New Beginnings

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Beginnings are sometimes tranquil and sometimes turbulent, but they always provide something new. Small towns, muddy fields, and the depths of our emotions tied our experiences together. We each found different meanings in different places.





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A Tønder love affair

Elena Fiebig

Time Citizenship City of residence Thursday 08:30-08:45

Danish & Danish



Angolan/Portugese & German

Kassel (GER)


Thai & German

Frankfurt am Main (GER)


German & American

Bonn (GER)


German/Turkish & Irish

Berlin (GER)


Ukrainian & German

Fürth (GER)


German & German

Hannover (GER)


German & Scottish

Hamburg (GER)


American & Australian

Berlin (GER)


German/Polish & Syrian

Berlin (GER)


Polish & Ukrainian

Schwetzingen (GER)


Peruvian & Venezuelan

Berlin (GER)


Croatian & English

Berlin (GER)


Vietnamese & Vietnamese

Berlin (GER)


Russian & German



Polish/German & Israeli/French

Berlin (GER)


Hungarian & Hungarian

Chemnitz (GER)


13:00-13:15 (anonym) 13:15-13:30

German & Lesothan

Right on the german side of the border in a rainstorm in November, all of southern Denmark goes shopping. You can have hot dogs or currywurst. You can also have a wedding. It is perhaps not the most romantic border - but there are important eight kilometers between the German bureaucracy and a Danish wedding paradise for binational couples. The Scene Tønder is a small, quiet old city at the very bottom of Denmark with around 7.500 inhabitants. But the two registrars of the commune are marrying around twenty-five binational couples a week. Mostly they travel all the way up from Germany. The Danish weddings of up to seven per month

Berlin (GER)

do not play an important role in the city. To an outsiders eye, Tønder itself is not very special. It is an average Danish city close to the seaside and more important - very close to the German border. Under the Hashtags #Toenderlove or #Weddingintoender you can find many happy couples who had a pilgrimage over the last years to Tønder. In the 1960’s the first couples came across the border to get married there. Here, weddings used to be a bit like a drive-in. But now weddings are not as easy to come by. The Starting Point The authorities in Germany often require documents and stamps that are difficult to

obtain, such as the original birth certificates for which you should mostly travel to your country of birth. They do not care if there is a civil war going on or that you are facing dangerous situations because of your choice of partner. As one Polish-German/ Syrian couple said, “We came here because we were ignored in 8

Germany by the registry office after we have indicated the nationality, and also on repeated demands, we did not get any answers.“ There are also some difficulties regarding divorces. “The German authorities have caused us so much trouble that we have come to Denmark. My husband is Scottish and we

Registrar of Tønder

“We felt very accepted in Tønder.“ wanted to get married in Glasgow. The reason was that the German authorities did not want to recognize the Scottish divorce decree (30 years ago) of my partner. In addition, there was the Brexit and the incredibly impertinent behavior of the registry office in Hamburg,“ a 75 year old bride explains. It is not uncommon that couples arriving in Tønder tried to marry in Germany before. The Decision In 2019, the Danish government passed a new law trying to restrict so called “bill marriages“ which changed everything. They call a bill marriage an arrangement without a romantic relationship where the partners or a third party may derive a legal advantage. At that time, at least around one out of ten of the binational

marriages in Denmark were bill marriages. Nowadays, the couples have to contact the Ministry of Family Affairs in advance to check the papers and get the “Certificate of Marriageability“ in Denmark. “My wife and I were working in an office facing the backyard of a cheap hotel in Tønder in the 1990’s. It happened quite often that we saw couples who looked like this, the marriage was not about love. They were walking with a big distance between each other and were nervously chain-smoking cigarettes.“ Holger Kristensen, one of the six volunteering witnesses from the senior-clubs explains. Before bill marriage law you could travel to any commune in Denmark and in less than a week be married. You only had to stay at least four nights in the commune. 9

“The registry office in Germany wanted to have papers, which in our opinion has nothing to do with a wedding.“

“In the past it was more exciting because the couples didn’t know if their papers would be accepted. When they arrive in Tønder now, everything is already fixed - except they do not bring the same ID card they showed to the Ministry of Family Affairs“ says Holger. The Change Now, the couples stay no longer than two nights, which is a problem for all the small businesses in the commune of Tønder resulting from the new law. Most of them arrive and travel back the day they get married. So the money does not stay in the area anymore. “We now only look for dates when all the papers are in order and they have the certificate of marriageability. They all want to get married as soon as possible and at the moment they 10

all want to get married before January 1st because then you can still deduct something from your taxes.“ Susanne Kirsten, one of the two registrars of Tønder, explains. One Danish florist, Pernille, has been in business for eight years in Tønder and has seen the effects firsthand. She recalls that the 1015 binational couples per week who ordered a bouquet of flowers for their weddings is nowadays reduced to 3-5. Khaled Hasan, a Kurdish hairdresser, is relatively new in the city and is facing Covidrelated hardships. When he opened the store, he anticipated to quickly grow his business. Today, he styles just one bride per month. Only the old bridal fashion store has no problems with lack of international customers at this moment.


“I always thought marriage is a bit dated.“

The Future “Tønder would like to have more marriage tourism and has put a lot of money into it - but now the money goes to the state and therefore the municipality cannot hire more people.“ says the registrar. The processing fee of around 215€ (1.650 DKK) goes directly into the state coffers and the communes do not earn any longer from that business - it is more a free service they offer for binational couples. Back in the days they could pay six registrars in Tønder and offered binational weddings every day a week. Despite the bill marriage law, the demand in Denmark for weddings of cross-nationality,


multi-religious or queer couples who are not marrying only for citizenship is still the same. All of them face complicated bureaucratically problems in their country of residence - mostly in Germany. After the bill marriage law, Tønder could only marry a third of the couples they used to marry every year. Currently, couples have to wait three months to get a free appointment for a wedding in Tønder. The waiting list is getting longer and longer and the binational couples living in Germany are becoming more desperate.


