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"See the possibilities, not the problems!"

News: Jun 16, 2016

- Refugees, and people with refugee experience, often have a tremendous energy and desire to contribute to society. That strength is important to take care of.
So says Elizabeth George. In August she will become project manager for the University of Gothenburg’s work with the refugee situation.

Internships, improved student information and validation of skills are some of the University’s efforts regarding assistance to people with refugee experience. In August Elizabeth George becomes project manager for the initiative.

- Many good efforts are made in different parts of the University. My role will be to act as coordinator and also as management support for Pro-Vice-Chancellor Helena Lindholm. I will also work with communication on the issues we want to highlight. An example would be the university’s involvement in the Jamiya project where Syrian academics educate refugees in different camps, another may involve validation of refugee skills. The plan is that I will be project manager until the end of 2017.

Elizabeth George was born in Sweden but her parents are from India.
- I have a twin sister who looks exactly like me; she is part of my soul, the second half of myself. My mother tongue is Malayalam, one of few language names that is a palindrome, that is reads the same backward or forward. My husband is from Spain so our two children are quite used to different cultures.

Since 2008 Elizabeth George is Head of the Integration Centre Gothenburg. But she has also worked as an SFI teacher (Swedish for immigrants) and at the Swedish Migration Agency.
- It is important to normalise the image of the refugee and not just talk about problems. Most people who come here are just like you and me; they want to study or work, get into a social context, make friends and participate in society.

Attitudes towards refugees seem to have hardened. Do you agree?
- Media reporting has certainly shifted, from a very positive view last autumn to recent descriptions of refugees as a problem. But if they become a burden or an asset is really up to us; it is we who must help these people to become part of our community. Therefore, I think it’s wonderful of the University of Gothenburg to offer over 100 internships for refugees. And to support people’s way into our society needn’t be very complicated; above all, it’s a question of seeing the human being, regardless of background.

Photo: Lotta Duse

The University's Refugees website: http://www.gu.se/english/about_the_university/Refugees

Published in GU Journalen 3/2016.

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Originally published on: medarbetarportalen.gu.se

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 11/17/2016
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