THE FIRST MEMOIR OF A YOUNG GIRL FROM WESTBURY ON HER FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE: STORYTELLING

WAQAR

17 AND A HALF

STUDENT

PAKISTAN

I AM FROM PAKISTAN, RESIDING IN GERMANY FOR ONE AND A HALF YEARS. I CAN SAY THAT MY CHILDHOOD INVOLVED MOVING FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER. IT WAS ALWAYS HOT AND THE WATER WAS NEVER ENOUGH. MY SOURCE OF FOOD WAS HUNTING BIRDS AND RABBITS WHICH I KILLED WITH A WEAPON THAT I MADE OF WOOD AND STONE. MY OTHER OPTION WAS EATING PLANTS AND MUSHROOMS. I HAD A DAD, MOM AND TWO BROTHERS AGED 10 AND 8. I WAS FORCED TO LEAVE PAKISTAN AT THE AGE OF 15 BECAUSE OF TERRORISM. I HAD LOST MY FAMILY IN A BOMBING AND THERE WAS NOTHING LEFT FOR ME IN PAKISTAN. I HAD JEWELLERY GIVEN TO ME BY MY MOM WHO RECEIVED THE JEWELLERY FROM MY DAD ON THEIR WEDDING DAY.

ON JULY 2015, I TOOK THE JEWELLERY AND MONEY THAT I HAD SAVED UP AND LEFT TO EUROPE, IN SEARCH OF A BETTER LIFE. I STARTED MY JOURNEY FROM PAKISTAN TO IRAN. I GOT CAUGHT AND I WAS IMPRISONED FOR 22 DAYS. I DIDN’T OWN A PASSPORT, SO I WAS TAKEN BACK TO PAKISTAN. THAT DIDN’T STOP ME. I ONCE AGAIN, MADE MY WAY FROM PAKISTAN TO IRAN, THIS TIME SUCCESSFULLY. LUCKILY FOR ME,THERE WAS NO MILITARY AT THE BORDER. I ENTERED TURKEY WITHOUT ANY MONEY.

I WAS FREE.

I MET FRIENDS. FOR ONE WEEK, WE TRAVELED TO ISTANBUL AND WE WERE FACED WITH TWO CHOICES-ENTER EUROPE BY FOOT OR BY WATER. WE DECIDED TO WALK. AFTER TRAVELING FOR ONE MONTH THROUGH A FOREST, WE MET TROUBLE BUT IT WAS INTERESTING AND ADVENTUROUS. WE GOT CAUGHT IN BULGARIA AND WE WERE LEFT IN SLOFIA. THERE, WE RESTED DUE TO INJURIES. WE FINALLY GATHERED ENOUGH STRENGTH TO CONTINUE. I REMEMBER THAT IT WAS -20 DEGREES, COLDEST. MY PHONE BATTERY DIED. WE HAD USED IT FOR NAVIGATION PURPOSES. WE GOT LOST, IN A SNOW DESERT, BUT WE GREW COURAGE FROM ONE ANOTHER. THE SUN WAS ANGLED AT 45 DEGREES , THE DAY WAS GONE BY 70 PERCENT.. WHEN THE SUN FINALLY SET, WE CLIMBED  AS HIGH AS WE COULD AND WE SAW A VILLAGE. WE ENTERED AND SOMEONE ALERTED THE POLICE. THE SERBIAN POLICE TOOK US TO AUSTRIA WITH OUR FINGER PRINTS. THEN TO GERMANY. I WOKE UP IN A HOSPITAL. I WAS 54 KILOGRAMS, VERY WEAK, MY EYES WERE LIKE THAT OF A SKELETON. I REMAINED IN HOSPITAL FOR ONE WEEK. I HAVE NEVER SEEN MY FRIENDS EVER SINCE. I JOINED SCHOOL. MY FIRST CLASSES WERE IN GERMAN. AFTER FOUR MONTHS, I JOINED NORMAL CLASSES. I MET A TEACHER, ROSY, AT THE REFUGEE CAMP. I WAS ONE OF HER BEST STUDENTS. SHE TOOK ME TO STAY WITH HER. SHE’S BEEN WORKING TO GET ME TO THE STANDARD OF OTHER GERMAN STUDENTS. IF I GET GOOD MARKS, I WILL APPLY TO BECOME A BANKER.