„Dear couple, Today is a very special day for you, because you have come to Tønder to marry. I welcome you to this historic building of Tønder town hall. A Danish civil marriage ceremony is quite a short ceremony without any songs or music, but I can assure you that the marriage is still valid. A marriage is built on two people, who love and support each other, and Important qualities in a marriage are: Friendship and understanding as well as affection, respect and forgiveness, but above all: Love. It is important to nourish your love and relationship like a fire that must never go out. In a good marriage you share happiness as well as sorrow. Once you are two walking hand in hand together through life, the joys are twice as nice and the sorrows only half as hard to bear. I wish for both of you that this marriage may bring happiness and joy to you and to all whom you love. Now we shall begin the most important part of the ceremony, the „Yes, I do“. As you now have stated, that you wish to marry each other, I ask you (Part2_Navn) if you will take (Part1_Navn) to be your wedded spouse? In the same way I ask you: (Part1_Navn) if you will take (Part2_Navn) to be your wedded spouse? Now that you have confirmed your willingness to marry each other, I pronounce you spouses. CONGRATULATIONS!“ (max. 15 min)


There is more than one way

Aku Ratsula



In between breezes from the wind, among the rustle of leaves below, I hear their sigh. The topic is not easy to talk about and neither is it easy to listen to. Julie, a 23-year-old student living in Aarhus, is non-binary. “It felt like a calm in me that I haven’t felt,” is how they describe discovering the term just over a year ago. They were finally able to describe something that they have felt their entire life. For them however, this discovery was not all good. Julie has been forced to assimilate their non-binary identity into a binary system, something which they cannot escape. “I wish I could go back to not being aware of this about me,” they tell me. For Julie and many other non-binary people, acceptance is only the first step to inclusion. One major hurdle is in representation, where non-binary people are often stereotyped by incomplete, single stories. The queer community rather includes a wide variety of experiences, personalities, and ideas.

The wind picks up, becoming too much for the loose leaves to handle. For Julie, coming to terms with their identity has affected their social life. Anxiety crept in around the same time that they came out as non-binary to their friends. Since then, Julie has mostly kept to their own social circle because, “sometimes you just don’t want to be that burden.” When Julie is around a new group of people, they describe how, “I end up gaslighting myself a lot because I’m like ‘never mind, like, they can just assume whatever’ and then I feel bad the entire time.” Not all non-binary people struggle with social anxiety, however. Henrike, a 21-year-old student in Malmö, does not feel as affected by anxiety. Rather, they worry about how they present themselves, saying, “I definitely tailor how openly queer I am to the people I am around… I don’t like hanging out with some people who are still very unaccepting of it.” Anxiety among nonbinary people is not universal. Both Julie and Henrike have their own unique experiences. 19

Henrike 20


As the wind settles, there’s a peaceful silence in the air, but silence can hurt too. During a time that is often celebrated, Patrixia, a 30-yearold dancer living in Copenhagen, found themselves in pain. Puberty was their first sign that they did not fit into society’s norms. “I started developing and that hurt so much... I just hated that body so much and I didn’t know why,” they recall as we sit in their makeshift dance studio bedroom. When Patrixia discovered the term non-binary, they were 26. For them, discovering this label helped them come to terms with prior trauma, saying how comforting it was “to know that it wasn’t really something that was wrong with my body but more with the gender associations to it.” Julie had similar experiences. One time they were forced to wear a dress by their aunt, who Julie recalls saying, “if you don’t show up in a dress, you’re not getting a present from me.” “If she thinks that do other people think that?” Julie remembers thinking. When they did wear the dress, it was hard. They “hated every single second of it,” saying, “it felt like I was naked.” For both Patrixia and Julie, the issue was never in themselves but in the restrictive gender-binary. The wind stays calm as I look across the field. Leaves are scattered everywhere, each in their unique way. Patrixia would like to see more representation of normal, everyday non-binary people. “In fashion magazines and stuff, it’s the perfect non-binary if you’re really lucky. They always like have a really good day, a lot of nice makeup, and beautiful photos… They don’t have to be so fucking perfect all the time,” they tell me. To Patrixia, this obsession to be perfect feels out of touch with reality. “A lot of people get a big amount of peace from getting like, the proper labels and stuff and then there are other people who don’t really care.”


Patrixia 23

Gabi, a 26-year-old living in Copenhagen, refers to representation similarly telling me that, “it’s not the only story that is out there.” Non-binary people feel burdened by limited stereotypes, having to prove their identity at whatever cost: “if you say you’re non-binary, then you’re nonbinary… it’s proof enough that I exist and that I say that I’m non-binary.” Non-binary people are not all the same. By creating a “perfect” image of what non-binary looks like, the community is put up against strict standards to convince people of their queerness. Clothing is perhaps one of the biggest of these standards. As Gabi puts it, “just because I wear this dress today doesn’t mean that I’m any less non-binary.” Patrixia enjoys being fluid with how they present themselves. This, however, has no effect on their identity, as they say, “it’s not like I feel like people have to ask me every fucking day where I am (with gender).” For Gabi, knowing where someone is at with their journey should not change how they are perceived. “Not being able to pinpoint exactly when started or when it’s going to end is just as valid,” they mention.


Being non-binary is not the same for everyone, and representation should reflect this. The wide variety of experiences and people are left out when representation is limited to a single story. I look up and, distracted by the conversation, I failed to notice that the sun had been shining this whole time. My own sibling came out as non-binary three years ago. If it had not been for this experience, I would be far behind what is necessary to improve inclusion for the queer community. To me, that is the problem. Change comes quickest when it affects people personally. Combating this requires a collective effort. I see the binary system as incomplete. When a binary is forced onto a non-binary spectrum, people will exist who cannot be placed into the boxes that society has to offer. To create a more inclusive society, we must challenge society’s binaries altogether. If breaking down the binary system requires discomfort, then so be it.

Gabi 25

Do we see things similarly, you and I?

Aymen Mohamed

My encounter with Denmark has evoked many new and unfamiliar feelings. Living here as a Sudanese, with a different value system, has made me reconsider my self image. In turn, this aroused thoughts of self-doubt concerning my perception of concepts such as love, nature, and otherness. One day, with my new friends on a playground, one of them with a bright smile, mentioned her happiness for being among us. At that moment, my perception of my identity was shaken. What she expressed to me felt like a new and strange encounter. It made me question the norms of emotional expression I had Sudan. I was not used to emotional frankness. This later formed a vivid image about the social environment where I exist. I thought to myself with amazement “I feel unconditionally loved.”


