International Migrants Day is commemorated on 18 December, on the anniversary of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants and Members of their Families. The principal purpose of this day is to raise awareness on the challenges and difficulties of international migration. As a migrant, I believe that it is an opportunity to celebrate the positive contribution made by immigrants to the development and growth of their host countries.

I initially migrated from Venezuela in 2017 to study for an LL.M in Aberdeen. Although I originally planned to return and stay in my country after completing my studies, I met my husband in Aberdeen and came back to settle in Scotland in 2019.

I am now, according to the UNHCR'S statistics, one of the six million Venezuelans to have fled the country. This mass exodus is a consequence of political instability, economic crisis, insecurity, and lack of food, medicine, and essential services.

As a migrant, you face challenges every day: cultural differences, language barriers, adapting to new traditions, different weather, food, and more critical issues such as xenophobia and discrimination, all while being away from your loved ones and not being able to support them in their difficulties. As a daughter of migrants, I was always aware of these struggles as I saw my parents experiencing many of them.

In my case, my migration process has meant, among other things: having to study law again after qualifying nine years ago in my home country, speaking English instead of Spanish every day, learning how to drive on the left side of the road; and going through difficult moments, such as my dad's death, away from my mum and sister. But it has also allowed me to live with my family in a place where I feel safe and have access to better healthcare, security, and political stability. I have continued to develop my career , and more importantly, I have settled in a beautiful country with extraordinary people that I can now call my friends. I have also contributed to my community by bringing more diversity to my workplace and have shared my previous work knowledge and experience. I continuously celebrate my culture with my husband and stepdaughter and have created new traditions with them, combining elements from our backgrounds. During my time in Aberdeen, I have had the privilege to interact with incredible people from Scotland and immigrants from different places who now call this place their home (according to National Records of Scotland (NRS), 7% of the population in Scotland are non-British nationals).

Eager to connect with other people going through similar situations, I joined Venezolanas Globales (VG) as Operations Coordinator. VG is a volunteer initiative run for and by Venezuelan migrant women that aims to connect them, promote their projects, help them settle, and create networks while providing them with tools for their professional development. In VG, we have ambassadors in sixteen cities around the globe, where they create a community amongst Venezuelan women. Despite the challenges of 2020, we held more than 79 online and in-person events, promoted the work and talent of 130 women, and had almost 1,000 participants in our activities. My work with VG has allowed me to stay connected with my roots while creating a safe space to share with my fellow Venezuelans to help each other in the many challenges we face as migrants.

My invitation on this International Migrants Day is for everyone to think about the immigrants they have met, reflect on their journey and the reasons that may have motivated their decisions to move somewhere else, and focus on their positive contribution to society.