I was reminded again today of how lucky I am to be Irish and by extension European.
My colleague, who’s from the Caribbean, has to return home before Christmas and will not be able to come back. In short, if another project comes up for her to work on, she can get another visa; but if there’s no employment for her, she can’t. There’s nothing abnormal about this, of course, but there is something unfair I think. She’s been employed by the university on various short-term contracts for about five years now, and has been having to deal with this problem for a long time, but it must be a terrible uncertainty for her. In the past, she’s been very lucky in being able to get new funding but this time, she’s sadly been unsuccessful. So, she’s flying back before Christmas to a life that she doesn’t really want to return to. She loves living here, I know, because of the freedom it affords her, and she’s all too aware that back home she can’t even go out at night because it’s so dangerous. I think the contrast between her two lives is really very stark.
I’m not going to get into the whole issue of immigration here (frankly, I’m off the opinion that people should be able to live where they darn well please and that your birthplace shouldn’t decide on your fate for the rest of your life) but this case just seems so unjust. She’s been living here for a long time now (she did her PhD in England before this), she’s contributed greatly to society in her work, she’s paid her taxes like a honest citizen, and she’s established a life for herself her; yet she still has to go.
I feel really bad for her, as does everyone here I think. And I feel lucky for me. By virtue of where I was born, I can live and work in the most beautiful and interesting countries in the world. This isn’t a privilege I take for granted at all.