Imagination can be fascinating at times, especially when it results from questions about identity. I feel like I cannot recognize, both physically and psychologically, is enough of a reason to induce anxiety and self-doubt when confronting the environment as an outsider. Consequently, I feel lost while trying to create an picture of reality. My connection to nature has always been marginal, with no positive human impact on it. This is a fantasy of nature engrained in me mixed with the different shape of nature in Denmark. It felt so strange to see apples randomly fallen on the streets. In Sudan, it’s the most unavailable and expensive fruit. I thought to myself, a Danish person probably sees this view every day, which makes it normal to them. Experiencing a different sense of nature felt like a new birth.



Definition of otherness 1: the quality or state of being other or different 2: something that is other or different (Merriam Webster)



Being in the same space with others can be a call for change. Otherness challenges my narcissistic beliefs concerning my understanding of reality. It is a reminder of uniqueness and limitation, the other can be me if I allow myself to be them. The more I connect with others, the less I feel alien to myself. The more I connect with myself, the less I feel alien to others. Otherness can be the reason for construction, as it can be the reason for destruction. Otherness can result in wars or peace. My view on Europeans as strangers was very generalized before I lived in Denmark. Until I had to meet those who broke that view. I found many commonalities, and I found differences too. I didn’t judge, but imagined. Therefore I ask, what am I to the world? What is the world to me?



The windy, concrete island of Århus

Stáňa Benešová

“We moved here as one of the first tenants. Back then it looked like a Sahara. There was sand everywhere and there was no road.” - Eva Taps, senior resident 38

Cold and strong wind in the face. The smell of saltwater in the air. Such is the atmosphere of Århus’ very own island, also known as Aarhus Ø. Dominated by modern high-rise buildings but, most importantly, defined by the people living there. It is the students, the young families, and the elderly who have made Ø their home. Thus, proving that new developing neighbourhoods are not just for the rich but for anybody. One of the people to tell such a story is Eva Taps, a senior resident of the Ø, who has lived around Århus her whole life. She has lived at the Ø for 11 years now. With her husband, they moved into the first house

on the Ø and then a couple of years later swapped for a bigger flat in a newer building. Now she is enjoying the fifth-floor view North of the city. The Blue City According to the locals, greenery does seem to be a rare sight. “I wish it was more green,” says Clémence Le Rouzic, originally from France, who came to work in Copenhagen and then moved to Århus to further her education. In that regard Eva agrees with her, emphasizing that so far there are only couple of green patches around the peninsula. Though, there is the Risskov forest right around the corner. “I love to run around the island and then continue to the forest. It is really close from here,” explains Clémence whilst walking around the coastal line. According to the project assistant of the city’s technology and environmental 39

department, Emil Jønsson, there will be a bigger focus on this particular problem in the future: “Right now, pier 2 is supposed to be turned into a park.” Pier 2 is part of the peninsula closest to the mainland on the south and it is where the Dome stands. “Domen” is a café and a cultural space for various events. However, Emil emphasizes that the vision for the Ø is not to be green. “It is supposed to be the blue city,” he explains. The connection to the water is quite clear with all the canals running through the peninsula. Living for All Generations One of the biggest concerns when creating new housing space is affordability. Is anybody with an average income even capable of buying or renting a flat here? Turns out, a very diverse group of people inhabit the Ø. And 25% of flats are sectioned out to be affordable housing through the support of public funds.

There are also student dorms and a special building called “Generationernes hus,” where, as the name suggests, different generations live – from the elderly to young families. But, back at the dorms, in a small one-bedroom flat lives a young Hungarian couple. Ádám Berki and Lilla Szabó moved in here just this summer and are very happy with the catch. They applied through the student housing website months in advance and were lucky enough to get the place. They say that with the income from the SU, The Danish students’ Grants and Loans Scheme, and part-time jobs, they can afford to stay there and have a comfortable living. “Our rent is 5000 DKK so if we each pay half, we have still quite a lot to spend on shopping and other expenses.” Ádám states that he really likes Århus and Denmark in general: “Everything is perfect here, except for the weather.”

Ádám and Lilla regularly chat on the stairs of their building.


“Everything is perfect here, except for the weather.” - Ádám Berki, resident



Future Adjustments Though, there are still some things to improve on the Ø. The couple also agrees that there could be more greenery, but a more pressing problem according to them is parking. They do not own a car, however, when their friends come to visit, they have a hard time finding a place to put their car. Ádám complains about the private parking garages and very limited public parking space which is overpriced. Emil partly disagrees and says that the city is preparing more parking spaces and so far the number is enough. At the same time, he admits the prices are not cheap: “Parking is expensive in the inner city, that’s how it is.”

Historical background of the Ø With the first buildings being constructed in 2010, this part of the city is still in development and is awaiting its finish in the 30’s of this millennium. The first idea of turning the Ø into a residential area surfaced in the 80’s. Former city architect suggested the option. He was inspired by the Aker Brygge neighbourhood in Oslo which was turned from an industrial to a shopping and residential area. The same fate was decided for this part of Århus which, back then, was a commercial port with shipping containers and heavy machinery. So far the work is about halfway through with a big supermarket, more houses, and a park coming in the future.



The Lighthouse From the accounts of the local residents, it seems like the Ø is a pleasant place to live with some shortcomings which inherently are just natural events. It certainly is an ambitious project, given that the tallest building in Denmark is currently in development on the corner of the peninsula. Its name will very poetically be “Lighthouse” and is set to be 142 meters tall. Hopefully, visitors will not be knocked off the roof viewing platform, since the wind is very strong on the Ø. Even with all the buildings around, one cannot escape it. So pack your jacket when you come to see the Ø, the weather is not picking favourites here.


Show me how you hide Cleo Amissah

Cliodhna Hogan, Ireland


Everyone had a different relationship with their body, and came from different backgrounds, but they had one thing in common. Discussing openly a topic known as a taboo can be unsettling. It is not easy to talk about menstruation in 2021.

You hide it yourself. Or you will know someone who hides it. I have hidden it too. Why do we hide? Many single stories exist within a much bigger picture. A lot of energy goes into ensuring that everything stays out of sight, out of mind. The reality is that every month for most women, a new beginning unfolds, and the same pattern is followed. I wanted to dive into the untold secrets of living with a menstrual cycle. I am a 21-year-old woman who decided to document the things that are not always visible, and these are the period comments that I collected along the way. Privacy is a natural concept that often accompanies women’s private areas. Personal stories can be extra sensitive and become difficult to navigate. After speaking to a small group of women, it became evident that they all had a different story lurking. “I normally tuck it into my pants, I wouldn’t want someone to see me with a tampon. I don’t want people to see me holding it.” said Hannah, 22, when talking about the most conventional way of hiding.

