My Languages

My Languages

Interviews with multilingual people from Graz

Prior to the exhibition Sprachenlandschaft Graz. Eine Stadt spricht 150 Sprachen, treffpunkt sprachen – Plurilingualism Research Unit held interviews with multilingual people from Graz, in cooperation with ORF Styria. The interviews were broadcasted through Radio Steiermark and presented at the exhibition. In the interviews, people talk about how and why they came to Graz, about their lives in Graz, about their languages, and tell us what they like about Graz and Styria. In addition, each interview features one of many languages used in Graz.

Boogy / Mongolian

Bolortsetseg Baljinnyam, nicknamed Boogy by her friends, is studying law in Graz. She is very ambitious and in her sixth semester. Her next goal is to graduate from her degree in Graz. Studying in a foreign language is not easy because it is more time-consuming to learn in a language different from one’s first language. Therefore, Boogy has little time to spare, which she spends reading, dancing, and visiting cultural events in Graz. She wants to work in the field of human rights at the United Nations Organization in Vienna or in Mongolia, where she can put her knowledge and experience into practice. Boogy received a One World Scholarship to study in Austria. She already studied German philology in Mongolia. Due to previous contacts between the former German Democratic Republic and Mongolia, the German language and culture is well known there. After finishing her studies in Mongolia, she searched for an au pair job in Austria and found a family to live with in Lannach. She then applied at the University of Graz because she prefers Graz over Vienna and Salzburg. Boogy enjoys that Graz combines the best parts of both city and rural life. She says, Graz feels like home to her.

Pamir / Konkani, Hindi, Marathi

His name is Pramodchandra Harvey, but his friends call him Pamir because they can never remember the name Pramochandra. Pamir has been living in Austria for 18 years. He was born in Bombay, India, and grew up speaking four languages: Konkani, Hindi, Marathi, and English, with Konkani being an endangered language. Pamir works as a botanist and takes care of the pollen alert service in Styria. He is an intercultural speaker at the Afro-Asian Institute Graz and responsible for speakers of southern countries that visit schools and youth groups to talk about countries, cultures, and religion, which fosters an intercultural dialogue. His hobbies are hiking, meditating, visiting the opera, and cooking – particularly Styrian cuisine.

Takeshi / Japanese

Takeshi Furuya was born 1978 in Japan. Before devoting himself to the arts, he studied human science and art history in Tokyo. In 2007 he moved to Berlin where he met his wife, whose hometown was Graz. They moved to Graz together in 2010 and still live here with their son. Takeshi is an artist and photographer (however, he is not related to the photographer Seiji Furuya who is also well-known and lives here). His next project will take place in the St. Andrä church in Graz. His hobbies are music (he plays the drums), playing with his toddler son, and enjoying nature.

Viola / Dutch

Viola Bongers was born in Den Haag, Netherlands, and is 43 years old. She studied cultural administration and has lived in Austria since 1994. Viola has been working at the Botanical Gardens at the University of Graz since 1997. She is married and has two kids. Her hobbies are skiing and hiking.

Anne / French

Anne Faucheret was born 1981 in France. She is an art critic and curator. At the moment, Anne manages the cultural programme for the Steirischer Herbst festival in Graz. In her spare time, she likes to play the piano with her little son on her lap and read science fiction novels, which are usually unputdownable. She enjoys jogging alongside the river Mur and drinking Aperol spritzer in the evenings. Anne also likes to cook Styrian food but doesn’t like to have escargot or frogs’ legs for dinner.

Mejra / Croatian

Mejra Weiss war born 1967 in Pula, Croatia. 20 years ago, she left her hometown Rovinj due to a state of war, and also to get to know the big wide world. She intended to stay away from home only for a short time but then fell in love. Now she lives with her husband and two sons in Graz. She enjoys going on hikes and, during the winter, she likes to go skiing in Austria because you cannot ski in Croatia. When she returns to Croatia to vacation, Mejra enjoys all kinds of water sports such as diving, snorkeling, and swimming. In her free time, she likes to read and go to the movies. At home she cooks all kinds of dishes, but her favourites are sweet dishes such as Palatschinken (Austrian crepes).

