The refugee crisis, the Greek financial crisis, and the media’s rhetoric of panic around these events encourage the perception that Greece is on the edge of total breakdown. Much less coverage is paid to people who are working to provide services to refugees and other integration efforts on the ground. Understanding the challenges of the refugee crisis is important for forming integration policies that promote economic growth and job creation for Greeks and refugees. How can the challenges of the refugee crisis become opportunities for engagement, action, and growth?
This summer, Sophia and I are working as research fellow and intern at HIGGS: Higher Incubator Giving Growth and Sustainability. Working at this think tank, we can collaborate with many other innovative social entrepreneurs and participate in trainings and seminars. We are already inspired by the positive energy and enthusiasm of the people sharing this sunlit office with us (and by the great falafel place down the street). We also found the subject for our first interview; we met the business and product developer of GivMed, who explained to us how his organization facilitates medicine donations to social pharmacies around Athens.
We will spend the next several weeks interviewing refugees and service providers in Athens to understand different perspectives on the refugee crisis and to propose integration policies that can bridge the differences between refugee populations and Greeks. We hope to share what we learn through updating this blog, writing op-eds for media outlets, and publishing an iBook with our findings.