Ahmad Elsheikh

Produced by: Sharq.Org
Part of the Curated Collection: Stories of Belonging,
Original Interview Length:
Interview Location: Germany
Production Team:
Available Collateral:

Ahmad Elsheikh is 41 years old and lives in Germany. This is a translation of the transcript of his recorded story:

"I am Ahmad Khader Al-Sheikh. I am a Syrian artist who has been in Germany for six and a half years. In Syria, I studied English literature and acting, and then went on a scholarship to study contemporary film criticism. I took TOEFL, an American test of English, at Washington University.

In Syria between 2002 and 2013, I worked on more than 50 Syrian drama series. Between 2010-2011, I worked on programs for Turkish-Arab television and also worked as an event organizer and presenter for literary, cultural and artistic events in Beirut. Almost six months later, I got my visa to go to Europe.

In Germany, I was lucky to have a good relationship with my lawyer and personal manager, a Lebanese-based lawyer who has lived in Europe for almost 50 years. He is like a father figure to me. He sent me the invitation and was my guardian. We are still communicating and have a good relationship. He helped me through his relationship with one of his clients, the director of a rural school, to find work as a social educational theatre guide and a junior representative trainer. He secured my employment contract and arranged my residency papers. I came here on a temporary tourist residency of three and a half months and converted this to a work visa. I am thankful to him for that. He paved the way for my arrival, which was not an easy road as a legitimate immigrant.

The issue of nostalgia for Damascus continues to preoccupy my mind and I think about the peaceful town of my ancestors or my home town of Tartus in my beloved country, Syria.

In fact, one of the most important motives for my travel is the desire to continue working on the project of making connections between civilizations and cultures in art, theatre, and all kinds of aesthetic education to create beautiful and positive knowledge. I want to educate myself and to know myself first, and then know about the surrounding society and live in an intellectual culture life with others. This is somehow based on the unity of existence that is the axis of great Sufi, my culture since birth, the love of others.

The first stop on the German tour was at a rural Rudolf Steiner school in West Germany in the city of Paderborn in the state of North Rhine. There were German students aged between 13 and 15 who treated me as a father, and called me "Baba Akhmed" because the word “Ahmed” was difficult for them to pronounce. I laughed at this name "Akhmed" but I was glad to hear it from my children's mouths. I call them “my children” out of love as I did not see them as students and myself as a teacher. I like the principle of big brother in the educational process to give love to the students and receive love from them.

So I still see the real perspective of the educational process. I worked for a year at the private rural Rudolf Steiner school, a community isolated from ordinary German society. It is on top of a mountain and has poor mobile coverage. Being close to nature is very important  and there are smorthals, carpenters, a huge area of agricultural land, and a private market. There is a special kitchen that serves healthy food, mostly vegetarian, and runs cheese making workshops, for example. This  beautiful experience was like a dream. I felt like I was in a Harry Potter film but the Syrian version because my children were really dressed like Harry Potter in gowns.

We worked on very important German texts, and other international experiences. I worked with them on a 3-hour German musical called "Thieves" by Friedrich Scheler and on choreography and the set with the construction of a movable set. It was an important show.

In brief, during this experience, the children became my family and their families became my relatives. It was really a beautiful dream. It started in 2014 and now six years later I am still in this country. It was the first time in my life that everything made an impression and had charm.

The experience of the rural school was the beginning of deepening my knowledge of the connection between civilizations and cultures with art. Currently, I am a family adviser and expert assisting university students in the Berlin Senate.

In a very short summary, my German journey allowed me to develop, learn and find new ground for following up the work that I had started in my country, Syria.

I am a Syrian artist from Germany called Ahmad Elhaikh and this is my story."