2017-08-08 10.38.12

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THE FIRST MEMOIR OF A YOUNG GIRL FROM WESTBURY ON HER FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE: STORYTELLING

KATHARINA

16

STUDENT IN GRADE 11

RUSSIA

I AM ORIGINALLY FROM RUSSIA. MY PARENTS CAME HERE BECAUSE LIFE IN RUSSIA WAS VERY DIFFICULT. MY PARENTS MARRIED YOUNG, MY DAD WAS 19 AND MY MOM WAS 18. MY MOM WAS A SOCIAL WORKER AND MY DAD WORKED AT A WAREHOUSE, WHERE HE TRANSPORTED GOODS FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER. WHEN I WAS NINE MONTHS OLD, MY GRANDPARENTS FOLLOWED US TO GERMANY. I SPENT 99 PERCENT OF MY CHILDHOOD WITH MY FAMILY.THIS LEAD TO ME NOT SPEAKING GERMAN AT ALL. WE USE TO GO ON FAMILY VACATIONS AT THE SEASIDE. THERE WAS MANY SAND HOLES AND I LOVED CLIMBING IN AND OUT OF IT. I WAS HOME SCHOOLED BY MY PARENTS TILL I WAS FOUR YEARS OLD. I THEN ENTERED KINDERGARTEN BUT IT WAS BAD. I GOT A LUNG INFECTION AND I DIDN’T GO BACK TO KINDERGARTEN. I TURNED FIVE AND I ENTERED PREPARATION GRADE. IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR ME TO MAKE FRIENDS. I KNEW ONE RUSSIAN GIRL, WE WERE BORN ON THE SAME DAY AT THE SAME HOSPITAL. WE WERE INSEPERABLE TILL THE AGE OF 12 BUT WE WERE DIFFERENT FROM EACHOTHER BECAUSE WE HAD NO SIMILARITIES.

IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR ME TO BE LIKED. I WAS BULLIED UNTIL I WAS IN 9TH GRADE. I REPORTED IT, THEY PROMIDED, THE TEACHERS AND THE PRINCIPAL, TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT BUT THEY DIDN’T. I CHANGED SCHOOLS SO MANY TIMES THAT PEOPLE DIDN’T REALLY KNOW ME. I CAME TO THE INTERCOOL TOUR TO BE HONEST WITH MYSELF. THIS TRIP IS A TURNING POINT FOR ME.

I LOVE READING. WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I READ UP TO SIX HOURS A DAY.

LIFE ISN’T DIFFICULT BUT MY THOUGHTS ARE. I WANT TO REMOVE TOXIC PEOPLE FROM MY LIFE. I NEED TO MAKE BIG CHANGERS. I NEED TO OPEN UP AND BE WHO I AM. I WANT TO BE MYSELF.KATHARINA BY NTM

THE FIRST MEMOIR OF A YOUNG GIRL FROM WESTBURY ON HER FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE: STORYTELLING

KABELO

25

PHOTOGRAPHER WITH A JOURNALISM BACKGROUD

SOUTH AFRICA

I WAS BORN IN A SMALL TOWN IN LIMPOPO, WHICH IS A TYPICAL REPRESENTATION OF THE APARTHEID SYSTEM WHERE PEOPLE WERE SEGREGATED. I MOVED TO SOPHIATOWN WHERE THE LIFESTYLE WAS DIFFERENT IN COMPARISON TO THE TOWN THAT I WAS FROM BECAUSE OF IDENTITY.

