My name is Ismail and I was born and raised in Algeria. While I was in Algeria I wanted to go outside and see the world, so I registered for a Master’s Degree in France and moved there. Later I found a job in a German start-up and moved to Berlin about 4 years ago. I work on a project called Open Bank Project. It is an open source API (application programming interface) and app store for banks that helps financial institutions innovate faster and collaborate with third parties. On the side, I am actively involved with MakeSense, it’s a global community, which helps social entrepreneurs solve their challenges. We are 20.000 SenseMakers in 100 cities.
Social Innovation is a very important topic for me. About a year ago, with few friends of mine, we started the “Maghreb Social Innovation Retreat”–where we take 10-15 people to the Algerian desert for a week without internet, phone, nothing, just the desert and them relaxing, discovering the magic of scenery, meeting the locals and re-connecting with themselves!
Did you always wanted to leave your country?
Difficult to answer! I always wanted to go and see the world and I was only 21 when I left Algeria.
The procedures to go to France when you are Algerian are so much easier: no hassle, everything is just straight forward, plus I knew the language and I was kind of lazy (laughing –ed.).
Where do you prefer to live France or Germany?
Absolutely, Germany! Actually, I’d go even further and say Berlin and not Germany.
Do you feel integrated?
Depends on what you mean by integration, I am always a bit cautious with this terminology…. but I definitely do feel myself a part of the society. I learn a lot from the German society, but I also bring a lot to it. I actually just got my first letter of copyright infringement, I feel like I’m properly integrated now (laughing-ed.).
How is your German?
Non-existent. I found a job in Berlin while I was still in France, so I never actually thought of coming and living in Germany, but then instantly I fell in love with this city and for now I live in this Expat bubble, where everybody speaks some sort of English…
What is it that you miss from home?
Lots of things! My family, my parents and friends… and then all those little things like the culture, the food, the smells, the way people react and communicate! All in all, it has been a great experience!
Is there anything that you still don’t like here?
Hmm…here is one thing, cold and the German winter. If you could change that and make Angela Merkel or some other politician work on this issue a bit harder, than Berlin would be a perfect place!