Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Young reporters dive into refugee reporting
(Salzburg, Austria) Editor’s Note: This week, I met with a bright, enthusiastic group of Salzburg University students. We discussed the principles of peace journalism, and particularly how PJ might apply to reporting about the many refugees here in Austria. As part of the PJ workshop, students visited with several Syrian families about their experiences. For all, it was their first experience interviewing refugees. The students were tasked with producing a lead—an opening paragraph that reflected the angle/theme of their story. Three of these are below. I will post my story tomorrow.

Reporter’s Notebook
By Olivia Skoglund

Yesterday I discovered the refugees are not here to stay. They actually don’t want to be here forever. If they could go anywhere in the world, it would be Syria, the place where many of them grew up, where their friends and families still reside, their home. When the president is gone, they want to go back. Living in Salzburg forever was never the plan. The parents want to find jobs while they are here, and they only “want what’s best for their children”. One mother even said she denied donations because they did not need it as much as other people. The truth is they are just trying to survive and live normal lives like any other family in Salzburg. They all just want to go home when it is all over, and I think we non refugees tend to forget that.

Dreaming about the future
By Barbara Santos

Samar from Syria, currently living in Salzburg with a Turkish family, abandoned her country seven months ago to seek for a safer life and more easily persuade her dreams. 

More than 40,000 refugees went to Austria since 2015 to find a better life, where they can have the chance of freedom. But they now fear the choice of being in a place they thought was the best option for them because the Austria minister wants to send immigrants back.

Salzburg is one of the cities where you can see and meet refugees. In a church that gives asylum to 50 refugees you can feel their happiness but when you talk with them about home (country), you can see sadness and saudade in their eyes. And if this war ever ends they want to go back to their lives and country.

“I want to learn the language and provide education to my children”, Jamila said.

Although they fear to move from Salzburg to another country, that doesn’t stop them of dreaming about their future. Dreams that start with being a hairstylist to a makeup artist to being able to work in their second home country. 

A woman left Syria because for 12 years she couldn’t get pregnant but when she did, she knew the best decision was to protect her 1 year child and give to her a safer place to grow and live. “We have to live day by day and then we’ll see”, she said. 

From Syria to Salzburg: Learning Through the Language of Mozart
By Cynthia Springer

In Salzburg, student reporters meet Syrians.

Fifty. The amount of people living within this unfamiliar housing unit along the Salzach River of Salzburg. Eight. The number of families residing in this specific accommodation that have fled from their home countries of the Middle East for a safer life in Austria. Five. The number of children that Anarazn* raises with her husband in hopes her kids will live a successful, comfortable life.
For Anarazn, being a housewife has always been her purpose in life. It was her job in Syria, and it’s her current job now. For her husband, he is unable to work due his current status as a migrant and Austrian law. The journey from Syria to Salzburg, of course, strenuous. All in all, it took her family one whole month to travel between the two countries, let alone the 21 days from Turkey to Salzburg.  The family travelled by boat and by walking, all through Greece, Macedonia, Turkey, Serbia and Hungary until they had finally reached Austria. 

But why Austria? Why not the country of Turkey, which constantly accepts thousands of refugees and migrants seeking sanctuary? For one, Anarazn had stated it’s because “the situation in Austria is more calmer” than anywhere else they had chosen to stay. Despite the struggles of not being in their home country anymore, they seem to have adapted well into the classical city of Salzburg. They still make the foods that they used to eat and enjoy back in Syria, they all continue to laugh and smile at each other. Remarkably enough, these families that I encountered all had one other thing in common: the learning of the German. These families were not just learning German, but they had the will to learn this incredibly difficult language. In fact, when they spoke, it would sometimes be a mix of both Arabic and German. I’ll label it as Garabic. Their current goal here: to learn the language and be able to work in this country. Anarazn’s children, all of whom are 13, 12, 9, 8, and 3 years old, are currently attending a school here in Salzburg where they learn German, English, and Arabic. When asked her age, the twelve-year-old daughter giggled and said, “Ich bin zwolf jahre alt!”

Although these families are not able to work legally, they most certainly work hard in establishing themselves within the Austrian culture and system. They do not want to take the government’s money and live off of it; but rather make a life of their own and surpass the language barrier. 

As welcoming the Austrian people have made these families feel, Anarazn had stated that Syria will always be and feel like her true home. Yet, she and her family continue to make the most out of their experience here in Salzburg by attending these language courses and immersing themselves as much as they can in a country that is currently growing stronger in their right-wing views. 

Six. The amount of years I, myself, have been taking German as a foreign language and yet, this hospitable Syrian family probably knows more Deutsch than me within their nine months of living in Austria.
*Name Changed

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