Refugees, flows of refugees and their destinies, all that I knew so far only from TV, i.e. with much distance from real events, admittetly. What it means to be directly faced with the “refugee situation” itself I could experience recently on my way back from South Tyrol to Munich and at last yesterday watching the play “Fliehen & Forschen” on stage.
It is just my second ride on the Eurocity from Verona to Munich. My first ride took just place a week earlier, in reverse order. Also on my journey there there were some Africans on the train. But, I guess they did not go there for hiking. On my way back from Bozen to Germany I was kind of taken aback when I came to Bozen main station and saw all those Africans waiting on the plattform for the Eurocity. Will they all be going into my direction? I wondered. I realised people wearing T-Shirts labeled with “Aid Worker” on it. I took it that those African weren’t tourists but refugees coming from the South of Italy.
Actually the train is packed. Almost as the only European female I sit in my waggon amongst Africans talking animated to each other. I squeeze myself into my seat, I read a book and find myself watching my benchmates. I wonder from which place in the world the Africans might come from, why they are sitting in this train, what has happened to them. I also wonder what they will be doing in Germany and whether they are going to stay in Munich?
The Africans do not seem to be unhappy, traumatized and do not look like they have just got away with their lives. But of course, that is just an assumption of mine. Actualy, I slip deeper into my seat when my benchmate takes a nap and his head and his hand fall on “my” side. Allowedly, I do not like that situation too much. I cannot image doing something like this in “his” country. Ooops, am I acting typically German or even xenophobic? I do not know, but I know, that I simply do not want his hand on my knee.
As we arrive in Munich I realize how many federal policemen are waiting on the plattform. Are the awaiting the refugees? I look into their faces. The do not look very friendly – they rather look like they are ready to pick and choose the black sheeps among the Africans. But that is just another assumption of mine.
Sitting in my connecting train I think about my behaviour, my thoughts and feelings being confronted with “real” refugees. I realise that watching refugees in the boats on TV is something totally different from being faced with them in a train. It is different, yet strange? But why, because I am full of cliches? Because I am influenced by media and stereotypes? I do not know anything about those people coming to us and maybe those Africans just think the same. I think I should give more thoughts to my attitude and where it stems from. Maybe we all shoud consider that, because, is it not possible that we might find ourselves in their shoes some day? I would not be anybody be happy to be welcomed with a smile and without being confronted with stereotyps?