Nothing Complicated

Last night in my Portuguese class, our teacher asked us whether we would like to contribute to the next issue of the school newspaper, which would be themed “Multiculturalism”.  The idea was to share the story of our migration experience. “Before and after, what it is like living in a new country, how it is different from your home countries,” she explained, making it sound quite simple, nothing complicated, and, she pointed out, it would be a good opportunity to work on our Portuguese essay writing skills…

 Then, to practise our listening skills, the teacher read an interview with a young Ukrainian immigrant, recounting his story to a journalist.  We listened carefully, in order to respond to the exercise questions (What happened to Igor’s father?; Why did his mother come to Portugal?;  Why did Igor decide to come to Portugal?; Why is it difficult for him to renew his residence permit?; Does Igor consider returning to Ukraine?).  We answered these questions swiftly, as Igor’s responses to the journalist’s questions were short and clear: Igor’s father was killed in an accident while working in Portugal; his mother had to come here to repay his father’s debts; Igor came to be with his mother; he could not yet obtain a formal work contract; and he preferred to stay in Portugal.  It was nothing complicated.

Travel notes: Brussels, Belgium

I have just returned from a long weekend in Brussels – the impression this rain-defying city left on me is one of diversity: I was expecting familiar notes (in the resonance between Flemish and Afrikaans), but I also found sounds of Portuguese, Arabic, Spanish, Italian and Cantonese, among others.  Then there was the assortment of food and shops reflecting a mix of cultures (reminding me of South Africa as well).  What a (refreshing) difference diversity makes!  What is it like where you are?

Border Poetry

Translating ~ Uljana Wolf

my dear: this is

our pothole love

our little border traffic

awkward under tongues

our whispered prayer

and now stroke me

on this ink stamp pad

until customs comes

my dear: maybe we’ll

smuggle utterly

full-fledged taste buds

gazeta wyborcza and

mint some money

stuffing a suspect

oral cavity

at rush hour