“You don’t feel like you’re a stranger here”

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    “You don’t feel like you’re a stranger here”

    If you’ve been to one of our community team-ups, Refugee Cooking Group, Open Art Shelter, Sprachcafe or almost any other GSBTB event in the last six months, you’ve probably come across the sunny face that belongs to Nebras Othman. A beloved GSBTB community member who’s always down for a chat and a laugh, Nebras has morphed from a GSBTB participant into a volunteer, most recently as our graphic designer.

    Photo by Jen Bagelman

    Tell us a bit about yourself

    I’m Nebras and I am 23 years old. Where to start? I’m from Syria. I left Syria on the 10th of October 2012. In Syria, I was very active in the revolution from the beginning, making live videos and news. I was imprisoned twice and the situation became very bad. After that, I went to Lebanon for one week. Then I spent three or four weeks in Egypt and finally went to Libya for about two years. After Libya, I took a boat to Italy and then to Germany, arriving in 2014.

    I studied communication networking for two years in university in Syria. I had to leave my studies when I left. When I lived in Libya, I opened a store for graphic design, printing and illustration. Then I worked for an internet provider company. But the situation was unstable in Libya and fighting broke out.  The currency was failing. I was thinking about going to Turkey with my family but the airport and the streets closed when it came time to go so I ended up in Europe.

    My parents are currently in Turkey. They want to go back to Syria but I have told them to wait. They are older and find it hard to be in Turkey without work but I know the situation in Syria.

    How are you connected to GSBTB?

    By chance! I saw the website and read about the project. I was volunteering in Syria for a number of projects for the revolution and wanted to continue this in Germany, so I went to one of the meet ups in October 2015 and met everyone.

    Now I am involved in almost all the projects – in the cooking group every Saturday, the Open Art Shelter, the new language café and all the meet-ups.

    I find it’s very helpful. The projects give you a link and you can make connections in an easy way. Not everyone who comes to the events is Syrian. Many people come to make friends or just to be nice. When nice people are together, nice things come out of it.

    How do you find life in Berlin?

    I’ve been in Berlin since May. I like Berlin. It is an international community and you can find what you want. You don’t feel like you are a stranger here. There are a lot of projects and you can get involved in them if you are open. You can also have a lot of friends in a short amount of time. It’s special, Berlin. Berlin is not like the rest of Germany. You can do what you like and what you want.

    What’s next for you?

    I want to complete my language studies. After that, maybe I can complete the studies I began in Syria. Through that I want to find work. I want to work in something that connects me to people or in technology because that’s my area of interest. I also applied for a second visa for Turkey to go see my family.

    Thank you for sharing, Nebras!

    Michelle Beck is a Canadian writer and editor at Vertical Media Publishing.