Monday, 20 June 2016

The EU Referendum - Freedom, choice, cultural diversity: Why I would vote IN if I had a vote

Nearly twenty years ago I arrived in England, having left Germany with a single suitcase and a determination to make a living here. I was in the very lucky position to do so out of my own free will and for no other reason than a love for the English language, literature, humour and art. I found work within a few days and started paying taxes almost immediately, worked hard and tried to improve my language skills. I quickly understood the brilliance and fragility of the NHS system and have always tried not too much of a strain on it.

In return Britain has given me fulfilling jobs, several scholarships and fellowships, and a wealth of opportunities, both on a personal and professional level. I now teach British culture and heritage and consider myself an advocate for this country. In short, I found happiness in the place I chose as a home. I still love Britain's quirkiness, cultural diversity, the melancholy beauty of its countryside, and it makes me immensely proud to be able to tell my daughter that Richard 'Dickie' Attenborough hugged and kissed her at my graduation. This didn't make me feel British - I see myself as a citizen of Europe - but I felt I had become part of Britain.

The impending EU referendum fills me with fear and sadness. I come from a country that was divided when I was young and the crossing of the German/German border (if you were lucky enough to be able to cross it) meant being questioned, sometimes strip-searched, families being split up for hours, cars being taken apart, luggage being searched and confiscated and passports being taken away, so I am naturally allergic to borders. The EU meant I could travel freely and even choose a new home, and I and many of my friends revelled in this freedom.

A result in favour of "Brexit" will affect me personally and it will mean I have to rethink many aspects of my life, but this is about much more than my feelings and circumstances. If Britain leaves the EU my 9-year old daughter (so far with only a British passport) and all other young British people will not have that same freedom of movement I so enjoyed and that enabled me to experiment, learn and flourish. Apart from the unpredictable economic implications for Britain and the whole of the EU I fear we will all lose that freedom of choice, the cultural richness and the opportunities I was so lucky to enjoy. And as for the European Convention on Human Rights ...

Because I hold a German passport I will not be able to vote on Thursday 23 June, but if you can then please please please vote for Britain to remain in the European Union. 

Thank you.