Hiding manifests in many different ways. Throwing away the packaging – “I feel like I need to take the bins out.” Using clothing as protection – “I will only wear baggy clothes to hide my stomach.” Speaking in code to remain discrete – “We just don’t talk about it.” Telling lies to obscure the truth – “I had to tell my dad I was ‘sick’.” In 2018, Action Aid carried out a survey to investigate menstrual secrecy. The results showed that 52% of women in the UK said that they deliberately hid sanitary products when carrying them to the toilet, to avoid embarrassment. This level of effort goes beyond being considerate towards others. In fact, it boils down to not feeling comfortable enough to share that it’s “the time of the month”. Shaming is a culture that exists in our everyday lives through school, work and family. It survives through miseducation and feeds the stigma surrounding periods. For many, menstruating feels like something to be ashamed of. Maia, 21, said, “I can feel ashamed if I stain my bed. Then I have to hide it. Why should I?”. In this story, it became clear that women continue to repeat a detrimental routine of hiding


“Sometimes it feels like a weakness, even though you can’t influence it. But it’s not weak, it’s just your body.” Jule things that relate to their period. Sometimes the pressure to hide comes from constant self-surveillance. “I get the feeling that most pressure about hiding I put on myself. So I keep my tampons in separate bag within my bag.”, Jule, 22. But also it can be influenced by the worry of others’ opinions. Supposedly we are living in a time where women’s voices are uplifted and celebrated, but when it comes to discussing the stigmas surrounding menstruation the support disappears. At the most basic level, this means that the body is working correctly, yet girls and women pay penance through period shaming. 50

When asking about past experiences, the women recalled moments of feeling embarrassed. Seeing that someone has leaked through their clothes has happened countless times. An acute moment of dread and panic that many women can identify with rises from within. Right now, 800 million women and youth worldwide are menstruating, so censoring a natural function that half the population experience seems backwards. An environment where menstruation is tainted with indignity and disgust has caused women to isolate instead of unite. How can loneliness be associated with something so relatable?

Milli Amissah, London 51

Jule Ahles, Germany 52

Forcing a conversation to break the stigma will help to reshape the narrative that has been drilled into generations. The lack of proper education makes it difficult to address the taboo, so individuals who don’t menstruate may struggle to empathise. “I wear black out of fear, just in case I do bleed through my pants.” Hannah Currently fear is dictating the decisions that women make regarding their periods. These limitations that restrict daily life have existed for centuries. By exposing the reality of living with periods, a better space can be opened for women to be honest about the struggle that arrives each month. This issue represents a wide variety of women, and I observed that perspectives change depending on different circumstance, but the core theme remains the same. Secrecy is a part of the journey. From the first time that blood makes you feel self-conscious. Then the anxiety of bleeding during sex. And the final time when the release is during a more complicated process, menopause. When something is silenced, it infers the topic is not suitable for public discussion. But almost everyone will have a connection to a period, even if they don’t physically experience one. Something that relates to so many people must qualify as suitable for open conversation. The impacts of the current stigma can be seen through body image, mental health and negative attitudes towards periods. Maia longs “for it not only to be a conversation that you have with your friend.” 53

Water Aid’s 2018 study showed that of the 1000+ women surveyed, a third said that they would not feel comfortable talking about their cycle with anyone at all. The year of the study was the most recent and relevant survey in my research, which shows a clear gap in the coverage of this topic. Water Aid Chief Executive Tim Wainwright said: “Until we stop cloaking the subject of periods in stigma and shame, women and girls wherever they happen to live will not be able to get the facilities and support they need to be able to deal with what is a normal part of life with dignity and confidence.” Cliodhna, 20, told me that the most significant struggle she faces during her period is bloating. “It’s one of the most visible things for me.” Not feeling herself because of the physical pain, competes with her anxieties about body image. Baggy clothes are essential in hiding her stomach. Pain, cravings, hormones. She wanted to inform people that “it’s a lot more than people downplay it to be.” The ultimate goal would be for taboos to fade away into a distant memory. Starting the conversation is one thing, but continuing the conversation is the real aim. For me, blood is not something to be ashamed of. Still, will you ever stop hiding?

“Your period is so much more than just blood.” Cliodhna




Seven white flowers

I come from a country that only exists in dreams. Dreams that have been treasured in the hearts of millions of people for years. Seventy years ago, on the Moluccan Islands in Oceania, my great-grandmother packed her suitcase for a six months stay in a foreign country where her safety would be assured. Suitcases remained closed in hallways and the hope to go home soon was undiminished. However, the promise of a safe return was broken. Months turned into years and temporary became permanent. Today, the Moluccan people have been living in the Netherlands for 70 years.

Rachel Luttikhuisen Tauran


On the 24th of April 1951, ojang* Rie, ojang Silas and their four children moored at the ‘Lloydkade’ in Rotterdam on board of the Castelbianco. From March until June that year, 11 boats arrived and 12,500 Moluccans set foot on Dutch soil.

My great-grandfather, ojang Silas, was a KNIL (Koninklijk Nederlandsch Indisch Leger) soldier for the Dutch colonial army. During the 2nd World War, Japan occupied the Dutch Colony known as the Dutch East Indies, today called ‘Indonesia’. After the Japanese occupation the Dutch government wanted to restore its colonial power. However, Indonesia wanted independence and fought against the Netherlands to gain this. The Moluccan Islands, which are politically a part of Indonesia, fought under the Dutch flag. The KNIL soldiers were instructed to maintain order and to disarm the soldiers

who fought for an independent Indonesia. The Netherlands lost the battle and surrendered sovereignty to Indonesia in 1949. The Moluccans did not want to be a part of Indonesia. So, they proclaimed their own independent state in 1950: Republic Maluku Selatan (RMS). Because the tension between Moluccan Soldiers and Indonesians was growing, the Dutch government decided to make the Moluccan KNIL soldiers members of the Dutch Royal Army and to bring them to the Netherlands on military service. They granted the KNIL soldiers and their family temporary asylum in the Netherlands. But when the KNIL and their families arrived in the Netherlands, they were discharged from the army and placed in camps, including the former Nazi concentration camp Westerbork. They lived in very poor conditions. Closed off from the Dutch society, leaving their place was forbidden. According to the Dutch, it was ‘only temporary’. *Ojang = great grandfather or great grandmother


