Never forget who you are – and never forget where you are

People from England, Hungary, India, Ireland, Jamaica, the Philippines, Nigeria and Scotland who ended up in Vienna talk about exactly what it’s like.

As part of this year’s Wir sind Wien festival, Write Now has organised eight readings by migrants to Vienna, describing their experiences and cultural journeys since arriving in the city. The readings will be held next Friday, June 10th at the Ankerbrotfabrik, Absberggasse 27, 1100 Wien.

How does it feel to migrate? How does it change your attitude to your new home, and the place you left? How do you retain an identity while becoming part of somewhere totally new? Do you need to, or should you just mix in? How do things like the job you do, the colour of your skin or your religion, get in the way?

Migration has changed hugely compared to movement from Africa, the Caribbean, the Subcontinent and Turkey into the big European economies in the 1950s and ‘60s. In many countries, such as the UK, two or three generations down the line, with people from all over the world having grown up in the same classrooms and workplaces, many of the questions have been answered, and the population at large feels that generally, the country is the stronger for having absorbed new people from around the world.

In many countries, though, it’s far less simple. As people continue to set out across the Mediterranean, how do those already in Europe and its new arrivals need to adapt to one another’s needs avoid to losing an entire generation of people to radicalism at both extremes?

As the literary partner of the Wir sind Wien event in the city’s 10th District, Favoriten, Write Now has brought together a group of eight ordinary people, from a range of different jobs and origins, to talk about their experiences of starting life elsewhere in the world and eventually landing up in Vienna, and where they really view as home.

The writers are a great mix: they started out in England, Hungary, India, Ireland, Jamaica, the Philippines, Nigeria and Scotland. They will read their respective pieces to the crowd at Magda’s Kantine, a café at the Ankerbrotfabrik arts centre site; there will be no stage, and the atmosphere will be informal; people will read their work, then open things up to the audience for questions. The readings will happen in two groups of four people, one at 4.00 pm and one at 6.30 pm. Other events (music, an artists’ initiative, etc.) will be held in the course of the afternoon.

The talks will also be backdropped by an exhibition of art by a Syrian refugee who contacted Write Now with his paintings. Highly professional, hauntingly memorable stuff. The talks will be humorous and insightful, there’s a performance by the superar orchestra, art happenings on the site and more – so come along on 10 June for a great afternoon!