• Ellen Barnes (photos: Eyas Hafez)

Newbees at Work: Bushra, the Caretaker

“Working here has increased my self-confidence. I’ve become someone better.”

In her home country of Syria, Bushra was studying to become a children’s teacher. But when given the chance to help a very different age group in her new hometown of Amersfoort, she jumped at the opportunity.

At Het Seminarie, an assisted living center for elderly people in the heart of Amersfoort, Bushra stays busy: whether she’s serving coffee and tea to the tenants, helping them with their activities or simply sitting down for a chat, there’s always something to do.

While she initially pursued volunteer work to grow her network and improve her Dutch, she’s grown to enjoy the work itself: “The atmosphere here is so nice,” she said. “I like to help the people here.”

Time to play

Compared to her studies to become a children’s teacher, working at Het Seminarie is completely new and different — but at the same time, some things extend across all age groups. One example? The games Bushra plays with the tenants.

Playing with elderly people may sound odd, but that’s exactly what Bushra’s does — each Tuesday, she joins them for a new game or sporting activity, such as ping pong or aerobics. “That’s the best part,” she said. “We are playing something new with the people each time.”

A newfound confidence

Bushra’s favorite thing about Het Seminarie? It gave her the chance to work on herself, her communication and the way she interacts with Dutch people. And after three months, she even decided she may like working with elderly people more than children.

“Working here has increased my self-confidence,” she said. “I’ve become someone better.”

Her advice to other newcomers looking to get involved in their community? “We need to give effort. We don’t have to look to our past, but we should focus here, on the present, and live as the people here are living — we need to integrate with them.”

One thing that’s surprised her? “There is hope for these old people,” she said. “They’re not just sitting and giving up. They’re still living their lives.”

Bushra herself possesses this same spirit of hope. “It’s not always easy, but I always try. It’s something new, and that’s very nice.”

Interested in helping newcomers like Bushra in their integration journey in the Netherlands? Check out our contributions page to learn more about how you can impact the lives of local newcomers.

#NewBees #Amersfoort #HetSeminarie

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