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We Belong

We Belong

By We Belong
Who belongs to Europe? The question is ancient, but the answer keeps changing.
Join Yasmine Ouirhrane, appointed expert by the European Union and the African Union, in this series of conversations with young women representing the diversity of Europe. She will travel and meet women who are breaking stereotypes, navigating multiple identities, and challenging the conventional wisdom of what it means to belong.
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#21 In Finland with Kamilla Sultanova: her journey from Uzbekistan to Europe
For the #21 episode of We Belong, we met the resilient and inspiring Kamilla Sultanova. Born in Uzbekistan, raised in Denmark and now living in Finland, Kamilla is an entrepreneur and powerful keynote speaker, running her own culturally responsive consulting company ConnectUz. Passionate about promoting tolerance in Europe, she hosts online and offline workshops on different topics from diversity and inclusion, to cultural onboarding and event facilitation. In conversation with Kamilla, we discussed her journey to Europe, the region of her roots and the current growing instability with the Taliban threat in Afghanistan. Finally, we reflected on how to navigate multiple identities and the importance of finding a mentor to help us grow.
38:59
August 18, 2021
#20 In Poland with Dr. Margaret Ohia-Nowak: Being a Black Woman in Poland
For the #20 episode of We Belong, we travel to Poland to meet Dr. Margaret Amaka Ohia-Nowak, a linguist, a human rights activist and a cross-cultural training facilitator. As a critical discourse analyst, her research focuses on the manifestation of racism against black people in language and discourse. Committed to contribute to a more inclusive society, she is president of “Word Idea”, a training company for promoting diversity, cross-cultural communication, combating racial discrimination, and the violation of human rights of people of African descent in Poland. In conversation with Margaret, we discussed the representation of Black Polish people, the importance of understanding gaslighting and recognizing minorities’ lived experiences in countries where they are constantly alienated.
36:03
July 14, 2021
#19 In France with Thérèse Sayarath: Singing for Freedom
For the #19 episode of We Belong, we take you to France to meet the singer, activist and artist Thérèse Sayarath. Through her songs, Thérèse wants to contribute to the construction of another image of the French "universality", one that includes all the people. Born in a Parisian suburb from Asian parents, she refuses to be put into a box: she sees herself as a rainbow. The encounter between the sun and the rain. Visible but uncatchable. In conversation with Thérèse, we remembered her early days, growing up in a multicultural neighborhood, but also the identity crisis she faced when she studied in a business school and finally how she found an harmony and a way to express herself through music.
42:46
June 7, 2021
#18 In the UK with Safaa Charif: Narrating Disability on TikTok
For the #18 episode of We Belong, we take you to the UK to meet the activist Safaa Nait-Charif, a disability activist, content creator and aspiring producer, with a huge passion for storytelling. Safaa has a keen interest in bringing to life multifaceted stories that challenge the mainstream narratives and stereotypes surrounding disability and Islam. During the first lockdown, Safaa explored new formats to share her daily life and break some stereotypes related to her multiple identities and her TikToks went viral. In conversation with Safaa, we discussed the importance of accessibility, how to sparkle educational conversations while using irony and how to better include people with disabilities and narrate their stories with authenticity.
30:41
May 10, 2021
#17 In Germany with Sara Mardini: Coming to Europe as a Syrian Refugee
For the #17 episode of We Belong, we take you to Germany to meet the activist Sara Mardini, a Syrian refugee, but most importantly an humanitarian activist, a swimmer and a human rights defender. In 2015 she was hailed as a hero along with her sister Yusra after saving 18 people from drowning on the hazardous journey from Turkey to the Greek islands. Back to Greece as a volunteer, she has been accused of people smuggling and she risks facing up to 25 years in prisons for having helped people. Far from giving up, Sara was listed in the TIME 100 Next List for her humanitarian work and she shared with us some details of their journey, from Syria to Berlin. Her story reflects the silent struggles that thousands of refugees face and helps us reflect on the future of Europe and its values.
47:06
April 19, 2021
#16 We Belong Turns One ! International Women’s Day Edition
For the #16 episode of We Belong, as we celebrate the first anniversary of We Belong and the International Women’s Day, we held a discussion between the cofounders: Jana Degrott and Sumaia Saiboub and our host Yasmine Ouirhrane. Jana Degrott is one of the youngest elected politicians in Luxembourg, while Sumaia Saiboub is the Head of Content at Colory, that narrates stories of second generation immigrant descents in Italy. Both respectively working on politics and on media, they shared common stories, professional and personal challenges they faced this past year, how We Belong impacted their journey, as well as hopes and ambitions for the future!
