Omid from the German group reflects on his experiences with ID: Babylon

Living the ID:Babylon experience was continuously surprising to me, I had lots of fun along the journey. Since coincidentally my roots are connected with the historical city of Babel and I have a passion to keep its cultural and traditional torch burning, my sister and I were able to put a piece of our identity into the play (our language, dances, music etc.) and in a way, my identity was also being reshaped and added-on. I have learnt a lot from the other participants from all over Europe and we lived special moments that are now a part of us. However, the moment that struck me the most and would most-likely resonate with me the longest was not one of those.

Omid performing in the show.

We toured the show we made to Poland. After the performance, we had a post-show talk with the audience (school students and their teachers). We sat down. The lights changed. I could see their faces now and from deep within me an emotion started rising. A familiar one and yet I was not able to recognize it in that moment. Silence and teenage awkwardness took over the place for a bit. So I took the initiative and the first words that came out of my mouth were “sooo… are there any questions?” I glanced over to see if anyone raised their hand, and it was then I was able to see that some of them were avoiding eye-contact purposefully. I crossed my arms and legs and that emotion I couldn’t place was getting stronger. My whole body closed up on itself. A hand went in the air and a young man asked “where do you originally come from?” To be honest, that is a very reasonable question – my mother-tongue Aramaic does not have a lot of resemblance to German or English. I felt an irrational fear that I might say something wrong, even though there is nothing wrong to say in answer to that question. I answered anyway and afterwards the talk went smoothly.

I’ve read about the political situation regarding refugees in Poland before but I did not give it much thought before we went there because I can’t do anything about it. I’m saying this because the conversation felt weighed down by that subject matter and when it started, the context hit me all of the sudden. The emotion that I was having was the same that I had when I was a 15 year old boy in Syria during the revolution. It was one of being in the opposition and always having my guard up, I didn’t want for anyone to know my thoughts because it might have a negative impact on my family and me. The resemblance was shocking. The same thoughts in my head, the same looks from people around me that knew about it and the same walls that I’d surrounded myself with inside so that no one sees me. Once I realised this I was able to get over that fear and everything was back to normal… A girl asked us to sing something and we did, and few of them even sang with us because they knew that song.

The German group on stage.

This experience wasn’t particularly good or bad but very interesting for me nonetheless. It speaks volumes about today’s society. Just to avoid misunderstandings what I’m referring to in this report is not the current political or sociological state in Poland but only my own experiences. I’m not in any way, shape or form able to comment on the political situation in Poland, and / or trying to give a bad impression of Polish people. In fact, the next day I was with the same young people in a workshop, and they were very competent and most importantly, very nice. We worked together and learned a lot from each other, and this for me is the beauty of ID: Babylon.

(Omid, 22 years, one of the young participants of ID:Babylon from Germany, written in September 2019)

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