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First workshop with refugees

November 16th we had our first workshop with refugees.

What is your idea of home?


To have your own house.

Being with your family.

To have a garden.

Looking into familiar eyes.

Sitting in the shade on a warm day talking to friends.

A safe place to completely relax.

A future dream, to build a house for my new family

- maybe in Norway?


In our first workshop for the refugees in the introductory program at Skullerud adult learning centre, the refugees drew and spoke of their idea of "home". Some longed for the house, the family, the friends, the nature and the space they had in Eritrea. Some dreamt of new possibilities and what a new house would look and feel like in Norway.

We also had the gift of listening to the first member of our First Peace Company, Saleh Mahfoud, play soothing and gentle guitar and sing in duet with a Syrian female friend. He also read the poem underneath by the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish in arabic. The Palestinian refugees in the workshop especially appreciated this, and they were the ones in the group who most wholeheartedly spoke of their love for their new home city of Oslo. "Here I can feel free", one Palestinian participant said.

If I were another


If I were another on the road, I would not have looked
back, I would have said what one traveler said
to another: Stranger! awaken
the guitar more! Delay our tomorrow so our road
may extend and space may widen for us, and we may get rescued
from our story together: you are so much yourself ... and I am
so much other than myself right here before you!


If I were another I would have belonged to the road,
neither you nor I would return. Awaken the guitar
and we might sense the unknown and the route that tempts
the traveler to test gravity. I am only
my steps, and you are both my compass and my chasm.

If I were another on the road, I would have
hidden my emotions in the suitcase, so my poem
would be of water, diaphanous, white,
abstract, and lightweight ... stronger than memory,
and weaker than dewdrops, and I would have said:
My identity is this expanse!


If I were another on the road, I would have said
to the guitar: Teach me an extra string!
Because the house is farther, and the road to it prettier—
that's what my new song would say. Whenever
the road lengthens the meaning renews, and I become two
on this road: I ... and another!

- Mahmoud Darwish

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