Salah / Arabic

Salah Algader was born 1953 in Kirkuk, Iraq. He is an Austrian citizen. At first, Salah Algader worked as a medical technologist. Then, he studied interpreting and became a teacher of German. Since 1988 he has been working as an interpreter for many associations and institutions such as Zebra, Caritas, ISOP, and Omega. In fact, he is one of the founders of Omega. Since 2004 he has been the project leader of the Interkulturelle Gesundheitsassistenz für MigrantInnen, where he coordinates the interpreting service at the LKH Graz and interprets himself. In addition, he has been a lecturer at the University of Graz since 2008.

Susanna / Finnish

Susanna Ahvonen was born in Helsinki, Finland, and has studied both there as well as here in Graz (architecture, mathematics and art history). Her family has lived in Canada, Sweden and Austria and Susanna has attended school in all those countries. She works as an architect and has held the position of general secretary of the Österreich-Finnische Gesellschaft in Graz since 2003. She deals with textile design and interior design of designers from Finland. Some of Susanna’s designs are: the interior design of the LKH Graz maternity ward, the Künstleratelier of ‘Rondo’ Land Steiermark, the Bildungshaus Retzhof, and the pre-school at Ghegagasse in Graz.

Götz / Swedish

Götz Pochat has held the position as Professor at the Department of Art History at the University of Graz for many years. He is very dedicated to the cultural life in Styria. At home, he speaks Swedish and German.

Hong-Ling / Chinese

Hong-Ling Yang came to Graz from China and has been living here for about 10 years. She teaches Chinese at the University of Graz. To Hong-Ling, her students’ success is a kind of recognition and validation of her work.

Hong-Ling is very active, she likes to sing, dance, and play table tennis. She even learned to ski. It is important to her to honor her Chinese heritage here in Austria as well – for her own as well as her daughter’s sake. Therefore, at home, Hong-Ling only speaks Chinese with her daughter and teaches her to read and write in Chinese characters.

Sara / Dari

Sara Kondert was born in Afghanistan and has been living in Graz since 1998. She is married and has a 3-year-old daughter. Sara is a very active person and doesn’t like to be lazy. Her professional life reflects this attitude: besides studying law, Sara assists people as an interpreter for Dari and Pashto at court hearings and interrogations. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, going shopping, dancing, and singing.

Hanna / Amharic, Tigrinya

Hanna Tesfaye came as a 15-year-old unaccompanied girl from Ethiopia to Austria. She was adopted by an Austrian family and has been living in Austria for more than 10 years.

Hannah is a trained geriatric nurse. Her big goal, however, is to study sociology. To achieve this, she is currently studying for the college entrance exam. In her spare time, she enjoys sports (running, fitness center, climbing, hiking), she likes to sing, but only when cooking, and she likes to read (in German and in English). In particular, Hannah misses the coffee ceremonies in Ethiopia, which last about three hours.

Magdaline / Swahili, Luo

Magdaline Okumu is from Kenya and has been living in Graz since 2008. She studies transcultural communication (interpreting and translating) at the University of Graz. In her spare time, Maggy likes to meet her friends, she likes sports (running, volleyball) and to dance Latino. In life, respect is very important to her. Just as she respects other people, she wants to be respected. Her favorite quote is: "Ignorance is the worst thief, it steals minds".

Sulichan / Chechen

Sulichan Asueva has been living in Graz with her husband since 2003, her 4 children and her sister who is still a minor. She works as an integration assistant at Caritas and occasionally works as an interpreter for various organizations. In the future, she will also hold AMS consultations in Chechen. Sulichan began studying civil engineering at home, but then had to flee because of the war in Chechnya. She dreams of studying in Austria. In her spare time, Sulichan writes a book about women in the war.