From refugee to GG in a single lifetime
At just three years of age, Adrienne Clarkson and her family were rescued from wartime strife in Hong Kong and moved to safety in Ottawa, Canada. Growing up, she acquired a college diploma and university degree before leaving to travel in Asia. Upon her return to Canada she launched into a career in broadcast journalism. As a regular fixture on Canadian national television she went from strength to strength, often hosting her own programmes.
In 2005, after more than two decades on the public stage, she was appointed Governor General of Canada, the official representative of Her Majesty the Queen. During her tenure, Clarkson broke new ground in the role by promoting Canada internationally and supporting the men and women of the Armed Forces.
Since leaving office, she has founded an institute to help migrants fit into Canadian society.
“WHEN YOU GET ON A BOAT THAT’S SAVING YOU, YOU DON’T PULL UP THE LADDER WHEN YOU REACH THE DECK.”
Sports star makes it big – and gives back!
Growing up in Kinshasa, capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Dikembe Mutombo didn’t see a great future for himself. He desperately wanted to become a doctor, but he knew the road would be a hard one.
Eventually, through hard work in his studies, he achieved an American scholarship to study medicine at Georgetown University in Washington DC. That’s when his life took an unexpected and dramatic turn.
Soon after graduation he was spotted by talent scouts and given the chance to play professional basketball. His career took off and, over the years, he played for pro teams in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Houston, Texas.
Now retired after a brilliant 18-year career he uses his celebrity and financial security to give back to his native land. He has created a foundation to improve the lives of people in the DRC. As well, he has personally funded half the cost of a 150-bed state-of-the-art hospital in Kinshasa.
“WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU AN OPPORTUNITY, IT’S ONLY RIGHT TO PASS SOME OF IT ON TO OTHERS.”
Migrant turned journalist brings a fresh view to news reporting
Katie Nguyen was just two years old when she and her family were forced to flee the political turmoil in her native Vietnam. She was, in the late 1970s, one of the now famous “Boat People”.
But she was one of the lucky ones. Rescued by the predecessor to the IOM, she was cared for in a Hong Kong refugee centre then moved to Britain where she was housed and educated. Nguyen put that education to good use and began a career as a news reporter.
Today she is a highly respected journalist working within the Thompson Reuters organization reporting from East Africa, Southeast Asia and other global hotspots. But she hasn’t forgotten her childhood experience. In fact, it infuses most of her work and she now concentrates on reporting humanitarian issues such as famine, climate change and natural disasters.
“I TRY TO USE MY INTERNATIONAL BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE TO BRING A GLOBAL VIEW TO MY JOURNALISM.”
A doctor in the South
Sometimes opportunity can be half a world away. Carlos knows exactly how that feels.
After completing a medical degree in his home city of Trujillo, Peru, he practiced as a physician for two years. One day, quite by chance, he met another doctor, a Peruvian who had been practicing for 20 years in Angola.
Carlos had never thought about working abroad, but he was intrigued. When the other doctor offered him a place in his practice, Carlos accepted right away.
It was an unusual move and Carlos admits that there are some difficulties He misses his family and the language barrier was hard to overcome. But, overall, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. He has a wide and varied group of friends, acquaintances and professional colleagues. As a Peruvian doctor he is highly respected in Angolan society. And, most importantly, the financial rewards mean Carlos can to support his family and save for their future.
“WE HAVE A CHILD AND WE MUST THINK ABOUT HIS FUTURE. BY BEING HERE, I CAN ACHIEVE THAT.”
Top lawyer brings her global experience home
When Ebun Jusu left home she never expected her country’s president to call her back.
Jusu left her native Sierra Leone to study law in the United States. She stayed on and gained a wealth of experience in banking and law and a reputation as a top barrister and solicitor. So well-respected was she that President Ernest Bai Koroma contacted her directly and asked to return to Sierra Leone as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Today, when she’s able to take a little time out from her ministerial duties, Jusu serves on a variety of associations and foundations including the Sierra Leone Bar Association and the Freetown Street Kids Foundation, an organization she personally founded.
“MY PRIMARY GOAL IS TO ACQUIRE GLOBAL EXPERIENCE AND PUT IT TO GOOD USE IN MY OWN COUNTRY.”
Leading economist champions the cause of global migration
Educated in Cape Town, London and Oxford, Ian Goldin can well be described as a student of the world. And as a leading global economist who has worked in the UK, France, the US and South Africa, he is a citizen of the world as well.
In London, Goldin was Principal Economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He then moved to Paris to become Director of Trade, Environment and Sustainable Development for the OECD. He returned to his native South Africa for a five-year spell as CEO and MD of that country’s development bank and a close advisor to then President Nelson Mandela. Goldin followed that by moving to New York to become a vice-president of the World Bank. Today he is a senior professor at Oxford University.
