Between worlds

It was the first day of school. She had recently come to Germany because her father was offered a job. The first day was hard, very hard. Maybe she does not remember any other detail because she was overwhelmed by the huge change of spaces – a Turkish home and a German school. She could not speak German, nor could she understand a word of it. She remembers children playing and hanging out with her, but how they communicated remains blurred But one incident was really sobering. A boy approached her and told her something. She did not understand a word, the boy kept on speaking. Obviously, he was trying to ask or explain something. She felt helpless, maybe embarrassed. This was unlike just playing together, she had to speak the language. She does not remember when she started speaking German, but it must have been soon. There were two things that helped her to learn it more quickly. She could already read and write in Turkish, so while others were learning it, she had time to learn the new language. During that same time, her father was attending a language course so she could ask him for help. The two worlds – family and school – were separated by language – Turkish and German. Therefore, being connected to them meant that she had to be able to speak these languages. At times some practices reminded her of the other world. Since she was a Muslim, she had to be careful about the food; and at home she and her sisters loved watching TV, in German of course.

After a while the German world grew bigger, into many parts of her life. The way of thinking, books – though at home she also had Turkish books – watching TV, they were all her German part, among many other things. Her parents believed that their children had to speak the languages properly, so they had materials in Turkish too. Therefore, her connection to these worlds was through language. It was the main connection, actually. Now that she spoke both of them, she started to belong to both worlds and thus belonging could be maintained through these languages. However, the divides mainly remained the same: the parents on one side and teachers, peers, TV, books on the other side. This also meant the trip from one to the other has never ended.