We must to a new culture, without losing our own traditions

My name is Taghrid Ismail. I was born in Damascus in 1972, I’m married and am a mother of 5 children. I have taken a pedagogical degree from the University of Damascus. I started working in the year 2000, in my home country. I got married in 1999.

I loved my homeland because I had a home, work, and family close by. They always helped me. But in the year 2011 the war started. Not in Damascus, in another city, but we were worried. In 2012, people began demonstrating against the regime. Then came the bombs. Still, I would not flee. I thought: maybe it  will get better. I had nowhere to flee to, because my whole family lived in the same city as us. There were  not bombs every day. We  waited.

But on December 16, 2012, I had made breakfast for my family. Afterwards, while I was standing and washing up, suddenly an airplane came and threw bombs. Big bombs, very close to me. The glass in the house shattered and my whole apartment shook. We gathered the whole family and ran away. Lots of people, a lot of dust. We ran away from my residence. I did not think we would be gone forever. I thought it might stop after 2 days, so I took nothing with me. Only the clothes I was wearing. There was no transportation, no cars. We had to go. We walked for 3 hours. I do not know how many kilometers. We went to another city. We did not know where to go.

We had some acquaintances we could stay with for two days. Afterwards, we rented a room in a basement. We were there for two months, but my son had asthma, so we had to find another place to live. Two months later we moved again. We were in the new home for seven months. Suddenly there were bombs. Again we had to flee. Again no one cars, only people and dust. We had to run and walk to a new area.

We came to a new city and stayed with acquaintances for two weeks. There were many check-points in the new town. The soldiers wanted my husband. They told my husband that he was against them (the Assad regime). They interrogated him for many hours, but eventually he was released.

There were many different rebel groups. Then it happened again, but this time the other way around. My husband was questioned by the rebel groups, and arrested, accused of sticking with the Assad regime. We only wanted security! We were not with anyone.

Suddenly the soldiers wanted to know where my son’s identity card was. They began questioning him. Then we decided to move from Damascus.

We traveled to Lebanon in December 2013. My husband was looking for work but could not find any. Life in Lebanon was very expensive, so he decided to go to Europe. Me and the kids stayed in Lebanon. After three months he came to Denmark, in February 2014. We had to stay a year in Lebanon. There we had a very hard time. No money. No future for the kids. Life in Lebanon was not so good. We received money from the UN to survive. We lived in an apartment with many families. We only had one room. My kids started getting a lot of headaches. My oldest child worked to get money for us. He was 14-15 years old, and worked in the supermarket. Did not go to school. Every day I cried because it was a very difficult period. I also started getting migraines every day.

Afterwards we came to Denmark, in October 2014. We got family reunification. But we did not relax.

When I came to Denmark, I was very happy. When I came, I really wanted to learn Danish and be integrated here. Because I had to start a life again. But when I came to language school, I could not learn. I had a lot of headaches and a lot of thoughts, but I really wanted to. The rules pressured us. Should I go to internship and work without being able to speak Danish? It went very fast. Many requirements. When you have had difficult experiences, you need to have time to learn. It is hard!

I finished language school after a year and eight months, but my kids are learning fast. I’m going to the Adult Education Center now, in 9th grade. I have an education from my home country, but I have to start all over again. I would like to work here as a teacher or educator, even if the rules are very difficult. I think there are some people who think that all refugees are “bad for Denmark”. Maybe some people think that all refugees will harm Denmark because there are a few who cause trouble in Denmark or the EU. That’s not why we came. We just want to live a comfortable life, learn Danish and be integrated. We just want a job and a good life. But there are also many Danes who have helped me. Volunteers who are ready to help us with everything, both language, culture and practical things. But it is still very hard in Denmark.

It requires an open mind.

I have to make sure that my children and grandchildren get on a “good path”. They need to be integrated. We need to get to know a new culture, but we also want to keep our own traditions.

Sometimes I find that frustrating. Sometimes I need help. I do not understand it. I must be able to speak Danish well. I want a good education, but when is it good enough? When am I ready?

I am a trained teacher in my home country and I would also like to be a teacher here. Not cleaning assistant. Young people learn faster than me. When am I ready? It’s hard to understand the system here. I’m not young, but I always say “I have to, I have to, I MUST learn it”.

But it’s nice that it’s safe here. Now I know my kids are ok and no one is taking my husband. There is security and future. I must love Denmark to continue.



Dublin Core: Language: da Subject: a million stories, denmark, syria, damascus, refugee,