Jihan learns the language and participates in activities that make her feel more and more at home in the Netherlands.

Jihan (43) came to the Netherlands with her three children a year ago and started her integration process under the new law in July 2022. She follows the Z-route, which means that she must take 800 hours of language lessons and 800 hours of participation activities within three years.

Jihan: “Because of Corona and the lockdown, we had to wait two years before we could join my husband in the Netherlands. He arrived here in 2019. Now we are together again and all is well. We live in Rheden, the children go to school, we have sweet caring neighbours who bring us donuts on New Year’s Eve and enjoy eating my Syrian pastries at birthday parties. I am learning Dutch and I enjoy doing participation activities at NewBees. As a result, I feel more and more at home here.”


“I received my residence permit and immediately afterwards I took a learnability test at the municipality. Then I came to NewBees and met Mahmoud and his colleagues. They explained to me what is expected of me, what is possible and what my rights are. During the intake we got to know each other and had a nice conversation by using a card game with questions about my work experience, my hobbies, my impression of the Netherlands and my plans and ambitions for my future here.”


“In Syria, I never worked outside the home. I took care of the children and the household. Here in the Netherlands I would like to be active outside the home and participate in society. That is why I am very happy with my activity as a volunteer at the community hall in Rheden. Mahmoud arranged for me this match. When I met the director for the first time, I immediately felt welcome. I go there once a week. I make coffee, tidy up, help with activities and engage in conversation with visitors. Sometimes I bring my kids. I like it very much. It is a great opportunity for me to practice the Dutch language and to get to know people.”

My priority is to learn Dutch

“I would like to work there more often, but first I would like to take more language lessons. That is my priority now. Language is the magic key that unlocks the doors to the future. It’s the gateway to work, to a place in society, to everything. No key no access. I take language lessons at NLtraining for nine hours a week and I study at home for three more hours. That’s quite tough, but it’s going well.”

The film education program: Dutch language and traditions

“I have participated at least twenty times in the NewBees film education program. A new theme is featured each week. I learn about the Dutch culture and society, about traditions, norms and values, about the holidays and the food. After the films, the NewBees facilitators provide interaction and discussions. They ask questions such as, what stands out? Which aspects of Dutch society do we recognise? What do we think? It’s nice to see that everyone experiences it differently and has a different opinion. And what is very important: every time I learn many new words!”

Exploring Arnhem

“I went on a neighborhood safari with NewBees twice. We visited, among other things, a church, the Rozet library, the town hall and the train station. What I thought was very special was the concert in the Muzispark. That was amazing! The neighborhood safaris help me feel at home in the city. I learn which buildings or organizations are important to me, where the schools are and what I can do at the municipality. I live here and I want to get to know my city and region well.”

No plans yet, but many opportunities

“Once I have mastered the language, I hope to get to know more people and get the chance to give something back to society. I don’t have any specific plans yet, but I see a lot of opportunities for me and my family. I myself never had the opportunity to study. I want to give that chance to my children.”

Is your municipality busy with the implementation of the participation component in the Civic Integration Act? Or looking for participation tools for newcomers and foreign speakers in general? NewBees can provide a solution with our building block method for participation.

Photo: Mo Alzoabi

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