Sunday, May 26, 2013

Afro-Europeans talk about their experiences in Germany and The Netherlands

Ian Ogutu from Germany and Furaha Kensmil from The Netherlands have something to say about life in Europe. In an interview with The German based African Magazine African Courier student Ian Ogutu talks about the challenges facing African and black students in Germany. And in a personal story Furaha writes about why she feels like a foreigner in The Netherlands. Furaha's story (picture at the top right corner) was published in a special edition on Afro-Europeans.

Ian Innocent Ogutu, "Learn to ask for help!"
Ian Innocent Ogutu is the chairman of the Association of African Students at the University of Heidelberg. When asked about the activities of his association, he replies, "Other than our colourful get-togethers and VASUH meetings, we mainly work with the City of Heidelberg’s Administration (e.g Immigrations Office & Migrants Council courtesy of Allimadi) as well as the University of Heidelberg's International Office to make life on campus easier for those that may have difficulties settling down in an environment that is far from home. We attach importance to addressing all immigration issues that may have a legal effect on one's stay here.

Also, networking with other members of the community has been an enriching experience. Getting to exchange views and linking up with the members of the ‘Afro-European Blog’ has really opened up my eyes to just how diverse we are as a black community. There is so much more that unites us than there is that divides us. I can only hope that VASUH contributes to the splendid diversity of the afro-community in Europe as a whole. "  Read the interview here.

The Netherlands: We Are Here to Stay by Furaha Kensmil
"I find it difficult to call myself Dutch," she writes. "The Dutch do not wait with open doors for the arrival of Black people. My parents were both born and raised in Suriname. Over the years my dad, an entrepreneur, has lived, worked and done business in several countries, including South Africa, the US, Suriname and Morocco. My mum is a social worker, and she runs her own business in the healthcare industry.

I do not believe in full assimilation into Dutch society simply because I cannot imagine a life without my African-Surinamese culture. I sometimes wonder how Black people who appear to have blended into Dutch society experience life. I tend to associate more with Black people. The Dutch African Diaspora, in comparison with countries such as Russia and Poland, is quite large, so I do not feel isolated. I know where to find my people, so to speak. "  Read her full story here.



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