Ojang Silas and Ojang Rie


Grandmother, Louise Mahulette

After a cold and chilly arrival in Rotterdam, my family was taken to an abandoned monastery where they lived with several families. After that, my family and other families were placed in a castle: ‘De Bruinhorst’. It was in 1964 when they first got their own house in a neighbourhood specially built for Moluccans, known as The Moluccan Neighbourhood. My great-grandparents never moved out of this house, and it eventually became our rumah tua*. It is the house where my mother was born and where she gave birth to me 26 years later. For our culture, it is important that a rumah tua stays within the family, so that in future generations, the house will still belong to the same family. *Rumah tua = family home

Mother, Angelique Tauran

Kain Kebaja, traditional Moluccan clothes


From an early age my mother used to teach me and my younger sister Moluccan manners. Some came from our Moluccan ancestors. One of these manners is called ‘Pelaschap’, which equates to brotherhood. Pelaschap is one of the cultural forms that occupies an important place in daily Moluccan life. Certain villages on the Moluccan Islands made the promise to help each other in times of need, regardless the circumstances. Being a pela with other villages also means that you cannot marry a citizen of the other villages that belong

to your pela. We have learned that people outside of family are also family. ‘Ale rasa, beta rasa’ is a typical Moluccan saying, meaning: ‘What you feel, I feel too.’ In our culture the word ‘family’ does not have to mean that you are connected by blood. Our traditions and ways of living are a shared heritage that is still preserved today. It has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. It is a rich culture that serves as a foundation for my life now and for my future.


How many years ago When I was still little When I think about that time That mama used to carry me While mama was baking sagu She was singing happily Now that I am an adult I will never forget her Oh mama I miss you and I want to go home Oh mama You look so skinny I haven’t told you yet mama That you’ve been looking tired for a while Oh dear ancestors Watch over mama


At the end of the Japanese war in Indonesia, Both of ojang Rie her parents and five younger siblings got bombed on the sea by Japanese military. She was at the age of 19 when she lost them. That loss caused a trauma she carried for the rest of her life. The sea was a place she loved to visit to remember her family. Not only did the sound of the waves or the wind in her hair remind her of home, she knew that her family was there, in the deep depths of the ocean. Laying seven white flowers on the asphalt in the middle of a crossroad was another way for her to remember her family. In Moluccan culture, we believe that a crossroad is a place the souls will always pass by. Ojang Rie was a dedicated christian and went to the Moluccan church every Sunday. In christianity, the white color refers to the light of heaven which the deceased follow after they have passed. According to the bible, white is also the color of God’s kingdom. Number seven is a holy number in christianity; it symbolizes completeness, as the world was created in seven days and the seventh day is the day of God. Seven white flowers: a remembrance of what was lost, a remembrance of my ojang.


Sederhana sadja When I ask my family how they remember ojang Rie they would say that she was an example of an independent, strong woman with a fighting spirit who did everything within her power to give her children a good life full of opportunities. She built a foundation in a country that had never really been her home. ‘Sederhana sadja’ was what she used to tell her children. In other words: always be pure, humble and thankful for what you get.


Conor Courtney

I can not forgive him


I remember the shame. The tears spilling out of my eyes, my hands trembling then clenching into fists, the shame turning to rage then to a blind pain. I was in a grassy field, in view of hundreds of students streaming down towards the open space, when he ran behind me and pulled down my pants and my underwear, exposing me to my friends, classmates, and teachers. Without an idea of what I wanted to do to him, I sprinted after him as he laughed. I eventually caught him and my fists flew for a moment or two before I stopped. I am not sure why I did. I think I unconsciously realized that hurting him was not making my pain dissolve.

the same as any other embarrassing moment in my life. But whenever I finish recounting the story, it still hurts. I gave him many excuses over the years. We were 12. He was not thinking. It was something he saw others do. His act was not so unique. But when he exposed me, he knew the humiliation he would cause me. In the days afterwards, I wanted to be invisible. To shrink into the hard plastic of our navy blue school chairs and never look another classmate in the eye. I remember a few apologizing for what happened, but not him.

I do not think of the moment often, but it still crops up in my mind. I used to think of the moment as embarrassing, as if it was something that could have been avoided or was my fault. Every so often when I speak about the experience, I try to sound nonchalant. Like it was


At some point, we were called to the principal’s office to resolve the situation. We walked through the hallways from our classroom, knowing our parents were waiting for us and our classmates knew why we were pulled out of class. As our shoes squeaked on the blue and white checkered linoleum floors, he said, “When we get there let’s just say I apologized.” I did not correct him when he told the principal he already said sorry to me.




In recent years, apologies have become a cultural flashpoint. People in positions of power and authority, usually men, have been called out, suspended, fired, and arrested for their roles in perpetuating toxic and dangerous environments. In many instances, some version of an “I’m sorry if you felt offended” was offered as an attempt at contrition. In their responses to various levels of societal wrongs, Louis C.K., Morgan Freeman, and Brett Kavanaugh all failed to say the words “I’m sorry.” It took Ellen Degeneres, David Dobrik, and Kevin Hart multiple attempts at an apology in order to start to remedy their wrong. The lack of responsibility and remorse in public apologies piqued my curiosity into what makes a good apology. While it’s easy to shut out celebrities, it’s harder to shut out friends, family, or classmates who hurt us. A proper apology can help remedy the situation - allow-

ing the victim to feel acknowledged, the perpetrator to feel humbled, and it can give steps for the parties to move on from the incident. There are many ways to apologize and five types of apology languages. But to be clear, an apology includes words of contrition like “I’m sorry.” An apology does not shift blame to the victim. An apology is not an explanation of the perpetrators feelings at the time of the offense. As I watched pillars of the arts, politics, and sports in our society struggle with apologies, family and friends began sharing stories of their own experiences with men abusing their power. Many had been irreparably harmed, and few received an apology, but some of them had forgiven the perpetrators. I thought about my own experience and whether I could grant absolution.


