Why did you leave Venezuela
To be an emigrant means to be brave, tolerant and strong, to have the ability to survive in a cold country and not lose the Caribbean soul, to try day after day, even if it is difficult, for example at -16 degrees to walk around
What does the word “emigrant” mean to you?
I had never seen myself as an emigrant. I always saw myself in my home country. There I was fulfilled, felt complete. Perhaps at some point I thought of signing up for a course or studying at an international university to expand my knowledge, but I never thought that I would build my family and my entire life in another country. It's tough being an expatriate. Although we have actually been very lucky since we left Venezuela, it is “common” to experience racism because we speak Spanish or because we laugh “out loud”.
To be an emigrant means to be brave, tolerant and strong, to have the ability to survive in a cold country and not lose the Caribbean soul, to try day after day, even if it is difficult, for example at -16 degrees walking around and not being able to communicate with other people. To be an emigrant means to be born again, because you have to learn everything all over again: to speak, to eat, to dress, to behave differently than you are used to, as you have done, as with me, in the last 30 years Has.
How did you choose the country you live in? What were the main reasons for this?
Before we got married, my current husband, Ron Davis Álvarez, received a job offer in Gothenburg, Sweden. There he would be the artistic director of “El Sistema”, an educational and musical model inspired by the Venezuelan music project “El Sistema”, founded by José Antonio Abreu, who was my husband's mentor (...). That's why we accepted the offer and emigrated.
How has your integration into the new culture been so far: Do you have the feeling that it has changed your own culture?
Swedish culture, like Scandinavian in general, is very cold and distant. Although we have been fortunate enough to work with Swedes who, for example, allow themselves to be hugged and kissed when greeted, this is not at all common. The Swedes are more individualists, even if they show extreme solidarity at the same time. Our incorporation into this culture has been very slow. Even if everyone in Sweden speaks English, you actually have to be able to speak Swedish if you want to have friends, if you want to go to the theater, to a musical, or even to church for mass. I am currently learning Swedish and already understand a few words, but being able to speak properly is very complicated (...). Some say it can take up to two years for "the tongue to loosen up". Swedish culture hasn't really changed my own yet. I am very Venezuelan: I hug people when I greet them; I laugh out loud; I have breakfast “Arepa” every day (the breakfast here is rather cold); I'm very tropical and that's why the heating in my home is always turned to the maximum; i listen to merengue, salsa and joropo while i cook; I leave my seat to the elderly; we have dinner at 8 p.m., not at 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. But there are quite a few Swedish customs that we have adopted: We now light candles with dinner and we enjoy every ray of sunshine when the sun is shining, because here we spend practically six months a year with very few hours of sunshine and the sun does not warm properly until late May or early June.
Do you have general and / or professional relationships with Venezuelans? And if so, how is your relationship with them?
I don't know any Venezuelan journalists in Sweden. To work as a journalist in Sweden you have to write in Swedish. I have contact with a few Venezuelans who live in Gothenburg and we have a good Venezuelan friend that we met here.
How is your relationship with Venezuela from abroad?
I am always in contact with my family. I call them every day, even if it is sometimes complicated because of the difficulties with the Internet in Venezuela. I know first hand, through my family, what is happening in Venezuela. I also read the news from Venezuela and around the world on twitter every day and also listen to Venezuelan radio. I have not shut myself off from my home country and that is not going to happen. I always say my mind and body are in Sweden, but my heart continues to beat in Venezuela.
Has the experience abroad enriched your career? How and why
This is the first time I've lived outside of Venezuela. In the beginning it was very difficult because I couldn't speak English and also no Swedish. I had to learn two languages at the same time, so I have mainly devoted my time in Sweden (now almost two years) to languages and also supported my husband in his work, especially in the Dream Orchestra, a children and youth orchestra for war refugees Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Angola, who had never played an instrument in their lives and now, after a year since the orchestra was founded, are already practicing challenging pieces of music. Of course, I haven't left my journalism career aside either. I've had a lot more time to read. I've also worked with a few magazines. In this context, I was able to live out my deeper interests: the change in people through art and, of course, the news.
Place of birth: Caracas.
Current City:Gotemburg, Sweden.
- 2006 - 2013 | Arts and culture journalist for the arts and entertainment division of El Universal newspaper, Caracas.
- 2013 - 2015 | Press officer for the music project Sistema Nacional de Orquestas y Coros Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela.
- 2015 | Published an interview in the book “Nuevo País Musical” by Fondo Editorial Banesco, Caracas.
Translation: Sonya Gzyl.
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