42:28
March 8, 2021
#15 In Luxembourg with Corinne Semedo: Miss Luxembourg advocating for Mental Health
For the #15 episode of We Belong, we are in Luxembourg to meet Corinne Semedo, a professional dancer, a social worker in psychiatry and the CEO of Heal Confidance. In 2013, she became the first Black woman to ever participate and win a title at Miss Luxembourg. Corinne unveils the discrimination she faced behind the scenes and how this award came with lots of struggles and pressure that impacted her mental health. In conversation with Corinne, we discussed how she started her career as a dancer, but also her passion for social work and how she combines both through her classes at Confidance. Key: https://freepsychotherapynetwork.com/
34:46
February 15, 2021
#14 In the Netherlands with Samya Hafsaoui: Disrupting the Entertainment Industry
For the #14 episode of We Belong, we traveled to the Netherlands to meet Samya Hafsaoui, a journalist, presenter and writer. As a journalist, she writes for Vogue and Glamor, among others, and she presented ‘De Taxi Terug‘, a web column in which she accompanied a table guest to their next destination and interviewed them. She also made the series Female Virals on YouTube. She is also the author of “36 questions (and lots of coffee)”, a book with which she hopes to break the taboos surrounding falling in love and relationships among Muslim women. She is currently writing the film readaptation of this romance. In conversation with Samya, we discussed the cultural biases existing in the entertainment industry and how she is disrupting them. Born from a Moroccan father and a Dutch mother, Samya reflects on what shaped her and deconstructs stereotypes around Dutch people and immigrant descents. Key: Tia Taylor Youtube Channel on Finance Literacy: https://www.youtube.com/user/tiataylormakeup
34:57
January 11, 2021
#13 In France with Inès Leonarduzzi: The Digital Ecologist
For the #13 episode of We Belong, we go to France to meet Inès Leonarduzzi, the CEO and Founder of Digital for the Planet, which aims to develop digital sustainability and inclusive economy through durable and low-carbon technology. She coined the term “digital ecology” and works along with researchers and scientific experts to bridge sustainability and digitalisation. Named by Forbes as one of the 92 women who are disrupting technology in France, Inès also organizes personal development masterclasses through her initiative ‘Preserve Experience’, available here: preserve-experience.com In conversation with Inès, we discussed her Algerian and Italian roots, the multiple identities sharing her, her childhood in Northern France and her ambition to foster ecology in the digital sector. Key: UPG Sustainability Leadership Program 2021 in USA (Deadline November 30): https://unitedpeople.global/initiatives/sl-apply/
40:05
November 15, 2020
#12 In the UK with Adelaide Damoah: Decolonizing Arts and Feminism
For the #12 episode of We Belong, we are back in the UK to meet Adelaide Damoah RWA FRSA, a British painter and performance artist of Ghanaian descent who uses her body as a “living paintbrush”, the starting point for much of her work. Through arts, she addresses feminism, colonialism, religion and spirituality. As a descendant of Ghanaian parents, Adelaide Damoah has always had a particular interest in colonial history and knew that eventually she would explore the relationship between Ghana and Britain in her work. In 2016, she traveled to Ghana looking for old photographs of her family  from the colonial era: it was at this time that she found a very powerful image of her maternal great grandmother which was taken in 1920, when Ghana was the British Gold Coast. In conversation with Adelaide, we discussed her relationship with her body and how she uses arts to discuss feminism, colonialism, racism and identities. Key: Rachel Cargle’s Ted Talk: “Coming to Terms with Racism’s Inertia: Ancestral Accountability”
39:24
October 18, 2020
#11 In Belgium with Sara Lou: the Bright Side of Molenbeek
For the #11 episode of We Belong, we traveled to Belgium to meet Sara Lou, a YouTuber and Digital Marketing Strategist. Along with her two sisters, she is part of the “Molem Sisters” collective from Molenbeek, which aims to share positive narratives from this Brussels municipality. In 2019, she did the cover of the song ‘Balance ton quoi’ by Belgian singer Angèle, echoing the #MeToo Movement, to denounce the Islamophobia experienced by veiled women, such as cyber-harassment or discrimination in hiring. The video quickly created a buzz, exceeding 800.000 views. Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xs-EkCW7Ik In conversation with Sara-Lou, we explored the different roles she covers as a full-time Mother, a part-time Entrepreneur and Youtuber. She spends 80% of her time in Molenbeek and she delivers trainings on digital marketing, available here: http://zakietsaralou.com/ Key: Book “The Art of Disruption: A Manifesto for Real Change”, by Magid Magid.
