Interview report

The Moral Compass

With freedom of press endangered in many parts of Europe and the work of independent journalists becoming harder and harder we wanted to know first hand what it is like to work as a journalist with an interest in human rights and female empowerment in today’s Poland. Five of our young journalists met Iwona Reichard, Deputy Editor and Lead Translator of the New Eastern Europe in Gdańsk and talked with her about the media landscape in Poland and journalistic values/ethics.

#callVienna: Election time in Austria – Why I voted for Hofer or why Van der Bellen is the lesser evil

What exactly is going on in Austria? What are young people thinking on the candidates and Austria’s future? We decided to activate our European network and #CallVienna to ask two young voters to explain their choices. 

Not an ordinary grandma

Talking to average and ordinary people is boring? Andreyan from Bulgaria tells about the metamorphosis of his attitude after meeting a 70 years old women from a polish village.

Minority stories X: The challenges of discrimination

Liva (Latvia), Sanni (Finland) and Zlatina (Bulgaria) met Nasreddin Boulahya, a 24 year old moroccon-belgian man, at his house in Anderlecht to talk about the challenges of discrimination and the life of an immigrant, from a young mans point of view: We were immediatley  treated with the generous moroccan hospitality, as we admired the beautiful, very moroccan influenced house of his family. Nasreddin was only ten years old as he arrived in Brussels with his mother and siblings in search of a better future. His childhood wasn’t very easy; not knowing any french made it hard for him to find new friends and get good grades in school. The two turning points in his life, he describes was when he decided to learn French which opened a lot of opportunities for his future and helped him int...[Read More]

Minority stories IX: A life changing moment

Today we had an interview with a very special woman Quyen Truong Thi. She is 39 and she is from Vietnam. Now she lives in Brussels because she thinks that this city is the best for everything. She says that people in Brussels are very nice and helpful. She told us that in 1981 her father came to Brussels with notorious Vietnamesse boat people (poor people, who want to have a better life and they are travelling with boat to other country). After 5 years, when Quyen was 15, he bring his family to Brussels. She had to start her life from the beginning, she was talking totaly different language, she had different traditions, culture and religion. Her words touched us very much, esspecialy when she told us that she was crying all day. For her was very hard to start a totaly new life. But withou...[Read More]

Minority stories VIII: A fairytale that became a reality

Today, we – Tony (Bulgaria), Francesca (Italy) and Aleksandra (Poland) – interviewed Katarzyna Sawicesa – a Polish woman who came to Brussels when she was 20 and is still living there. She took a chance in 1990s and has come to Belgium as a tourist for three months. Then, she decided to stay in Brussels and was working illegally looking forward to a better tomorrow. The beginnings of her stay in the capital of Belgium were inherently connected with a fear of being misunderstood and rejected. Fortunately, she met people who helped her in the process of adaptation. Katarzyna claims that due to her European roots, the differences weren’t so remarkable. Now, she has a family in Brussels and speaks French and Dutch fluently so she recognize Belgium as her own country. However,...[Read More]

Minority stories VII: “Africa is where my heart belongs”

Britta (Estonia), Enja (Norway) and Krista (Finland) interviewed a Rwandan woman, Marie-Pierre, 44, who moved to Belgium to study for an university degree because she was unable to attend a Rwandan university due to her late father’s high position in the past. She intended to return to Rwanda after finishing her degree, but was unable to due to the growing instability in the country which culminated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. After this, her whole family successfully applied for asylum. Marie-Pierre has two children and is married to a Cameroonian man. In her household, she tries to incorporate traditions from Cameroon, Rwanda, and Belgium. The family often eats African food, and the family visits Africa once a year. Marie-Pierre considers it important that although her children a...[Read More]

Minority stories VI: “Niciun plan, niciun viitor!”

No plans, no future! “Am plecat din oraşul absurdului şi am ajuns ȋn oraşul suprarealismului.” I left the town of absurd and I ended up in the city of surrealism. Simone (Germany), Viktoria (Switzerland) and Cristina (Romania) have had a chat with a very talkative Romanian woman. She left the Romanian town Slatina (where Eugéne Ionesco was born) for Brussels ( the home of René Magritte) in 1991. Until 1989, Romania was a communist country, but even after the revolution, society has been changing too slowly, so Carmen and her family decided to flee to Brussels. Here they finally had the opportunity to develop a really open minded way of thinking and they could form their personal opinions. “Educaţia comunistă pe care am primit-o ne-a insuflat ideea că rromii ne sunt inferiori, dar am realiz...[Read More]

Minority stories V: Chinese minorities in Brussels – interviewing Chan Chi How

Britta (Estonia), Sanni (Finland) and Yolanda (Spain) went to Anderlecht for their interview: Our assignment to study chinese minorities in Brussels, led us to the house of Chan Chi How, situated in Anderlecht. Mr. How is a 42 year old IT specialist, who was born in Brussels and belongs to the second generation of Chinese immigrants. His grandfather arrived to Brussels before the Second World War, followed by his parent 15 years later. Together they opened a restaurant business, hoping to improve their financial situation. The hard work paid off and their lifequality improved alot, but they still missed the chinese culture which had negative effects on their intergration to the Belgian society. Chan Chi was born 1968 and has spent all of his life in Brussels, like every other Belgian. He s...[Read More]

Minority stories IV: A Polish woman in the city of tolerance

Aleksandra (Poland), Gabriele (Italy) and Ilona (Latvia) went to the European Comission to interview Aleksandra Hedb from Silesia (a Polish mining region). She was born near the border with Czech Republic so she has been dealing with other cultures from the early beginnings of her life. She was studying sociology at the University of Breslau and  came to Brussels in 2003. Although the beginnings were difficult, she stayed in the capital of Belgium and took a chance to change her life. She didn’t have a well-prepared plan, but she had a sense of luck and was determined and now she is working in the European Community and has a lot of prospects for the future. She says that now she can empathize with the representatives of minorities and help them more effective, because she knows the feelin...[Read More]

Minoritiy stories III: The Italian experience

The Italian experience Think about having Belgium, Slovenia, Romania, Italy and Rwanda in the same room: that is what happen in the case of Bo (Belgium), Cristina (Romania) and Mateja (Slovenia): Two mixed stories and two different points of view built the whole »old and new migration« for us. Loredana is a nice and warm Italian lady, about 60 years old, who came here in the 1970s in order to teach the children of Italian miners (the first generations who left Italy for Belgium) italian, obviously. The impressive things about her were her ideas about integration and her opinion about the european origin. »Integration shouldn’t force you to give up your traditions and native tongue. It does not matter how much time you spend in a country, you should always remember where you come from...[Read More]

Minority stories II: The history and future of a Belgo-Congolese

A summary of the  interview with Augistin Nkenda by Enja (Norway), Victoria (Switzerland) and Zlatina (Bulgaria): The meeting with Nkenda was a meeting with a passionate man who has managed to keep his values and traditions, but at the same time integrate in the Belgian society. We met him in his own food store “General and exotic food store”, where he welcomed us with a friendly and open-minded attitude. In the introduction of the interview he told us about Congo and his former life there. Then he moved on to the subject of which he is really engaged in, African youth groups – he is working on a doctorate concerning the topic. During his work with his doctorate he has achieved more knowledge about the challenges related to minorities and the integration process. His focus point is t...[Read More]

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