“I came to Germany at the very last day of 1996. We had taken a flight from Vietnam to Hungary and then continued the journey on foot. The journey was intense. We walked through the snow at night, for six hours until we crossed the border. I was hungry and cold. But our journey wasn’t over. Through paths, bushes and tunnels we finally got to a house, were we had been awaited.
I was ten years old and surprised. Nobody had really explained to me where we would be going to. My mum had just said that we were going on a journey, but not how special and exhausting that journey would be. But it was planned that we would go to join my father, who had already gone to Germany five years earlier.
We only reached Germany at the second attempt. The first time we were arrested in Hungary and ended up in prison. My mother was crying a lot, but eventually we made it.
All these experiences made me strong and are part of my story.
After a few weeks, I started school. The first day of school was intense. I was nervous and could not speak German. But the other children in this first school were great. They welcomed me with open arms.
A key moment to me was a conversation with a friend, a few weeks after I arrived. I wanted to tell her that I liked a boy from our class, but I didn’t know how to express myself. Then and there I realised I had to learn this language as quickly as possible. I want to be understood. From that moment on, the German language became a part of me.
To Germany I brought hope and the open-mindedness to look at things and accept them as they are. I am open towards new situations. At the same time I always had to fight a little bit harder, therefore I have the spirit to work hard for things that are dear to me. For example I work for projects with children.
To me, Vietnam is still home. Therefore next year I’m planning to spend a few months there. However, I don’t consider it as a return, it’s rather another step on my journey through life.”
This is a story by Christine Strotmann.