30:26
September 20, 2020
#10 In the UK with Fatima Zaman: a Next Gen Counter Extremist
For the #10 episode of We Belong, we traveled to the UK  to meet inspiring Fatima Zaman, peace activist and advocate at the Kofi Annan Foundation. After witnessing the London 7/7 Bombings, Fatima has dedicated her activism toward building peace, security and overcoming extreme violence in conflict. Having served as an Official to the UK Government, her work involved advising Government Ministers and the late 7th Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. In conversation with Fatima, we discussed her work to enhance and uphold human rights, her commitment to deliver justice and her achievements, including being named as the UK’s Asian Woman of Achievement and being invited to the Inaugural Class of Obama Scholars, at the behest of President Obama and Michelle Obama. Key: Obama Foundation Scholarships and Volunteering https://www.obama.org/get-involved/
42:36
August 2, 2020
#09 In Italy with Giada Zhang: being a CEO
For the #9 episode of We Belong, we traveled to Italy to meet Giada Zhang, a female CEO at the head of a family business called Mulan. At only 23 years old, Giada is a successful entrepreneur and she was recognised a Forbes 30 under 30. Her company is the first to distribute oriental food prepared in Italy to a large scale in supermarkets and restaurants. In conversation with Giada, she recalled her childhood in Italy, what it means to be an immigrant daughter, as her parents moved from China to Italy, and how she turned her diversity into a strength: today she is winning the heart of Italians through food and cultural exchange. We hope that her success at such a young age will inspire many more young women to dare leadership and entrepreneurship. Key: book ‘Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action’ by Simon Sinek
34:32
July 5, 2020
#08 In Germany with Rebecca Korang: the Rootless Artist
On the #8 episode of We Belong, we are in Germany with Rebecca Korang, a performing artist, dancer and choreographer based in Berlin. Together with theatre maker Grace Holme, she initiated a community dance theatre project called 'Utopia Now Theater'. Since 2019 Rebecca Korang is curating the art exhibition at African Food Festival Berlin, aiming to build a growing network among artists from Africa and the African Diaspora in Berlin and beyond. She is also working between Berlin and Accra, Ghana, for artistic research and a long term project that deals with plastic-recycling and creative exchange.     In conversation with Rebecca, she explained her constant quest for identity that reflects her performance art, she recalled her travel back to Ghana to find her roots and the difficulty in feeling German and being perceived as such as a black woman.    Key: book ‘The Disoriented’ by Amin Maalouf.
36:01
June 21, 2020
#07 In Sweden with Evin Incir - Fostering Solidarity at the European Parliament
For this new episode of We Belong, we travel to Sweden to meet Evin Incir, a newly elected Member of the European Parliament. Kurdish descent, she recalled her early years in Sweden, growing up in a suburb of the city of Gothenburg and engaging in politics at a very young age. Becoming an MEP at the 2019 European Elections was for Evin a dream that came true. She has since been serving on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.     In conversation with Evin, we discussed her career, the current challenges that the European Union faces in light with the pandemic crisis and the need for more solidarity in Europe.    Key: Schuman Traineeship at the European Parliament, Deadline June 30.
