“It was really sweet: the teacher planned a breakfast at school the week before I left. Unfortunately, she got ill and was at the hospital so she couldn’t make it. She left me a gift, I still have it.
It’s a book about a German boy who visits his best friend in Ghana. His best friend lives in Germany but he always goes back to Ghana to see his family. The two boys are 10 and it’s the story of a German boy that goes with his family and friends to Ghana. It’s called “my friend lives in Africa” and it is exploring in a really sweet way cultural differences and how to navigate them in an interracial, inter-ethnic friendship.
It was super sweet and funnily, my best friend ended up being Ghanaian. The first person I met when I got to Zimbabwe was a Ghanaian and she was the one being there for me, helping me with everything. And this book was almost symbolic to me. A symbolic lead up to what would happen in my life. “
"The culture is very Americanized, because of the tourist industry and the proximity. TV, books, movies, just a lot of American influence more than anything else. Food-wise, it’s so diverse. Even more diverse than Holland in a way, or it feels that way because of the population size and density. Everything is imported but for example, you have a lot of people, languages and food influence from South America, India, China and the Caribbean in general which makes life very rich."
What do you miss from Aruba?
"Family, the sea, the casual humour in the street. Saying hi to everyone, which is considered, you know, polite and normal. Being able to be outside all the time, everyday. It's almost never below 27 degrees. When it rains, it’s actually very nice. It cools down and you wear a sweater. There is a shorts-culture and flip flop to the point that for me it was so strange to wear boots. The first months I struggled to wear a scarf so I would just be cold instead. I think what you cannot prepare for is what daily life will feel like, you know. The accumulation of your interactions with the people, the life you end up living, which is a lot just inside or going to a café or bar. You cannot just hang out outside. You have to get used to that."
“My mom and my dad both speak Portuguese. He works for Doctors without Borders for 25 years and he worked in Mozambique, Rwanda and Angola. He met my mom there. They came here, my mom didn’t speak Dutch but she wanted to teach us Portuguese. So the deal would be that my dad would speak in Dutch and my mom in Portuguese. But my elementary teacher thought we shouldn’t do that because he said our Dutch wouldn’t be as good. My mom was so young when she came here. She didn’t speak Dutch so she thought she needed to practice somehow, beside classes. She thought she might as well try to speak Dutch with her children so we never learned Portuguese properly.”
Do you remember when she would try to talk to you in Portuguese?
“It’s really funny because actually, we found this book last time I was home. It was all the simplest words like alarm clock, hedgehog in Portuguese with pictures. My mom would say them in Dutch and we would have to point them out and say the word in Portuguese. It was a fun way to learn. We also had Portuguese lessons but it stopped after I was 5. I am kind of sad that my mom didn’t teach us longer.”
"I started my company as a freelance photographer four years ago. I started in the nightlife scene mostly at student parties. I was always into photography from childhood and one day I got the opportunity to try taking pictures at a student party and since that moment I'm doing it on a regular basis. Later on, it evolved into more diverse photography and I’m now even doing corporate events."
Could you do something with photography later? Can you make a job out of a hobby?
"At first, I would say no, I don’t think so. It is now really a side job to earn money. The more I’m doing it, the less it becomes a hobby because you’re taking so many pictures that, even on your free time, I think “let’s enjoy my normal life without the camera”. You’re less inclined to do it for fun, so it’s a bit of a pity."
In Arabic every name has a meaning.
When I was leaving, a friend told me “You have to own up to your name. Your name is Siham and it means Arrow. You know what that means.”
I was like yeah, arrows.
“No, it means you will always hit your goal and you are that girl so never forget where you name comes from. But what is more important is that you have to remember the name of your dad.”
My dad’s name means Ambition. طموح
She told me “You are your dad’s daughter and you are full of ambition and you should never let go of your ambition.”
And this is what I have been trying to do. Pursue my goals and remain as ambitious as possible.
I’ve always hated my name because I was named after my aunt, who died at a young age but now that I think about it this way…
In Arabic, we have a meaning that everybody takes something from his or her names so what are you going to take from your name? And this is what I am going to take from mine.
You own it and it adds something to you, but you also got to add something to it.