The Samen Hier project has kicked off! Several welcome groups have been formed and matched. From these matches, we received numerous positive stories. A beautiful example is the story of Mahdi’s first meeting with his welcome group.
“Are you nervous?” We asked Mahdi (pronounced as Meghdi) just before his first meeting. “No, I’m not really nervous. I’m not scared or worried, just a little jittery.” He said while pointing at his stomach. Mahdi was matched with a group from The Hague called the ‘Zuiderstrand’ group. During their first meeting, this turned out to be a match made in heaven.
“We were a bit worried whether he would like us!”
Welcome group members André, Joke, Donne, Joke and Coen told us after the meeting was over. Fortunately, these worries proved to be completely unnecessary! After only ten minutes of talking, the Iranian Mahdi and the welcome group had already discovered three similarities.
Both Mahdi and the welcome group members had climbed the Kilimanjaro (but neither had managed to reach the top, they later admitted). Mahdi and André both have links with the province of Twente, as André was born there and Mahdi started his Dutch life in a local asylum center in Almelo. Moreover, everyone present expressed their love for hiking and playing sports, especially tennis. “Tennis only for rich people? That’s not true! We will arrange something!”
The welcome group participates in Samen Hier “because we believe it’s crucial for status holders to feel welcome in their new living environment.” Joke tells us later. “Being in a group of five is very nice, since it allows us to divide the responsibility a bit. At the same time, it allows us to share a diverse selection of interests with Mahdi. Mahdi likes singing, so Joke has made plans to bring him along to her choir someday. And tomorrow, he will join André to help at the farm of an acquaintance.”
Language was an important subject during the meeting. Mahdi shared his worries about learning Dutch and expressed his fear of possibly not being able to grasp it. “It’s why I practice every day!” Despite his insecurity, he speaks Dutch constantly, “Begrijpen jullie wat ik zeg?” (Do you understand what I’m saying?) Coen confirms this: “Absolutely! And if I don’t understand what you’re saying, I will just ask you.” “You’re doing great! The most important thing is to not be afraid to speak Dutch and to just ask if you don’t understand anything.” André adds.
“Being in a group of five is very nice, since it allows us to divide the responsibility a bit. At the same time, it allows us to share a diverse selection of interests with Mahdi. Mahdi likes singing, so Joke has made plans to bring him along to her choir someday. And tomorrow, he will join André to help at the farm of an acquaintance.”
A match made in Heaven, so it appears! Even though the six of them have very diverse backgrounds and professions, they share many similar interests: nature, sports, travelling and positivity. The last of which was convincingly expressed by Mahdi at the end of the meeting: “I always laugh, I like to make jokes. It’s better to be happy!”
Curious how Mahdi and the Zuiderstrand group are doing? Recently, a local newspaper from The Hague wrote an article about them! You can read it here for free!