Not surprisingly, Goldin is a huge advocate for global migration. His championship of the free movement of people includes the publication of his book “Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and will Define Our Future”.
“The statistical and general information used throughout the site, together with its acknowledged sources, has been taken, often ad verbatim and in very generous supply from Professor Ian Goldin’s reference book – “Exceptional People – How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future”. Used gratefully by kind permission”.
“IN MOST COUNTRIES, PEOPLE OVERESTIMATE THE COSTS AND UNDERESTIMATE THE BENEFITS OF INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION.”
Globetrotting German goes behind the camera, and around the world
Eager to pursue a career in film, German-born Vera found herself drawn to New York City. After gaining admission to a top university, she now enjoys the academic rigour of a first-class school. And when she’s not studying, she enjoys the company of a diverse social network of friends from all parts of America and the world.
She admits, though, that the move was not without its challenges. University fees are high and she had to take out a loan and work two part-time jobs to fund her tuition. But the education she is receiving will make it worthwhile. And by living and studying in an English environment, she is building language skills that future employers will find attractive.
In the near future, Vera is considering pursuing a PhD. Whether she will do it in the US, the UK or back in Germany is an open question. Because Vera, like so many talented young people, is a true citizen of the world.
“SETTLING IN ONE PLACE SEEMS A BIT OUT OF DATE. I DON’T LIVE LIKE THAT.”
Community counts, says African migrant finding success in Northern Europe
Rotimi Adebari arrived in Dublin with an economics degree from his home country, Nigeria. But as an asylum seeker he wasn’t allowed to work. So he quickly set himself to other activities and soon added a Master’s Degree from Dublin City University to his qualifications.
Along the way he developed a strong interest in public service and eventually founded a non-profit organization supporting the rights and needs of the unemployed.
After five years in the country, Adebari was granted Irish citizenship.
Today he is a city councillor, an elected member of the Port Laoise town council representing the concerns of his community.
“ENGAGE IN THE COMMUNITY AND PEOPLE WILL GET TO KNOW YOU. THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED TO ME.”
Film maker brings international perspective to cinema, radio and TV
Gurinder Chadha was just a child when her family moved from Kenya to the UK. But growing up in London, she soon learned that her real love was the world of broadcast media.
Not long into adulthood, she started working and producing projects for BBC Radio and Television as well as the British Film Institute and the television network Channel Four. From there, she moved on to set up her own production company.
But it is for one film that Chadha remains famous. The blockbuster “Bend it Like Beckham” rocketed Keira Knightley to fame while grossing over $75-million worldwide. The film also exposed audiences to the challenges of young people growing up while balancing a western culture with a traditional home environment.
In 2006 Chadha was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to the film industry.
“FROM AN EARLY AGE, I FORMULATED A KIND OF BI-CULTURAL IDENTITY. BUT SOME PEOPLE JUST DIDN’T SEE THAT.”
Award winning filmmaker brings Turkish roots to German cinema
As a German of Turkish descent, Fatih Akin brings acclaim to both his homeland and his adopted country.
Born in Hamburg, Akin studied film at the Academy of Fine Arts. After graduation he worked in the industry before setting up his own production company. He also found the time to act as a visiting professor at Hamburg University and sit as a juror on prestigious international film awards in Cannes and Berlin.
His own films have won plenty of awards. Akin’s first major work “Sensin – Du Bist Es!” won the Audience Award at the Hamburg International Short Film Festival. More recently, his full-length feature “Edge of Heaven” took home prizes for best director, best screenplay and a LUX prize from the European Parliament.
In his life and work, Akin continues to blend his Turkish heritage and German nationality to help both cultures come closer together.
“SOMETIMES THERE IS A CULTURAL GAP. BUT YOU CAN CHANGE THINGS AND PUT SOMETHING ELSE THERE INSTEAD.”
From Europe to the Americas and (someday) back again
Dreaming of a career in advertising, Spanish born Pablo moved to Buenos Aries to study. Drawn to the city by its reputation for excellence, he worked hard and was awarded a Master’s Degree.
On graduation, Pablo decided to stay in Argentina. He gained important real-world experience by interning at a number of firms before being hired by a major multinational organisation that also sponsored his work visa application. He loves the role. Next to his fantasy job (perhaps a surf instructor or some sort of open-air career) it’s a perfect role.
When he’s not working, Pablo travels to other parts of South America – places that might be prohibitively expensive if he were coming from Spain. Closer to home, as part of a multinational community, he appreciates the chance to get to know people from all parts of Latin America.
Like many migrants, Pablo misses home and family and plans to return some day. But when he does, he’ll be bringing plenty of skills and experience with him.
“THERE IS OPPORTUNITY HERE TO LEARN REAL SKILLS, SKILLS THAT I CAN USE HERE, IN SPAIN OR MAYBE SOMEWHERE ELSE.”