This month we welcome to Akademie Schloss Solitude the three cultural journalists who have been invited for a five-month fellowship – Yania Suárez Calleyro (Havana/Cuba), Komi Antoine Feda (Lomé/Togo), and Rasha Hilwi (Jerusalem).
The special fellowship program is co-funded by the Carl-Zeiss Foundation and supports young, independent cultural journalists who contribute with their work to the constitution of a critical society in developing countries. During their fellowship, the journalists will share their content in different formats on Schlosspost and other media platforms in English as well as in their mother-tongues – French, Spanish, and Arabic. Read their short self-introductions to get an insight into their topics and ideas.
Tranquility in a Multicultural Community
»When I came to Stuttgart, I didn’t even have the vaguest idea of what the real conditions of the writing residency would be like. Thus, it was with delight that I arrived at Akademie Schloss Solitude. The material working conditions are exemplary. I’m used to practicing in a noisy suburb of Lomé with a strong human presence. So, to have an office with such tranquillity to work on my project is unthinkable. Incredible. Writing, reading; reading again and again, write with the possibility to engage in discourse about it during the five months in this castle in the middle of a forest, it is something out of a dream.
Akademie Schloss Solitude welcomes researchers of diverse countries without distinction of skin color nor religion every month. This coeducation is not only an advantage concerning exchanges and experiences for us, but is a multicultural community with Americans, Jews, Syrians, Palestinians, Europeans, Latin Americans, and Africans. It is the setback with the obscurantist’s violence which threatens the world peace, it is also the vision of future.
Finally, for somebody like me who has forgotten his German language and whose English is devoured by rust, being in Solitude gives me a chance to renew these as working languages.«
Cultural Journalist as a Storyteller
»When I started to work as a journalist, while I was still studying sociology, anthropology, and in the program of leadership and development of educational systems at Haifa University, I wrote about different topics – including social issues, political issues, and youth life – through different Palestinian media platforms in Israel. In 2007, I received an invitation from »Ashams« radio station in Nazareth to suggest an idea for a weekly radio show. I went to them with an idea for a Palestinian/Arab cultural and art radio show: a show which would talk about the Palestinian cultural arts scene, while also introducing various cultural topics from the Arab World to the Palestinian listeners.
From the beginning of the radio show I knew that I want to be a cultural journalist, to devote my life to discussing Palestinian/Arab cultural arts. This decision was due to the fact of my being a part of the Arab identity and world – in particular being a Palestinian woman in Israel and its specific social and political context. At the same time, on the other hand, I want to devote my life to talking about culture and art, especially about the wide meaning of culture through people’s stories, as I believe that an effective cultural journalist is also a story teller.
Through my residency in Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, I want to write about Arabic Art and Culture in Germany and Europe. In addition to covering specific events, I would like to talk more about the wide meaning of culture: people’s lives and stories, and how they shape the culture and art present now, especially within the current political situation in the world. In addition to that, I want to write and research through people, how German and European culture has affected and is affecting Arabic culture across different generations. I also want to tell the stories of my personal experiences during my stay in Solitude.«
Through the Iron Curtain in the Internet Age
»Back in the times when the Iron Curtain was standing and strong, stretching from the USSR to a little tropical island named Cuba, the only option available for those who publicly dissented against the government was to go into exile. Today the world has changed and the Cuban government is adapting itself (even if essentially remaining the same) to the imperatives of »The Internet Age« and open windows. We still have very little Internet access in our country, but the seed is there.
Today, those who dissent, and still decide not to abandon the island, can inhabit cyberspace in the search of a parallel, free, and future Cuba. To work as a journalist for independent digital medias has been my way to exercise my freedom of expression and to connect with other Cubans who hope.«