AMAYA - ONE YEAR ON

I recently caught up with Amaya after meeting her for the first time back in October 2016. We took a walk around her local University campus and chatted about the importance of belonging, a future full of hope and possibilities and her renewed enthusiasm for and commitment to the European project.

20180128-_L4A5968.jpg
I think the initial impact [of Brexit] has gone down but the sentiments, the hurt feelings are a lot more predominant. My emotions are still as high as they were before, but I would say that now my spirit of Europeanism has grown a lot more. Before, I was shocked and angered, and had a sort of ‘deer caught in the headlights’ feeling, now I just feel sadness and a need to search for something that I can anchor myself to - and that’s the European project.
20180128-_L4A5959.jpg
Brexit has made Europe realise what we don’t want to be. There is this sense of awakening and it has pushed us Europeans into something new, we have transformed Brexit into something positive for us, and that has created a sense of dynamism, enthusiasm and strength. I think that will be an impetus to job creation, to new ideas, and to a vision of commonality between all the countries within the European Union that transcends borders. It is a good thing for us and I want to be part of that positivity.

I feel that I would be more welcomed and accepted with my ideas in Europe than I would here. A lot of energy would be needed on my part if I stayed here, but I don’t know to which end. I don’t see a positive outcome for Brexit, so I would rather direct that energy into something that I know does have a good outcome, a positive realisation, and that is the European entity. It’s on the boom, the younger generations are getting involved in Europe and I want to be participant in that movement rather than fighting something that the British people have voted for.
20180128-_L4A5977.jpg
[On ‘settled status’ for EU nationals in the UK] It’s very vague, there is no permanency in that word. I think it’s something that will buy the Government time and to get people on board, but there is no long term vision of what happens later on. I think it‘s a good terminology they’ve used because it gives them leeway to change things later.

The ‘settled status’ idea is to keep the 3million EU nationals in the UK semi-content for now, and later on the Government might crack down on visas and on entry, they might even introduce quotas at a later date. I don’t feel reassured at all by this Government, right now my trust lies with the European Institutions.
20180128-_L4A5974.jpg
[On the upsurge of hate incidents after the referendum] I think it’s definitely still there and I have experienced it myself.

On the day that marked the 60 years of the Treaty of Rome I was travelling on a bus and took a call in a foreign language. This person came inside and, upon hearing my conversation, said something along the lines of ‘It’s great that we are finally out’.

I confronted him and asked him to tell me what exactly he didn’t like about the European Union. He said it was their policies, so I asked him which policies, to name one he didn’t agree with. Then he said he didn’t want to be controlled, so I asked him in which way he felt controlled. I wanted to talk to him about it, to have an actual conversation but he just started shouting and getting very aggressive.

It was really uncomfortable and I felt quite vulnerable. Nobody came in my defence, I was totally on my own. That makes them complicit in that sort of behaviour, it makes them part of the problem. If that’s what British society is I don’t want anything to do with it.