4th September 2017
This isn’t exactly where I live, but it’s a big part of my life here in Belgium. This is the International Chorale of Brussels, an amateur choir of about 50 singers, which I direct. We have at least 15 nationalities who sing regularly, mostly European but a few Americans as well. Being part of an international community was an unexpected benefit of living close to Brussels, and one which I very much enjoy. Some people seem to think that internationalism means a loss of national character, but I find the opposite. People here are proud of their nationality, and national differences often become emphasised in such an international environment. We acknowledge the differences, even the stereotypes, and learn from them. People are interested to know about other countries’ customs and food, for example, but also differing attitudes to international events or political figures. People are of course happy to sing in their native language, but equally happy to learn how to pronounce someone else’s language (Danish was a challenge for most of us!). The reaction to Brexit of everyone I have spoken to in the choir is one of shock and disbelief. But then I suppose it’s a group of people who have an open, international mindset: no surprise that they find it difficult to comprehend why a country would choose to leave such a powerful group of nations.
My favourite photo of my friends and neighbours, taken at our annual commune BBQ. A small commune (Hamlet) but 7 languages spoken, 6 nationalities, ages 2-92 years! The true spirit of the EU living, supporting, helping each other, living in Peace. Sadness and disbelief followed the UK advisory referendum. I’m so lucky to have their full support during this difficult time #StrongerTogther #InLimbo.
4th September 2017
I took this picture on one of the early trips I made to Germany almost five years ago now. I’ve built up my connections with this country slowly over time, making friends, coming to visit them, exploring gradually step by step. Stuttgart was one of the first places in Germany that made me fall in love with Germany – the beauty of the southern landscapes, a welcoming community that was willing to host me and show me something of their life in the city, a new land to discover and explore.
Must sent us this postcard—a picture of his local football team.
This is a photo of my local football team, SFC Friedrichshain Internazionale, in 2016; in this picture, we’d just won a penalty shoot-out to be promoted to the city’s top amateur league. The club is truly diverse; its 25 squad members are drawn from 14 different nationalities, and its founding charter speaks out against homophobia, racism, sexism and fascism.
Photo Credit: Ben Ferry, Bloody Hell Magazine, 2016. Continue reading →
Paul sent us this postcard—a picture of him and his wife in Wiesbaden, Germany.
25th August 2017
It means something to me as it is one of the first pictures of me and my wife who is German after we moved to Wiesbaden, Germany. It was taken 2 years into our European adventure after living in Amsterdam and then Frankfurt.
The ease in which we were able to move between countries was as easy as it was to move between cities.
Looking back and smiling at this, also makes me sad that my son may lose similar opportunities in his life. Without freedom of movement in Europe it’s possible my wife would not have had the opportunity to freely study and work in the UK and with no real qualifications it’s unlikely I would have had the opportunity to live, travel and work in Europe.