These days none of us can avoid hearing about the enormous groups of people fleeing their own countries and journeying out into the world seeking sanctuary in safer ports than their own. In Norway, whenever the media talks about immigration, they will start talking about integration, how to make these people more like Norwegians so that they can take an active part in the Norwegian society, make money and more importantly pay taxes. The politicians talk about how to avoid these people becoming burdens to the society, be it a financial burden or a social burden, how they should abandon customs and traditions that goes against, or that doesn’t fit in, in the Norwegian way of life.
Whenever I hear this, I feel provoked, are they talking about real human beings with feelings and emotions, or just pawns in a game of monopoly? It shows very little insight into human nature and psychology.
I want to use myself as an example. I am Norwegian, but I live in India. I am not a refugee, but there are factors (personal and private) that prevents me from living in Norway. When I came to India a couple of years ago I was so excited about this new culture and religion! I started wearing only Indian beautiful colorful clothes, I bought Hindu idols to keep in my house, I went to temple and learned Indian cooking. I just wanted to fit in! But of course, I have blonde hair, white skin, and greenish blue eyes, I stood out, wherever I went, I was noticed and given attention. Most of it was just harmless curiosity, people would smile, children would giggle, strangers would come up and ask me where I was from and if I liked India, some would ask if they could take a photo with me or even invite me to their house to show me off to the rest of their family. The more Indian I made myself, the more attention I got, people would ask me proudly: you like India very much, nah?
Whenever I met new people, new neighbors or friends they would tell me about Indian culture and religion. They would explain to me how to pray, cook, how to drape a sari and how to act as a proper Indian lady. It didn’t matter that I had studied Hindu religion or knew how to cook Indian food, I had to respect their expertise, and be careful about claiming to know anything at all about Indian culture. They loved being the teachers and I respected that of course. I was a foreigner. Often when people talked to me or about me, they would just refer to me as the foreigner, not in a mean way, but with a huge warm smile on their face. They were proud to know a foreigner and teach her the Indian ways.