Dejwana: “Switzerland? It’s better than Lebanon, where we struggled to be accepted”
“When I arrived in Switzerland with my family, we didn’t speak French at all. In Geneva, I was placed in a reception class, but I was eventually able to join the normal 11th year of the orientation cycle (the last year of compulsory education). It’s tough, because I’m with pupils who were born here and I don’t have the same level as them, except in English, where I’m doing well.
My plan for next year was to go to the Ecole de commerce (business school), but it turns out that because of my level of maths, I’ll go to the Ecole de culture générale (general school) instead. Then, I’ll go on to be a social worker. Later, what I’d like in fact is to open my own business, something where I manage a team. I’ll do that in Dubai, as I like the city and speak Arabic, so it will work well there. At one point I thought about joining the police, but you need a Swiss passport to do that, and I’m not very sporty anyway.
Switzerland? It’s better than Lebanon, where we struggled to be accepted. In my everyday life, I like to write. It’s what I do when I don’t feel good. I prefer that to talking. Sometimes I write in French. In my spare time, I go out with my friends. We go for a walk along the lake and eat a pizza, for example. At home, my mum prepares specialties from our country, but I know fondue! I ate some once at my dad’s friend’s house. It was tasty, but after two or three pieces, I’d had enough. There are some very beautiful places in Switzerland. I went with my class to Ticino, for example, and I loved it. It was like being in Italy. Voting at 16? Personally, I wouldn’t be ready to do that, but I support the idea. Some people already have ideas and can help to change things.”
*2005, arrived in Switzerland in October 2017, from Lebanon. She is Kurdish and grew up in Syria. She lives in Geneva with her parents, an older brother and two younger sisters. The family has been granted asylum.
The portraits of all 16 young people interviewed
- Anne: “I have the vote, so I want to use it”
- Jason: “I am a keen, effective, quick-witted debater”
- Johanna: “We could use our voice to do more against climate change”
- Kimmo: “I would like to sail around the world”
- Juliette: “The decisions that are made do affect the lives of young Swiss citizens”
- Lionel: “We need to create spaces for young people.”
- Yves: “I give my all playing football”
- Moritz: “I take responsibility for my decisions”
- Malin: “Missing a few hours of classroom time is a trifling matter in view of the climate crisis we face”
- Cléo: “Swiss politics? It’s a huge muddle for such a little country.”
- Olivia: “I want to add my voice to the fight against inequality”
- Noelia: “Sitting around at home is not really my thing”
- Lisa: “After all, it is our future at stake”
- Dejwana: “Switzerland? It’s better than Lebanon, where we struggled to be accepted”
- Elena: “I always try to form my own opinion”
- Valérie: “We should start with the little things in our own lives first”