“I’m learning German by writing love poems”
Interviewer Shima Vezvaei met Kinan Harrouk on a rainy Berliner summer afternoon. “We took a long walk just before he went to join the German Sprachcafé with GSBTB at Sharehouse Refugio. We managed to have a German-Arabic-English fusion interview! He told me about his love for football, passion for poetry and his dream of becoming a writer.”
Tell us a bit about yourself; your background and how you came to Berlin.
My name is Kinan Harrouk. I am from Syria and I have been living in Berlin for almost a year now. Back in Syria I was studying Arabic literature, but unfortunately I had to leave school because of the war and eventually I had to leave my country, too. I have been learning and studying German language ever since I came here. I am hoping to get fluent in German soon, go to school and become a mechanical engineer. I have been through a long journey to get here; from Syria I fled to Turkey, then I took a boat to Greece and from there I went to Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary… oh I don’t even remember how many months I was on the road. I just remember when I was on the last bus to Germany and I knew that my journey was going to an end and I would finally get to stay here.
How are you connected to Give Something Back to Berlin?
I saw one of their events on Facebook, I think it was Sprachcafé. I met Lucy there and she explained to me what Give Something Back to Berlin is. They help me with my German at the language café. But more importantly, for me Give Something Back to Berlin is about all the kind and interesting people I meet anytime I go there.
You are also part of Buntkicktgut football club, right? Do you want to tell me about that?
Buntkickgut is working with Give Something Back to Berlin. They organize street football activities for us including training and tournaments. We are not only refugees there, but young people from different social backgrounds and we play football together. I really like playing football as a hobby. It would be really cool if I could be a real football player but I think maybe it is too hard.
I watch all the games in the Euro cup and I always support Germany. I love going to Brandenburger Tor for public viewings. Germany has the best team, I think!
Kinan at the football fan mile, Brandenburger Tor.
How is your life in Berlin?
The only thing I want to do is to study, get better at my German and also in life. Until not long ago I used to stay at this place along with eight other people. We didn’t have that much money and also there was no place for me to study. It’s been one month now since I moved to my new place. I have a desk for myself so I can study and practice and practice. I’m also able to cook for my friends and I now, which is nice. They really like my Syrian Shawarma Kebab. I like Berlin. Yes, I like it so much and I don’t want to go anywhere else.
What’s next for you?
You know I used to study literature before leaving my country. I want to be able to read and write in German.
I really like poetry. Thankfully I can almost read German poetry now. I write poems in Arabic all the time. And you know what? This is how I learn German too; it is very poetic to me. I write romantic poems in German with the new words I learn every day. My dream is to publish a book in German someday.
I started a new life here basically from nothing; a new language, a new culture, a new everything! All that is difficult for me. But I am hopeful for the future, that’s just how life works.
Kinan (left) at a Buntkicktgut event.
I would love to hear one of your poems, if you don’t mind?
Here comes the woman with brown eyes
It’s like my heart is breathing fast,
She has enchanted me with her delicate scent
She must be a part of me.
Is she a work of nature?
No, she must be more.
She is the impulse that runs my heart.
Her blond hair is a treasure box,
No one knows but the ones who have loved them.
And I know
I can be a house for these jewels.
The attractive darkness of her lips,
A pure sacred water,
I want to drink from,
Every single day.
And such voice she had,
A tone I will never forget,
A tone that brings peace,
To all around her,
More beautiful than the sound of a sparrow,
Than the sound of nature.
Shima Vezvaei is an Iranian communication researcher and journalist studying between Saint Petersburg and Berlin.
Thanks to Ahmad Almujawer for helping with the translation.