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From Baghdad to Brussels: a long journey to work at the House of European History

Visitors to the House of European History are welcomed by a very unique, international expo crew. Collectively the crew contains 34 nationalities and speaks 27 different languages (with one member speaking an incredible seven languages)! Read the life journey of the newest crew member Abbas...

I was born and grew up in Baghdad, Iraq, where I studied English and arts subjects at college. In 2011 I got a job as a translator for the US Military. In July of that year, I moved to Ankara, Turkey where I worked for a company on translations and visa applications. Over a five-year period, I applied for asylum in Turkey, but the application kept being frozen. In the end, I moved to Belgium in 2016 where I attained permanent residency status and began looking for work.

Honestly, I was looking for any type of job where the main working language was English! I started a beginner’s French course with Centre Public d'Action Sociale (CPAS), and part of the course involved going to the Parlamentarium as a group. I heard English being spoken with foreign visitors and thought that maybe I could work there. I mentioned it to our teacher Élodie, who enquired at the reception desk and helped me get an email address for the floorstaff agency.

I applied straightaway, sending my application, CV, and 15 letters of recommendation from the US Army. I had a couple of interviews, and now work as a crew-member at the House of European History.

I really recommend visiting the museum, particularly to non-Europeans, who will discover many things that they never learnt at school. For example, the imagery in the section “Europe in Ruins” on the third floor really strikes me. On the one hand, there is the death, destruction and starvation of citizens, whilst on the other hand, dictators such as Stalin and Hitler seem to act with impunity.

So I am very happy to start what I hope is a long-term career in the museum sector in Brussels. I just wish my family would arrive soon — I have two daughter Retaj and Layla — and I have not seen them since November 2016.