31:29
June 7, 2020
#06 In Belgium with Hanan Challouki - An Impact Builder
For the #6 episode of We Belong, we take you to Belgium to meet the mind behind a million visitors website, Hanan Challouki! She is the managing partner of the creative agency Allyens and the original founder of the online platform Mvslim.com. Focused on inclusive communication, she spends her time developing strategies and campaigns for companies like Brussels Airport, BNP Paribas and Unilever. She's also listed as one of the Forbes 30 under 30 for her innovative thinking. In conversation with Hanan, we recalled her childhood in Anvers and the whole journey of Mvslim.com, that started from a student idea and became so big that she decided to sell it a month ago in order to focus on her next steps!   Key of the day: Plural Plus Video Festival by UNAOC Deadline June 19
28:18
May 24, 2020
#05 In the UK with Gena-mour Barrett - From South London to working at Netflix UK
For the #5 episode of We Belong, we take you to the UK to meet Gena-mour Barrett, a journalist and Editorial Creative Manager at Netflix UK, where she curates the Netflix IX interview series. As a freelancer, she has bylines at Elle, The Guardian, Refinery 29 and BBC Newsbeat. She was listed as one of 2019’s 30 Under 30 for Media and Marketing in Europe by Forbes and she was a recipient of the 2018 Roxane Gay fellowship for a woman of colour writing fiction with Jack Jones Literary Arts.   In conversation with Gena-mour, we dived into her personal story, her childhood in South London, the lessons learnt and her passion for writing. We also discussed humour and satire on Media, representation and diversity on the entertainment industry and, of course, Europe and her views on Brexit!   Key: Netflix series “Dear White People”
39:18
May 10, 2020
#04 In France with Linh Lan Dao - Anti-Asian Racism and Media
For the #4 episode of We Belong, we are back to France to meet Linh Lan Dao, a French TV Journalist for Franceinfo télévision. She works at the fact-checking TV program “Vrai ou Fake” and she uses arts to explain the news on the Youtube channel “Draw my news”. Following the broadcast of a TV show by two French humorists Kev Adams and Gad Elmaleh, she denounced prejudice and racism targeting Asians in a video that made 2.5 million views. She is committed against anti-Asian racism and she has been particularly vocal since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, shading the light on anti-Asian discriminations, verifying news and tweeting with the hashtag #Imnotavirus. We discussed about her passion for journalism and drawing, the importance to giving a voice to Asian communities living in France and representation on Media.  Keys: Harvard free online courses (https://online-learning.harvard.edu/catalog/free), British Council Free Online Courses (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses) and the Atlas Corps Fellowship Deadline May 1st (https://atlascorps.org/apply-united-states/).
30:44
April 26, 2020
#03 In Spain with Miriam Hatibi - Between outrage and activism
For the #03 episode of We Belong, we take you to Spain to meet Míriam Hatibi, an activist against racism and islamophobia and the author of “Look Me in the Eye” and “Leila”. Miriam also contributes to the opinion sections of different publications, where she promotes a visible media presence for people of diverse origins, particularly women.  Following the August 2017 terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, Míriam vehemently condemned terrorism at a demonstration in Plaça de Catalunya that brought together hundreds of Muslims. Since December 2014, she has been the spokesperson for the Ibn Battuta Foundation (FIB), an entity created to promote socio-cultural exchange. In conversation with Miriam, we recalled her reaction to the terrorist attacks and how she works to deconstruct islamophobia and stereotypes surrounding muslim people. We also spoke about her ambition to create new spaces for immigrant daughters to shine in society.  Keys: Code Academy (code academy.dev), One Young World Scholarships (https://www.oneyoungworld.com/scholarships).
34:55
April 12, 2020
#02 In Italy with Bellamy - An Afroitalian Soul
For the #2 episode of We Belong, we recorded a special interview on remote where we take you to Milan, in Italy, the most affected country by the coronavirus. We discussed with Bellamy, a model, a blogger and an activist. Her word: Multifaceted. Bellamy was born and raised in Italy in a half Ugandan and half Sudanese family. Her interests range from fashion and skin care to international politics. She becomes increasingly passionate about socio-cultural issues with a focus on the experience of the black body in different countries and while doing some research on this matter she feels called to take action in her own country. With her friend Grazia, she created Afroitalian Souls: a web magazine that is now a digital platform that promotes the excellence of the African diaspora in Italy while simultaneously bringing awareness to the endless social and racial issue they face. In conversation with Bellamy, we discussed the impact of Covid-19 in Italy, the structural and cultural forms of violence that black Italians face and how she uses sarcasm and style to amplify the voice of Afroitalians on social media. Find her on Youtube, Instagram and Twitter @AfroitalianSoul, @Darkchocolatecreature, @BellamyAwot Keys: Yoga sessions with @bodymind_focus , Netflix series: Self Made , Learning platform: MOOC.org
50:13
March 30, 2020
#01 In France with Inès Seddiki - Turning stigma into strength
For the #1 episode of We Belong Podcast we traveled to France to meet Ines Seddiki, founder of Ghett’up. She is a French-Moroccan young activist and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) professional living in the banlieues of Paris. In the 80s, her parents immigrated to France to pursue ideals of liberty and equality. From a very young age, Inés faced injustice and this motivated her to take action. Since 2016, her NGO Ghett’up has impacted more than 2000 young people in the banlieues of Paris. In the conversation with Ines, we discussed the importance of owning our story and identities, reflected on what it means to grow up in a banlieue and how to turn stigma into strength.
36:58
March 15, 2020