I never considered forgiving him until now. At the time, I felt that letting him know how much pain he had caused me would let him win. That if I acted like it never happened, I would not feel the humiliation anymore. An apology would have acknowledged the harm he caused me. Validated that it was not my fault I was humiliated, but instead it was another 12-year-old being an asshole. I think it would have made him a better person, to take responsibility for his actions and understand the impact of what he did. But he did not apologize. He deflected blame and ownership of his actions. I do not seek an apology from him anymore. I do not expect him to come to the realization that his actions profoundly affected me in the following years. His act and apathy made me consider transferring schools, ask my parents to let me stay home so I did not have to face my classmates, and wear a belt every day to school in fear it would happen again.


For years, I wished I would have kept hitting him, pummeling him until he bled, until my hands hurt and someone stopped me, until his face bore a permanent reminder of what he had done and what he received in return. I looked at that brief moment as my only chance to settle the score, and I had let it pass. But I did not feel this way until he said, “let’s just say I apologized,” on the way to the principal’s office, until his father said something along the lines of ‘boys will be boys’ and I should toughen up. In the moment, I think I accepted that hurting him would not make me feel less shame. But after his words, I did not feel the same at all. I do not know how to feel about it now. Maybe I should forgive him. Maybe I would not have a lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach when I have to speak about it. Maybe I would stop wishing I had kept hitting him. But he never apologized. Never showed remorse. He does not deserve my forgiveness. And maybe that is why I should grant it to him. I want to be able to forgive him, but I do not think I can just yet.

A Mother of All Campaigns Leslie Ostronic

“When I was pregnant, I was going to the beach every day and asking the ladies on the beach to sign for me.”

Last summer, Anna Janssen Golieva was collecting signatures to be eligible in Aarhus, Denmark’s 2021 local election. While she was going into labor, she was writing emails to print her election campaign posters. Now, she is breastfeeding and passing out election campaign brochures. Golieva is a member of the Green party, supporting her strong belief in clean air, water and energy. Golieva, 30, from Ukraine, and her husband, Nick Janssen, 30, from Swolgen, Netherlands, moved to Denmark six years ago. In Denmark, a non-EU resident must live in Denmark for four years before they can vote. Golieva was just under the four year mark for the previous election and therefore not able to vote. This year she decided she would not just vote, but run for a seat on Aarhus’ local city 78

council. “Since I knew it was possible for foreigners, I wanted to [run],” she says. Without maternity leave, campaigning would not have been possible. A New Project Her son, Sasha, was born on Sept. 8, 2021. Two weeks after giving birth, Golieva submitted her official application to be on the ballot. In Denmark, a mother gets four weeks before birth and 14 weeks after birth of paid leave. The father is guaranteed two weeks of leave during the first fourteen weeks after birth. Together, parents get 52 weeks of paid leave, 32 of which can be shared between the mother and father however they choose. “I think it is a shame that maternity leave has been designed so that there is only one person at a time,” Golieva says. Golieva and

Nick Janssen plays with Sasha to keep him happy while Anna Janssen Golieva works on her campaign. Janssen says, “If you keep Sasha shocked, then he cannot be unhappy.”

Janssen are fortunate that they can afford to be home at the same time. This way, Janssen is able to be home with Sasha while Golieva is campaigning. When not campaigning or raising their newborn son, Sasha, Golieva is a project manager. She met Janssen in 2013 at the Technical University of Denmark during a four month course. Now, they both work with wind energy. They chose to complete their thesis in Denmark together because of the common ground and Denmark’s “spirit of freedom”. Golieva has been interested in local politics since moving to Aarhus. “In Ukraine, politicians are like a completely different species of people...but 80

here, it is normal citizens who want to make a difference for their community,” she says. The Green Mission Anna Janssen Golieva is the Greens’ only candidate and the only international candidate on the ballot. She says, “I come from a place where we have a very bad ecological situation. I have been hearing about it since I was very little.” Golieva’s hometown is Zaporizhia, Ukraine, the second-largest industrial city in the Dnipro Industrial Region. Zaporizhzia’s pollution is a strong motivation for her choice in the Green party, a green social-liberal party. The party’s primary mission is “a dramatic acceleration of the green transition.”

Anna Janssen Golieva finishes her introduction during a local candidate debate at Fairbar.


Anna Janssen Golieva completes a set of squats while Sasha waits. The cross-fit class includes only moms and their newborns. Around the room, many other babies are sleeping in strollers, on their own yoga mats, or being comforted by the coaches.

Golieva says, “My priority is clean air and clean water. I think it’s just basic things we need to have.” Golieva’s personal mission includes increased availability of vegetarian food, electric vehicle charging and public transportation, and a more international-friendly Aarhus. On Golieva’s brochure, she characterizes herself as an athlete, and rightfully so. She has participated in ballet, pole dancing, climbing and cross-fit. Her main sport is pole dancing, which she has competed in at the national level in Denmark. She still has a pole in her living room, but it is now seldom used, surrounded by congratulation postcards and Sasha’s things. “My friends from pole danc-

ing are achieving new tricks, going to competitions, doing photo shoots, and I would just be alone here with the baby,” she says, “but I have a completely different kind of activity.” “It’s Like Rest” The combination of new motherhood and entering local politics has kept Golieva more than busy. “When the sun is shining, the weather is perfect, I really want to take a walk with Sasha. But then I know that I have to finish my program, finish my brochure, or write some emails,” she says, “I think that was one of the frustrating parts.” Still, she is happy with her decision to campaign.


The campaign has provided her relief from the sometimes overwhelming responsibility of a newborn baby. She says, “I think [campaigning] saved me from post-partum depression. I did not have time to be depressed.” Without Sasha, Golieva could not campaign, and without the campaign, she would be completely preoccupied by Sasha’s needs. “When you switch your activity, it’s like rest,” she says; “That’s why it’s nice to have family time, and then switch to some political time. The election is Tuesday, November 16, 2021. Newly elected members will take office on Saturday, January 1, 2022. Regardless of the results, Golieva is very proud of herself. She says, “I think that it is after the elections that my real maternity leave is going to start.”

Anna Janssen Golieva, at home, enjoys a cup of tea while Sasha sleeps. Golieva says, “Since Sasha was born, I have become so much more patient.”


