Interview with Fatima Rahimi

Luděk Jirka, Fatima Rahimi

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Interview with Fatima Rahimi



Born in 1992 in Herat (Afghanistan), she studied Transcultural Communication in 2010 – 2013.

Could you briefly tell us something about your journey from Herat do Šumperk?
My father was a Persian teacher and he has problems with the Taliban government. He was repeatedly sent to prison and we always had to pay money for his release. Then we had to leave Afghanistan for safety reasons. The journey was long and cruel. I don’t know exactly which way we took, but it seems logical to me that it was through republics of Central Asia, Russia, Ukraine and Slovakia. We moved overland, most of the time we walked, there were cases when we walked for three weeks, we often had nothing to eat, we slept in forests. Sometimes we also went by train or were driven in cars and trucks, but always it was essential not to be seen. For example, going by train, we were hidden in various places where there were pipes. At the end of 2000 we reached Cheb. We had no money to go on to Germany, so we decided to stay in the Czech Republic. Our plan was not to stay in the Czech Republic, we just did not have money to pay to the smugglers who had told us that we were in this country, but they wanted money for taking us to Germany, and we no longer had the money. We were in refugee camps for three and a half years – in Vyšné Lhoty, in Zastávka near Brno and in Zbýšov near Brno. Then we received permanent residence, and in 2004 we left the refugee camp and moved to Šumperk. Mayor Brož really helped us. In the refugee camp, our family had one room; the bathroom was shared by about 50 other people, so my parents were extremely happy that we could move to Šumperk. We could start living there in a four-room flat. Duvets were the only things we brought there. The local people helped us a lot. My dad worked first as a green handyman and now he works as a nurse. My mum worked in a bakery and now she works in Prague as a chef.

And why did you decide to study Transcultural Communication?
After finishing my secondary school studies, I applied to study at the Faculty of Humanities of Charles University, I also applied to study at the Faculty of Science of Palacký University in Olomouc (there I was attracted by regional studies) and I also wanted to study Transcultural Communication at the University of Hradec Králové. I was not admitted by Charles University because I was still struggling with the Czech language and the Scio tests were too difficult for me. I was successful in the entrance examinations both in case of regional studies and in case of transcultural communication. I preferred transcultural communication and the portfolio of its courses because I thought I could develop a little more when studying that field.

And how do you evaluate your decision retrospectively?
I do not regret that at all. I also met a bunch of perfect people with whom we did various activities. I still meet some of them because they are my really good friends.

What does Transcultural Communication mean to you?
In my opinion, it is about understanding of how the world works. I have actually learned how to live in today’s world. Nowadays, our world is much more open and much more complicated. You can travel, you can get to know a lot of things. Transcultural communication gives you opportunities to get information, and then not to look at people through your fingers. Studying will open your eyes in such a sense that you will get rid of prejudices or stereotypes and if you still have them, you will try to fight them. It was a good foundation and I would recommend this study field to almost everyone. Even to those who are not attracted by humanities and who are not studying them.

And did your studying help you to become oriented in international problems or conflicts?
Yes. In my opinion, studying at university is about your own activities and efforts. This definitely applies to transcultural communication. You must be active. I can remember the moment when doctor Zdeňka Sokolíčková came to teach us – we had a feeling that suddenly our studying atmosphere was completely different; she made us more active. I keep my good memories of Mrs. Sokolíčková. Thanks to her, I then decided to study at the Faculty of Humanities of Charles University. Mrs. Sokolíčková´s courses and the bibliography recommended by her were foundations for my further studies.

The next question refers to what was just mentioned:  Which of the teachers have left the biggest imprint on you?
The already mentioned doctor Sokolíčková, and also professor Tomáš Petráček. I loved his courses.

What did professor Petráček impress you specifically with?
He knows how to make you involved in discussions. He makes you think about things and he wants to know your opinions. He was decently provocative and he really cared about our opinions.

What made you study the European cultural and spiritual history at the Faculty of Humanities of Charles University
When you graduate in Transcultural Communication, you can then choose different fields to study, such as environmental studies, political science or media studies. I liked courses focused on culture and religions, and when I was thinking about my further university studies, European cultural and spiritual studies seemed ideal for me. That time I was also fascinated by particular teachers. During my Bachelor´s degree courses in Hradec I read texts written by authors who were then my teachers in my Master´s degree courses. I can mention professor Martin C. Putna, professor Zdeněk R. Nešpor, professor Milena Bártlová or professor Jiří Pešek.

And how did you find your job then?
For a long time I volunteered for the People in Need, for the Amnesty International or for the Multicultural Centre in Prague. And when Deník Referendum was looking for someone, I learnt about that through the Amnesty International and SOZE (the Association of Citizens Dealing with Emigrants). I contacted them, then I was invited to the interview and I was successful. My main job contract is with Deník Referendum, and I also work part-time for Radio Wave. I moderate the programme called Hergot!, it is a religiously focused programme. As we say – “an unorthodox view of spiritual matters which is presented in the world events context.”

What are your life goals?
My main life goal is being awarded a Pulitzer Prize (laugh). This is a joke, it is just a dream. Actually, I would very much like to visit Afghanistan and write a series of documentary reports on the situation in Afghanistan. I hope that I will succeed in doing this in the near future.

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Interview with Fatima Rahimi