Groningen Mayor Koen Schuiling addressed the city’s expats in a heartwarming Christmas message during which he said that internationals are always welcome in the Northern Dutch city.
“The holidays are all about coming together. A moment to cherish your loved ones in the warmth of home. You chose Groningen as your home. Maybe your loved ones are far away, but I want you to know that you are not alone,” Schuiling says in the video which he opens by addressing ‘Groningers from abroad’.
“We are glad that you came to Groningen. Your positivity, your courage and your drive are contagious. They add to the heartbeat of our city. Once a Groninger, always a Groninger,” the Mayor declared. He goes on to wish Groningen’s internationals a happy holiday and reminds them that they “are always welcome” in the city.
The Christmas video featured a group of internationals meeting the Mayor and enjoying a dinner together.
This message is sure to be welcomed by Groningen’s expat community. From facing social media posts upon their arrival saying that internationals are not allowed to rent certain accommodation, to the Dutch general election victory of the anti-Islam populist leader Geert Wilders in November that made international headlines, the Mayor’s heartwarming words offer a message of hope to expats who have chosen to make the bustling student city their home.
‘My first Christmas in Groningen was not the happiest’
Project coordinator Anastasija Zihareva posted on LinkedIn about how she loved creating this video with her team. She also added more context about why the video meant so much to her.
“My first Christmas (and year) in Groningen were not the happiest. A mix of cultural shock and unrealistic expectations towards myself and the world made me almost permanently confused. Like if I would be asked to play football in the total dark. With good and precise actions being expected while I can’t even see what’s going on. Spoiler: things have gone better now. And I know now that most other, especially new, especially more introverted internationals experience a different share of this overall disorientation and solitude,” Zihareva wrote.
She then added that this year, Schuiling decided to address the Groningers from abroad, especially the ones who might feel homesick and strange during the dark days of the Christmas break.
Zihareva went on to thank Brandwagon, the company that produced the video, her colleagues Hans Coenraads, Abele Kamminga, and the city hall staff, Karina Aminova for the decorations, Production Assistant Valentina Lucchi, and the internationals who starred in the video and brought their national festive dishes: Damijan, Grazie, Bernard, Ellen, Beatriz, Guangda, Ola, Emilio, and Sara.