Chargé d’Affaires Adam Shub opening remarks at the Social Innovation for Refugee Inclusion Conference

November 16, 2017

Remarks (as prepared) by Chargé d’Affaires Adam Shub
Social Innovation for Refugee Inclusion Conference
Brussels, Belgium

Good afternoon and thank you for that kind introduction.

I am very happy to join with our excellent partners, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Mission of Canada to the European Union with whom we coordinated on last year’s event and our newest partner for this event, the Migration Policy Institute, to welcome you all to here today.

I was especially pleased to be invited to open this year’s event since I had the good fortune to be present at last year’s memorable inaugural Social Innovation for Refugee Inclusion seminar.

It was one of those special events that stays with you.  I was so impressed with last year’s presenters and the creative work they were doing in the field of integration and inclusion.

Eric Young, who will be speaking on the first panel today, inspired us with his “Boldness vs. Stuckness” agenda and challenged all of us to experiment, innovate, and collaborate on bold new visions to give birth to new movements and ideas.

And that’s what you have done, as your collaborations over the past year have shown.

Some of you may recall a number of the speakers at last year’s events who were refugees themselves working to make a difference.  We were thoroughly entertained and moved by Firas Alshater, a Syrian refugee in Germany who gained attention for his humorous YouTube videos that used comedy as a means to motivate a discussion about fear and xenophobia.

Dawit Friew a Sudanese refugee surprised some of us when he bluntly described his hatred of the label “refugee.” Through his emotional story of hardship and abuse he explained how being a “refugee” took away his confidence and his dreams and labeled him as something different and not welcome. When he was resettled and finally allowed to work again, he said he regained that confidence and began to dream again.

We should all keep Dawit’s story in mind as we focus on economic inclusion and how work brings more than just a paycheck to a refugee.

Likewise, we need to make sure attention does not drift away from this issue as other challenges overshadow it.

In that context, the title of this year’s seminar — “Maintaining Momentum and Creating Lasting Change”  — is both fitting and inspirational.  One panel, one discussion, one conference, may give birth to an idea.  But creating that lasting change requires nurturing that idea, turning it into reality and helping it grow.

I look forward to hearing from today’s participants and panelists how we can work together to build momentum, and make that change happen. Thank you for your ideas, and inspiration, and commitment.

Again, welcome and thank you all for coming.