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Rachida Zoubid, Sidi Allal Bahraoui, Morocco

Name: Rachida Zoubid
Lives in: Sidi Allal Bahraoui, Morocco
Period in Germany: March to September 1984 (Aachen), September 1984 to September 1989 (Germersheim) and September 1989 to 1999 (Speyer)
Research institutes: RWTH Aachen University; Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Department for Translation, Linguistics and Cultural Studies (FTSK); German University of Administrative Sciences, Speyer
Job: Professor in the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences at Mohammed V University Agdal in Rabat

My main objective during my time in Germany was to study and get a doctorate. Once I had passed the German language exam at RWTH Aachen University, I began to study Intercultural German Studies, Translation Studies and Cultural Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University (JGU) in Mainz. My mother tongue is Arabic, but I also speak French and English, so as well as studying, I worked as an interpreter during international fairs and also, during the vacations, as a data processor. I was very busy, but I was able to complete my studies in eight semesters. In summer 1989, the Landau Federal State Court accredited me as a sworn translator and interpreter.

‘Speyer was the beginning of a whole new era for me’

I passed the admission test at the German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer (Verwaltungshochschule Speyer) and then we moved to Speyer – my dream city. It was the beginning of a whole new era for me and the most important part of my life, personally, professionally, individually and socially.

I was the first Moroccan woman to do a Masters in Law and Business at the German University of Administrative Sciences alongside mostly German students, and my university friend from China and I were the first applied language studies graduates to do so. Immediately after my Masters in Speyer, I returned to Mainz to register for a PhD in Arabic Studies and the History of the Middle East.

1994 was the high point of my political commitment in Germany. In that year, EU and non-EU citizens living in the Rhineland-Palatinate were allowed for the first time in the state’s history to become involved in local politics through elections for members of the Foreigners’ Representative Boards. I’d often experienced discrimination when I was getting my residence permit extended, so I wanted to do something for disadvantaged migrant groups such as asylum-seekers, refugees and foreign students and campaign for their rights with the German authorities. I thought it was high time we played our part in local politics.

‘Since returning to Morocco, I’ve been able to use virtually all the professional and civil society experience I gained in Germany’

In my homecountry I’ve been able to use almost all the professional and civil society experience and values I gained in Germany with the exception of my political involvement. I have a tenured Chair at the German Studies department in the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences at Mohammed V University Agdal in Rabat.

At the moment, I’m not teaching because of a legal dispute with the university, so I’m volunteering, teaching legal translation to final-year students of German, Arabic and French in the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences at my old university in Casablanca.

‘Men are given preferential treatment in professional terms’

In general, women who have trained as academics in Germany are much less readily accepted than men in the same position, because men are given preferential treatment in professional terms: culturally, men’s role is to provide for the family. Consequently, they receive easier access to employment. My husband and I returned to Morocco from Germany at the same time. It only took him a few months to find a job, but I didn’t find one for five years and suffered all kinds of discrimination. But that has made me stronger and more confident – and I’m not so easily intimidated now.

I’m currently setting up an international women’s network to help women suffering disadvantage and discrimination to assert their rights.

‘My time in Germany has changed every aspect of my life’

I’ve learned to think and act democratically, to share and be unstinting in helping others, never to give in, and always to look to the future. I’ve learned that the sun always follows the rain. These are the kind of values that only a country like Germany can teach you.

What I admire about the Germans is their sense of time and their punctuality. They are famous worldwide for their hard work, their precision, their sense of order, their logical thinking, and their concern for their fellow man or woman. I’m very punctual, and even Germans living in Morocco sometimes tell me I’m ‘too German’.

‘I adore beef goulash with noodles’

The things I love about Germany are the landscape with all its colours, the evergreens, and all those parks and playgrounds – they even make adults want to play. I love summer and summertime parties, but the winter has its charms, too. I adore beef goulash with noodles, all those different types of bread – delicious! – and cheesecake and plum cake.

What I like less is the German legislation on aliens, as it is often discriminatory. It doesn’t differentiate between national groups. In my view, any legislation that splits up families – something that has often happened – and tries to deport schoolchildren because their parents have been refused the right to stay in Germany breaches human rights.

Rachida Zoubid on the Alumniportal Deutschland

One of the things I’m interested in is cooperation between German and Moroccan schools, so that we can teach young people in both countries about religious and cultural tolerance and global solidarity. If the two get to know each other well, then prejudices will be reduced and mutual respect will be fostered. You’re not born with tolerance: you learn tolerance through education and through meeting and understanding other people. Intercultural openness is essential to a peaceful world that people want to live in. That’s why it’s important to experience diversity and interculturality.

Profile of Rachida Zoubid in the Community

July 2013

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