I CONSTANTLY WANTED TO EXPRESS MYSELF BUT I WAS RESTRICTED BY THE ISSUE OF IDENTITY. I LIVED TWO LIVES THROUGH TWO DIFFERENT RACES WITH CONTRAST TRADITIONS. AT SCHOOL I RELATED AND ASSOCIATED WITH COLORED PEOPLE BUT BACK HOME I WAS BLACK. I HAD TO EAT PAP EVEN THOUGH I WANTED BIRYANI. I COULDN’T DO WHAT I WANTED TO DO BECAUSE I WAS CAGED BY THE THEN AND NOW SYSTEM. I FOUND BALANCE THROUGH ART-LITERATURE, PAINTING AND PHOTOGRAPHY. I LOVED IT THEN AND I LOVE IT NOW.  ART HAS NO PRISON. I AM FREE TO EXPRESS MYSELF. I AM NO LONGER IDENTIFIED BY MY PRISON BUT BY WHAT I EXPRESS THROUGH MY ART.

KABELO BY NTM

 

THE FIRST MEMOIR OF A YOUNG GIRL FROM WESTBURY ON HER FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE: STORYTELLING

A VERY GOOD MORNING FROM MY WORLD TO YOURS. I TRUST AND BELIEVE THAT LIFE HAS BEEN TREATING YOU RATHER WELL IN MY ABSENCE. I, HOWEVER AM BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. NOTHING HECTIC, JUST SAD THAT MY TRAVELS CAME TO AN END, RATHER QUICKLY.

I RECENTLY RETURNED FROM A CULTURAL EXCHANGE PROGRAM THAT TOOK PLACE IN GERMANY. THE ORGANIZATION, JUGENDWERK DER AWO, BROUGHT YOUTH TOGETHER FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, REGNING FROM DIFFERENT WALKS OF LIFE, TO PLAY GAMES WITH CHILDREN AT SUMMER CAMPS THROUGHOUT GERMANY FOR THE PERIOD OF TWO WEEKS. OVER THE TWO WEEK PERIOD I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY OF LISTENING TO STORIES OF YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN AND IT GOT ME THINKING, MAYBE I SHOULD COLLECT THEIR STORIES AND SHARE IT WITH ALL OF YOU.

WHY?

TO LET YOU KNOW THAT LIFE AINT THAT BAD. WE’VE ALL HAD OUR HEARTS BROKEN AND MENDED, WE’VE ENDURED GOOD AND BAD SITUTIONS AND WE HAVE BEEN DISAPPOINTED BY THOSE CLOSE TO US BUT ALL OF THAT HAS MADE US WHO WE ARE, RIGHT NOW, IN THIS MOMENT. THIS IS THE YOUNGEST WE WILL EVER BE AND NOW, IN THE PRESENT, YOU’RE ALIVE AND THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS.

THE PRAYER OF MY HEART IS THAT THESE STORIES WILL TAKE YOU INTO A WORLD WHERE YOU BECOME THE MAN OR WOMAN WHO IS SHARING THEIR STORY. WALK IN THEIR SHOES, SEE WHAT THEY SEE, GET A SCENT OF THEIR LIFE AND FEEL THE AURA THAT SURROUNDS THEM.

TO BE CONTINUED…

FROM MY WORLD TO YOURS, IT’S GOODBYE FOR NOW.

THE FIRST MEMOIR OF A YOUNG GIRL FROM WESTBURY ON HER FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE

I JUST GOT TO FRANKFURT AND I AM SEATED AT A BUS STATION FACING THE MAIN ROAD, WITH TRAFFIC ON THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. EVERY NOW AND THEN A PLANE PASSES BY WITH YOUNG AND OLD GAZING AT IT AS IF THEY’VE SEEN A SHOOTING STAR. MY EYES NOW FALL ON A YOUNG, MARRIED COUPLE. THEY ARE WEARING WEDDING BENDS. AT FACE VALUE I WOULD PLACE THEM BETWEEN THE AGES OF 18-21. THEY DON’T SEEM VERY PLEASED AT THE FACT THAT I DECIDED TO DROP MYSELF OFF RIGHT NEXT TO THEM. THE GUY IMMEDIATELY TOOK HIS STUFF AND MADE A GAP BETWEEN US AS IF TO NOTIFY ME THAT I CANNOT MOVE BEYOND THE BAGGAGE LINES. WHY DOES THE COLOR OF OUR SKIN SEPARATE US?