Laila Keeling & Anjali Zyla
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I am from Iran, 20 years old, and I have been in Germany for 3 years. Mona is my mother. I have been going to school in Germany for 2 years. In this home, I have been living for almost 2 years, together with my mother and my 12 year old sister.

We came to Germany by plane. We had a little problem with the politics in Iran, and that’s why we left the country. We heard that Germany is a good country, with good politics and good people, so that’s why we chose Germany. The political situation is different here than in Iran. In Iran, it is not good, but in Germany it is better. In Iran, sometimes I saw racism and stuff like that, but here not at all.

When we arrived in Germany in 2019, we were in Hamburg for 3 months because my aunt lived there, so we lived at her house. Now she is back in Iran because she divorced her husband and went back to Iran, but she was in Germany for 2 or 3 years. From Hamburg we went to Eisenhüttenstadt. After 2 days in Eisenhüttenstadt we lived in a camp in Doberlug-Kirchhain for 6 months. Since then we have been here.

I worked in Doberlug-Kirchhain as a translator and there were a lot of classes and a lot of people learning German. So I learned German there for 3 months and then I worked as a translator. I translated Persian to German or English. The home was good because it was much bigger than here and there were big apartments with many families and many young people, and a German course. But this place where we are now is better than Doberlug-Kirchhain because it is much closer to Berlin. In Doberlug-Kirchhain we always had to pay for many tickets and it was very expensive. Here it is very small and very relaxed.

This town is good, but we have a problem here; the room is too small for us. We all live together in one room, with my sister and mother. I have written a letter 4 or 5 times to the social welfare office or to the immigration office but they have not answered. We have only this one problem. I come home from night school at 9 pm and want to study or do my schoolwork, but my sister wants to go to sleep at 10 pm. So we all turn out the lights, and then I can’t study. It’s a problem. It’s also very noisy in the home sometimes. There are some other families living here, and we get along with them, but sometimes they have problems with each other and argue and yell and fight. That is sometimes difficult.

In Iran I went to school until 11th grade, and then we moved to Germany. Everything was good in school in Iran, my grades were good. I studied there for 2 years in high school. Yes, everything was good. Now I am in 10th grade in a school here. I am in school from 6am to 8:30pm because I don’t live near the school, and I have to go to evening classes. At school everything is good, I have many friends, and I can talk to everyone. In my school everyone is from age 18 to 24, it is a school for secondary education.

I want to complete 10th grade and then I will do my Abitur [last 2 years of high school] in Potsdam for the next 2 years. At the end of these 3 years I will get a diploma, and with that I can continue my studies at the university or do an apprenticeship. Of course I want to work, but first I have to study a bit, and then I want to work. Now it will take 3 more years. I would like to work in the field of medicine, for example, I would like to be an orthopedist or a nurse. All the people here seem to work in the hospital.

It will be difficult when I always have to go to Potsdam for my Abitur, but I have to go, I have no other choice. I have an advisor at the Diakonie [a charitable organization of Protestant churches] and we tried to find a spot for me to do my Abitur at many schools, and only were successful at a school in Potsdam. Because my current school is for adults and for secondary education, it was very hard to find a school for my Abi. I think it will take an hour, every day, to go to Potsdam. I have to take a train to Ludwigsfelde, and then a bus to Potsdam. It’s a bit annoying.

The director of this home helps me sometimes, and I have my advisor at the Diakonie, who has helped me too. I looked for many German courses on the internet for my mother, because she only speaks A1 level German. But because of Corona, she couldn’t go to a course for 2 years. Now she is going to a course.

My father is in Iran, but we want to stay in Germany. I want to study in Berlin and for work I want to go to western Germany, maybe Cologne or something. My mother says she wants to live in an exciting city where there is a lot to do. It’s boring here.



My name is Mona and I am 43 years old. In Iran I was a dance teacher and I went to the gym three times a week and I was a basketball coach.

The trip to Germany was good and Germany is good, but we have one problem. We all live together in one room. In Iran, we had 4 rooms in our apartment. My son had his own room, my daughter had a room, and I had a room. Here, I want to study German at 10 pm, and my daughter wants to sleep, that’s a problem. At 3pm, when I just want to take a quick nap for a short time, it’s very noisy in the home, and I can’t. I take a pill every night so I can relax and sleep.

We have friends in other areas and they all have their own homes. For example in Potsdam Mittelmark or in Bernau. We are the only ones who don’t have an apartment and live in a camp. We first needed permission from the immigration office to tell us how big and how expensive our apartment could be, but now we are always told that there are no free apartments in Teltow-Fläming. We are still in the process of getting our residence permit. But we have other friends who are also in the process and still have their own apartment.

I have been going to a German course for three months and my level is probably A1 or A2. I like my German course very much. I am very happy with my teacher. During my lunch break, my classmates speak German with me. I don’t have contact with the Germans, but I have a lot of people in my German class that I can talk to and practice German with. The course is in Luckenwalde and my son found the course for me himself. Unfortunately, nobody helps us with such things.

I would like to do an apprenticeship after the German course, so I can get a job working at a daycare. But I have to pass B2 first, so it will take some time. This is now my first real German course, except for the 2 months where I learned German in Doberlug-Kirchhain. I worked in Doberlug-Kirchhain as a mentor, so I helped the people from Iran with translating and stuff, and I worked as a dance teacher.

My daughter is doing well. She is very quiet, she is 12 years old and in the 6th grade. She has a lot of stress because she is in school for a long time and everyone else at school is German. But that is normal, she has to have contact with the Germans and her German is getting very good.

I don’t have many friends here. We have a family that we are friends with. And we have a family friend in Berlin, so we often spend Saturday and Sunday in Berlin with him. It’s very boring here. Our friend in Berlin works in Hamburg, and we’ve known him for 3 years. He is an old friend of my sister’s so we used to see him a lot back then too.

I would like to thank all Germans, this country is very beautiful and the people are very nice. I have not experienced any discrimination in Germany. My only wish is that I would like to have only a small apartment. Just 2 rooms, a kitchen, just something small. We have written many letters to the social welfare office and the immigration office, but nothing has happened. This is my only wish.


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