½ “I was never taught to share my feelings. I am an only child so whenever I would go through something I would try to talk to my parents about it. However, I never felt taken seriously by them. At the age of fifteen I got into a serious depression. For almost four years I would not leave my room. In the beginning of my depression my mother took me to see a psychologist. We had a one-hour conversation and when I was done my mum came to pick me up. It felt really good to talk to someone. The psychologist said to my mother that from now on it was important that she would speak to me about feelings and emotions. My mother interpreted it as criticism and an invasion of our family’s privacy. She never took me back to see the psychologist..’‘

(Tunis, Tunisia)

2/2 “My parents had four children and I am one of them. When I was 8, my father decided that we should move to Lebanon in order to reconnect with our Lebanese heritage. When I was 18, I met a boy and we started to go out. It was the same year that my parents decided to move back to Venezuela. My mother said: ‘’Lulu, this guy seems very nice. Why don’t you marry him and stay here in Lebanon?’’ I told her that I really liked him but that I still wanted to study. She said that I could always go back to university once I got married. I thought about it and I decided to marry him. I really liked him. He was an architect, a gentleman and most of all he really respected my freedom. After one year our son was born. I remember the years that followed
as a period filled with parties, having a lot of fun and living life to the fullest. Seven years after my first son was born I got pregnant again. After I gave birth to our second son, I received a letter from my mother and it said: ‘’Have you forgotten about university?’’ She wrote: ‘’Even though you have a husband, you need to be able to take care of yourself. Make sure to have a diploma in your hands.’’ That is when I decided to go to art school and I became a painter.”
(Beirut, Lebanon)

8

8

½ “I am going to tell you a little love story. Like many Lebanese my father was born in South America. However, every summer my father would go back to Lebanon to visit his family. One time during his visit, he was walking through the neighborhood and he saw a girl on a bike. He instantly fell in love without approaching her. He asked the neighbors about her. It turned out she was a Lebanese girl who lived in Egypt. My father could not forget about her and he decided to travel to Egypt to find her. When he arrived he asked every Lebanese person he met if they knew her. Eventually he found her and asked her dad if he could marry his daughter. Her father was a very liberal man and said that it was up to his daughter to decide for herself. She agreed to go out with him for one month so she could make a well informed decision. After one month of dating she agreed to get married and move with him to Venezuela..’‘ 
(Beirut, Lebanon)

‘’Julia studies medicine in Warsaw and I study music composition here at the conservatory. We have been doing this long-distance-kind-of-relationship for a while now. A while ago, I needed to come up with a new concept for an opera. I couldn’t come up with anything when Julia all of a sudden said: ‘’maybe you should do your next piece about the Albatross birds.’’ I had never heard of this bird but she explained that the Albatross is a very strong an independent bird. It is fine with traveling across the world all by its self. However sooner or later it always returns to their significant other just like Julia and I. The Albatross bird teaches us that we need to find our own paradise first before we can truly commit to someone else. The opera will premier in March and it is inspired by the Albatross, by our story and by Julia.’’

“Last year my wife survived cancer. Unfortunately she still battles with her health. Our son gave us this trip from the UK to Amsterdam. We try to enjoy each other’s company as much as possible because we learned that life is really fragile.
All that walking is hard for her. However she is a tough cookie you know.. She is a fighter. It is the Scottish in her.