‘Sustainability isn’t just the thoughtful use of resources. It’s also ensuring that people from different cultures have the same opportunities.’
In 2015, Sevan Magid fled Syria with her parents and siblings for an uncertain future. At an information event on integration, she discovered the option of an internship at REHAU. After her internship, she applied for an apprenticeship, and is now in her third year as a commercial apprentice. We talked to her about her day-to-day and her life as a Syrian in Germany.
Sevan Magid describes her day-to-day and her life as a Syrian in Germany
Ms Magid, how did you end up at REHAU?
When we came to Germany, I wanted to learn German and make contacts quickly. I learned about the option of doing a two-week internship at REHAU from a friend who also works at the company. I did an entrance test, applied for a commercial internship and got accepted. I really liked the internship, so I applied for an apprenticeship. In the nine months between the internship and the apprenticeship, I took two German courses. However, at vocational school, I still had trouble understanding everything at the beginning. All the technical terms, and the local dialect … But things moved quickly. After all, my only option was to quickly pick up German. You can’t take part in life if you can’t speak the language.
Have your parents and siblings found new prospects, too?
My whole family has been lucky. Everyone has been able to build a life in Germany. My siblings have found apprenticeships. My youngest brother is still at school. And my father has opened a business in Hof.
What kind of professional training did you have planned in Syria?
I wanted to study and become an engineer. I would have had a lot of opportunities. But I would have had to study engineering in another city, and I couldn’t start there because of the war. That’s why I eventually ended up choosing English, as I could study near my home town. But that university was unfortunately also destroyed in the war. When it came to education, Syria was once the role model for the Arab world. But when civil war broke out, everything changed.
As an apprentice at REHAU, you get to know different departments. Have you been involved with issues around sustainability?
Yes, for example, I worked in our edgeband production plant. Here, I sorted edgeband production surplus to ensure that return materials could be re-used and no recyclable materials were wasted.
But sustainability isn’t just the thoughtful use of resources. It’s also working together day-to-day and ensuring that people from different cultures have the same opportunities. One specific sustainability project at REHAU is investment in internal training and making young people fit for work. I’m a good example of that. I’m grateful to REHAU for giving me the opportunity of doing an apprenticeship here.
What do you think of your life in Germany?
When I’m asked where I come from and I answer ‘Syria’, I’m often afraid how people will react. There are a lot of prejudices about refugees, for instance, that they get money from the government for doing nothing. But to me, being a ‘refugee’ means I’ve lost a great deal: friends, relatives, my culture. I came to Germany and felt as if I was born again at age 20. I have to relearn everything from scratch: the language, new friends, society, neighbours, public holidays, the culture. Sometimes, that’s very tough.
But I believe we can all learn something from each other. Lots of refugees want to stay in Germany and show that integration is possible and that it can bring diversity and new prospects.
Some Germans are afraid that we refugees are changing German society. I can understand that, too. But if both sides talk to each other and everyone lives together peacefully side-by-side, the country will grow and develop. You need to keep talking to each other, so history doesn’t repeat itself.