Solawi - A step towards sustainable agriculture? Carolin Albers

Solawi (SOlidarische LAndWIrtschaft, english: solidarity farming): The idea of solidarity farming is that the members do not pay for the individual products, but finance the farm or agriculture itself. The members finance the farm and in return they get the harvest, a circular economy. Through the membership fees, the farm has a financial basis and can plan better because it knows exactly what the annual budget is. The vegetables do not compete on the free market, but the harvest is shared among the members. The vegetables are regional and seasonal, and on most farms also organic. The concept of solidarity farming comes from Japan, but can now be found in many countries. In Germany there are currently about 250 Solawi farms.


Pesticides, factory farming, monocultures – buzzwords that quickly pop into your head when you talk about agriculture. Conventional agriculture is still the rule in Germany. But there are now many approaches that are all about sustainability. One of them is “solidarity farming”. The “Gemüsekooperative” (vegetable cooperative) in Cologne is one.

It is 8 o’clock in the morning, the sky is overcast and it is cold. Later it is supposed to rain, then it will be even more uncomfortable. “We better harvest the vegetables quickly before the rain,” says the group of five. Fennel by fennel they harvest and fill one box after the other. Tina entertains the group with jokes, Arne drives the fully loaded tractor into the hall in between to unload, Raphael gives a few instructions. Then there is not a single fennel left in the field and it’s on to the cabbage two rows further on. It’s Thursday, harvest day. What is harvested today should be in the kitchen of the members a few hours later – it doesn’t get any fresher than that. The entire harvest is divided among the members so that everyone gets the same amount. What and how much everyone gets, the members have no control over. There are the vegetables, what the season just gives. At the moment, for example, it is cabbage, pumpkin and fennel. When it’s harvest day, volunteers are always welcome. During Corona lockdowns, some came – many were happy to have something to do at all by helping out in the field, and thereby also to have social contacts. “When there is a lot of Corona, many people come, when there is little Corona, few come,” Arne summarizes the volunteer work of the members. Good weather, bad weather 2020 was a good year for the Gemüsekooperative because of the many volunteers and good weather. “2021 was rather a disaster,” Arne says. “We had a lot of worries and could hardly plan because of the weather. In the heavy rain this summer we lost all the peppers, a third of the field was under water.” Every year there is a general meeting where the next year is planned. At the moment, for example, there is always discussion about whether the farm should keep animals as well 89

as vegetables. Or whether the farm should acquire an organic certificate. Although the farm is completely organic, it does not have the organic certificate – since that costs quite a bit and the Gemüsekooperative offers its members to come to the farm and see how the vegetables are grown, because transparency is very important to the Gemüsekooperative. It starts to rain, the group retreats to the hall to do some repair work. At eleven o’clock there is breakfast. Everyone comes together in the common room, which is an office and kitchen in one, takes off raincoats, hats and gloves, and breaks for lunch together. The “breakfast” is more like brunch: porridge, applesauce, a cabbage pan with the cabbage you just harvested, bread, butter, jam, spread, tofu, coffee, tea. A motley crew The group, now sitting around the table and chatting during the meal, is a motley crew: There are Raphael and Arne, two of the seven permanent employees. Raphael is one of the founders of the Gemüsekooperative, 2017 was their first year of farming. Arne is employed as a gardener. And then there are the four interns. Elli has just finished her studies and, in her mid-twenties, is the youngest. She lives – just like the other intern Jonas – in the construction trailer on the farm for the duration of the internship. Then there’s Tina, who used to work in human resources until she trained as


a hydraulic engineer, which she couldn’t finish because of Corona. She won’t be in Germany much longer; starting in January, she wants to live and travel in a camper. And then there is Harald, in his late 50s, who used to work in an agency and in marketing. Where he will end up in career terms after the internship, he doesn’t know yet. “Solawi is something where the future is shaped,” he says. And Arne summarizes: “We are not a left-wing, radical bunch, but a participatory agriculture. Of course, there are ideals behind it and it is also political.”



Gemüsekooperative Köln-Lövenich: The Gemüsekooperative is a Solawi farm. Once a week, the 230 active members can pick up their vegetables at 16 depots in the Cologne city area. The members have no influence on how much each gets and what one gets. The membership fee is at least 60 euros a month plus an investment deposit of 400 euros. Once a year there is a general meeting where the annual budget and thus the membership fees are set. Plans such as investments are also presented there. The vegetable cooperative does not operate for profit. 93

After the break, the pallets are prepared for picking. As soon as the harvest is in the hall, it is weighed, counted, calculated – and then everything is distributed. There are 16 pick-up stations in the Cologne area, some of which hold the vegetables for members at an allotment, others simply in a garage – or sometimes a bar. Arno and Alwin Every Thursday, two drivers come to load the vegetables into delivery trucks and drive to the various stations. One of them is Arno and his dog Alwin. He used to work as a metal worker and is now retired. After Arno’s wife passed away, he didn’t want to sit around at home alone and volunteered to be a driver – now he comes to Lövenich every Thursday, loads the vegetable boxes and starts his tour through Cologne. Meanwhile, his dog sits next to him on the passenger seat and follows the traffic just as Arno does. Every now and then, Arno stops briefly at the side of the road, takes a few boxes out of his van, and a piece of paper that says how much each member gets, and puts the things down. The members then come a little later and take the things with them. For pumpkin, fennel and the like, it’s by the piece; for field salad, chard, herbs, the members weigh out their share. That works – only one depot has been missing vegetables for a long time. More and more often, members stood there in the evening to pick up their share – only to find that the share was not there. Where the vegetables disappear to is unclear. In order to find out, the freely accessible depot will be looked after by members in the near future, so that everyone can get their share. Last stop: Arno unloads the last boxes, then that’s it again for this Thursday. And also on the farm in Lövenich it’s closing time, tomorrow it goes on, whether it’s raining or the sun is shining. 94


BAX Ilkay Karakurt


It is autumn, the leaves gather on the ground in front of Ungdomskulturhuset (UKH), a youth centre in Aarhus. This is „a safe and secure space for young people to unfold, find peace of mind and be creative.“ I take the two steps to the entrance. Huge neon lights are attached to the canopy forming „UKH“. This is where I meet him. He has short hair, a smile on his face and is wearing a bright yellow sweater and very wide pants with attached pieces of fabric. They seem to be handmade. A pearl necklace is around his neck. His outfit looks very fashionable. Most of the days there is some sort of event, get together or a dinner like today. Everyone is preparing something. He is sitting at a table folding paper flowers for decoration. I join in and ask how to make them since I never have done it before. He says he will not explain it to me, I just have to try it, and then he smiles. The guy introduces himself as Bax. Straight from the beginning I can tell that we get along pretty well. We share stories and talk about our origins. He was born in Pakistan but his parents are from Afghanistan.




