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Inspired by the success of Canada’s integration programmes with refugees, RSM Distinguished Alumna Alba Tiley (MSc Strategic Management 2010) decided to support the Samen Hier initiative, which welcomes refugees to the Netherlands and helps them integrate. The organisation that initiated Samen Hier, Justice and Peace, is currently recruiting welcoming groups for a pilot study in four Dutch cities.

What is it about your effort that makes a positive change?

Upon arriving in a new country, refugees often do not know anyone and have little engagement with locals. Samen Hier aims to make this transition into a new culture easier and more enjoyable. “In Canada, the community-based adoption model has been around since the 1970s. It spreads the involvement and responsibility in society for taking care of refugees. Over the decades, a lot of data has been collected on the efficacy and success of this approach when compared to the traditional governmental resettling model. Welcoming groups do this voluntarily, so the initiative not only helps refugees integrate but is one way locals can give back and make a difference in someone’s life.”

Being conscious that one has been fortunate in life comes with a responsibility to give back.

Why do you do it?

“I don’t want to have a job that doesn’t have a positive impact,” she says. “For me to be motivated I need to know I am having positive impact in some way. Being conscious that one has been fortunate in life comes with a responsibility to give back.” In addition to supporting Samen Hier, Alba works on developing sustainability in the pharmaceutical industry in her role as Global Sustainable Antibiotics Director at Centrient Pharmaceuticals in Rotterdam.

How can others get involved in doing something with you – or something like what you’re doing?

“We are looking for groups of five people who are interested in supporting a newcomer family for a year to help them adapt to life in the Netherlands, with Rotterdam as one of the first participating cities. The welcome group can be made up of five friends, family members or colleagues who share the responsibility for a year. From giving advice on study or job to introducing cultural norms and celebrating King’s Day together, it covers various aspects of life in the Netherlands. Welcome groups should have some Dutch speakers because language is an important part of integration, but this is a great opportunity for expats to improve too!”

You can learn more about the initiative at their website or by emailing

Alba Tiley received RSM’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2014