multiplicity; a mosaic of differences in sexual orientation, diverse in our social, cultural, geographical and religious boundaries and yet inextricably tied in our interconnection through social media. Attending the One Young World Summit in Ottawa this year only served to highlight this very fact by uniting 1,300 socially conscious leaders from 196 countries. It enhanced my belief that our generation is equipped with the ability to challenge intolerance of difference and diversity. At a time in which social media is constant and within reach, the necessary tools for advocacy are at our fingertips in which we can not only inspire but amplify our optimism for the future by advocating for a tolerant outlook on the oneness of humanity.  

Romy Wakil is a One Young World Ambassador from Cyprus and works as a Programme Officer and Mental Health Counsellor at KISA.