His parents came to Denmark in 2001 with his older brother and him. Bax was just about one year old. First he grew up in a smaller town, then they moved to Aarhus. Right now he is visiting Aarhus for a couple days but he actually lives in Copenhagen. UKH is a second home for Bax. He spent a lot of his youth in the many places the youth centre was located before. Finally, after over ten years of existence UKH found a permanent place to stay here in the former county hospital of Aarhus. Finding a place to stay is also difficult for Bax. He tells me that he has been homeless the last ten months. Most people connect homelessness with living on the streets but it actually starts when you do not have your own flat. This can happen pretty fast. I can only imagine how hard it is to live out of a suitcase for such a long time. Depending on the good will of others and cramping all your belongings in a suitcase and a few IKEA bags and moving frequently from couch to couch must be tiring. Bax explains how he lived with some sort of prince he first met in the streets and then found him on Grindr, then different couches of friends and eventually he also lived with a homosexual Imam. He could stay there free of rent in exchange for helping the Imam with bureaucracy and life in Denmark, since he just moved here from Afghanistan. Bax stayed there for a couple of months and became friends with him. But at one point it was too much. He then became a backup dancer for a drag queen and stayed with one of the girls he met there.

When Bax was eleven years old he realized for the first time that he was attracted to boys rather than girls. From then on Bax tried to hide his homosexuality. „When I used to get bullied I would always hangout with the girls because the guys wouldn’t let me hangout with them. That affected me in the way I see guys.“ He even hooked up with girls sometimes to uphold the disguise. But in the end it was not successful as his bigger brother told their parents of Bax’ sexual orientation. The parents were devastated and disappointed. „Why would you do this to us, to our family?“, said his mother.


Right after finishing school he felt that it was time. He was not capable of being with his family anymore. The permanent pressure of pretending to be someone else was a way of life he could not continue anymore. Bax’ actual name is Bilal and he lived with his four siblings and parents together. Often times he would ask to go to his grandparents place. To sense a little bit of freedom. There were no parents or a bigger brother judging him. „My grandfather always wore suits.“, he remembers. „I probably have my joy for fashion from him.“ One day he arranged to be picked up by a friend and leave his family and Aarhus for good. During the day Bilal prepared some bags to take with him and every time he heard someone coming he hid the bags under his bed. The street Bilal lived in has a dead end. So every approaching car was noticed by the family. The friend who came to pick him up switched off the engine and let the car roll to Bilal’s house. Although it was late his brother and mother were still awake. In the silence of the night he had to sneak out of the window with all the bags he packed. At that moment his new life began with a huge chunk of uncertainty. He was 19 when he left for Copenhagen. When Bax came to UKH the first time in 2015


he found some peace there. He could express himself as he wanted to be. No acting or concealment. „UKH is a safe space for me. It’s heaven.“ But there were limits to it. The parameters of this freedom ended where the walls of UKH where built. The arms of his extended family stretched over the whole city. Everyone knows each other and everyone talks. „People will ask my parents what’s wrong with their son? What is he wearing? It is all about reputation.“, Bax says. Furthermore his father has a small taxi company. He can bump into him everywhere on the streets of Aarhus. The next day after the dinner I go to UKH again. I look for the sewing room where Bax stays usually. It is his favorite area of course. He is currently working on some new pants. The fabric is covered with grey, white and black and rectangles. He wants to add another reticulate fabric. I help him ironing and listen to his many experiences he made just in the last two years after leaving his parents. I have the feeling that he must be so much older considering all his stories. I try to meet Bax again the next couple days but he is not responding. At UKH I check the corner where his belongings were the last time but they are all gone and nobody knows of his whereabouts. We wanted to go to Copenhagen together. He wanted to show me the bar where he found a new job and on top of that his new flat. I start worrying as a few days pass without any sign of life. Maybe it was too much for him and he went back? Soon I realize that that is how he is. As fast as he can appear he also disappears again. After five days I get a text message. He had a tough time but is still in Aarhus since he has to deal with a few things. One of the employees


at UKH helped him and suggested to stay in Aarhus rather going back to Copenhagen. He asks me to meet again in the sewing room. When I see him again, Bax tells me: „I was born on the 8th March. It is the international Woman’s day. A Special day for equality.“ For him Copenhagen is freedom. After arriving he quickly realized the opportunities he has in the capital. „Nobody cares how I’m dressed. Nobody judges me. Now I’m free.“ The LGBTQ community is also far bigger than in Aarhus. „In two years of being in Copenhagen you can’t really not miss out on hooking up with whoever. So I had my fair share of exploration of my sexuality. Bax started an internship for a fashion designer, where he learned the basics of creating his on clothes. He absorbed everything. However there was also a dark side attached to his newly


gained freedom. Eventually he was introduced to different drugs. GHB or „G“ as it increases lust and decreases inhibitions. Its use is fairly common in the gay community Bax says. Furthermore he came in contact with crystal meth. For some time Bax used it on a daily basis. He was aware of this toxic environment and understood that it is important to cut ties to some people. One leads to the other and he could not make ends meet. Lost his home. But that is the past. Now he is making new beginnings. He looks forward to his new job at the bar and the flat he is going to share with new people. In the long run Bax is determined to study fashion design. That is why he is spending a lot of his time sewing clothes. To build up a portfolio for his application next year. His plans on staying in Aarhus for now changed abruptly as he has to attend a funeral in Copenhagen. We leave UKH to meet a few friends of his in a bar. The evening is fun but we have to go back to UKH to get all his belongings. I help carry his bags to the main station, we share a cigarette and then he is gone. Again. Since then, I have not heard from him, yet.


CONOR COURTNEY @conor_courtney US



AKU RATSULA @akuratsula US


LESLIE OSTRONIC @photostronic US

Special thanks to Line Hassall Thomson

Lars Prevelakis Bai

Mads Greve

Cover photos by: Rachèl Luttikhuisen & Elena Fiebig © 2021 Photo I Students © 2021 Danish School of Media and Journalism Print: Eccograf Gruppen Printed in Aarhus, Denmark 2021

Thank you to all who shared stories for their trust and patience.


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