© Claudia Engl / Jerry Kwarteng

ALM: The aim of this interview is to focus on Afro-German actors and theire experiences. As far as I know, you were born in Hamburg, but your biological parents are from Ghana. Do you feel more German or African and why?

JK: This is not an easy question. First, I feel like I am from Hamburg. This is the city I was born in. As well the most important thing about Hamburg is, that the people accept you as you are.You are seen as a German no matter wherever your roots lie. In my case, I grew up in a German family and not with my Ghanaian parents. So, I feel more German than Ghananian. But, with the years I developed a strong interest in Ghana . It started with interests in Ghanaian food. When I was teenager, I started having contact with my siblings living in Ghana;that also increased my interest. Getting to know them better and getting to know what is important to them. Even though, I have not been to Ghana yet, it is on my wishlist. But Germany is my home and I work hard in the public eye to show that we Afro-Germans are part of Germany too. If you look in the media, people do not know much about Afro-Germans. They do not see us as Germans in the media. We are always foreigner . That is why I work very hard to establish a new definition of the word “German”. I want a definition which includes us and not a definition that only fixates on the colour of our skin. It is getting better in the media, but it is still a long way to go. I believe that the people in Germany, are much more understanding and have accepted that fact long ago. Of course, you have some people who cannot get their head around that fact, but well…. like I said. It is a long way.

ALM: How close are to Ghana?

JK: Well, honestly, I am not that close yet. But I would love to be much closer to Ghana.  Certainly, my family resides in Ghana and they are very important to me, but I have not had the opportunity to explore the country yet. I am looking forward to that experience and how it will impact me.

ALM: How did you become an actor? What was the reason why you wanted to become an actor

JK: I always wanted to become an actor since I was a young boy. I loved movies and TV shows. Stuff like Robin Hood, The A-Team, MacGyver, The Intouchables. I loved the gangster movies but the ones, in which the gangsters were that smart that they got away with everything. You know? The ones who were that charming that no one saw the “bad guy” in them. Or the old James Bond movies. I wanted to do the same. Getting away with stuff because I was that charming. Later, I played a bit in our school theatre and when I was on stage, I could feel the energy of the audience. This was when I knew I like that feeling. I wanted to entertain people. This feeling stuck in me ever since. I still love to get up every day and go to a set and work. I really love my job and I could not imagine doing anything else.

ALM: Is it difficult to be a black actor in Germany? If yes, why?

JK: Yes. It is difficult. But first, let me say it is difficult to be a working actor. Period. If you want to act and get paid for it, then you need to follow the rules of the business. And the business does not have opportunities for us all. But, in my opinion it is more difficult for “POC” actors since we are not seen as Germans. So, we do not get invited to castings. We only get invited if the character we audition for is written for a black person. Most of the time it is an African and very often a refugee. All the black persons that have lived in Germany over the history are never mentioned. In the industry they do not see “POC” as “normal” people. They believe they need to explain to the audience why this particular character is in the story and why they can speak German. Actors who do not look “typically” German, are often asked to speak with an accent while acting. So, I believe what is missing, is that stories which are told from a “POC” perspective. I think, the German school system is also a problem. Black-German history is not taught in schools; therefore, they do not know anything about black Germans. Therefore, the roles that we get offered are very limited and, in my opinion, more than for any other actors. But it is getting better since the importance of international stories are more visible than before. By that, I mean that the world is growing “smaller”. We watch a lot of American, French, Swedish, Scandinavian movies and if the German movies want to continue to matter in that world, they need to show different perspectives in their stories, and this will need to include Afro-Germans. Because I do not believe that you can only make stories for only a white audience. Me, personally, I do not like watching movies in which I do not see people like me, and I hardly watch them. To be completely honest, I do not watch movies or shows where there are no “POC” actors. It does not need to be “all-black”, but Asian, Indian etc need to be included in the story.

ALM: Have you ever dealt with racism in the German film industry and if yes, what can you say about the issue of racism?

JK: Well, I have never dealt with direct racism in the film industry and I do not believe that there are many racists in our industry, at least that is my hope, but I believe that discrimination exist in our industry, by not acknowledging black people as Germans and show them without any explanation, like why they are speaking German or how they got to Germany. I believe that it is absolutely necessary to show „POC“ characters without explaining in every movie and TV show that is made in Germany; excpet of few stories. I think, in our industry, they hold the opinion that viewers cannot accept „POC „characters as a leading character without any explanation, and I do not believe it so. But, even if that would be the case, at least the state TV has an obligation to show „POC“ characters as „normal“ and as a part of the German society, in order to integrate them in the media. Especially, in these times, it is very necessary that the public sees „People of Color“ as their neighbours and citizens and not as foreigners.  Black people have been living in Germany for a long time. So, it should not be a surprise that there are Afro-Germans with all kinds of jobs and stories. This should be shown more on our TV shows and movies.

ALM: Who are your role models regarding acting and why?

JK: I do not have any role models per se, but I am inspired by a lot of different actors. I grew up with Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes and Jackie Chan movies, but at the same time I was inspired by Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington. Today, I love movies with Idris Elba, Samuel L. Jackson or Omari Hardwick. Why? Because they did what I wanted to do in acting. They played the parts of the hero and not the villain. They were the smooth and charming characters who saved the day. The reason why I wanted to become an actor. But, I also like actors like George Clooney, Viola Davis, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie etc. I do not mention any German actors, but that is not because they do not have an effect on me. Their impact was a different one. I love actors and works of Götz George, Til Schweiger, Katja Riemann or Jürgen Vogel, just to name a few of them. And even though, I really enjoy watching all of their work as acctors, but the stories that were told did not speak to me because the movies were not made for me, but for a white German audience that did not include me. Therefore, I was more inspired by British and American actors.

ALM: Which roles would you like to play? And why?

JK: I would love to play a role like James Bond, not the British agent, but maybe a German version of it. Like Tom Cruise did with the “Mission Impossible” movies. I like action movies with big emotions. I am a “physical” guy with big emotions. I guess that goes well together.

ALM: Is there anything you would like to address to the German viewer regarding your acting?

JK: Well, that is not an easy question. I would like if the German viewers like watching my movies, like what I am doing and keep on watching and demanding for me and “POC” actors like me. If the audience want more stories in which we take part, the studios have to tell more and different stories. Do not get me wrong, I want the German industry to continue with the projects they are doing now, but at the same time, I want them to give us the opportunity to tell the story from a different perspective. Our perspective, because you can tell a story over and over again, but it always will be different if you change the perspective.

ALM: What does acting mean to you?

JK: It is more than a job! Acting to me is… to be someone that I am not. To put myself in somebody else’s skin… To walk a mile in someone’s shoes. To tell a story to an audience and to entertain them, touch them, make them think. The greatest present to me is, when viewers come to me and tell me that the story and my performance touched them. That is the greatest gift. To be an actor is a calling. It is not just a job, it is what you are.

ALM: If you had 3 wishes free, what would that be ?

JK: Well, first I would love to speak all the languages in the world. Second, to be able to continue to work as an actor and to keep doing it, as long as my body allows it. Third, health, love and success to my family.

Dear Jerry,

your answers show me that it was the right decision to pick you as one of my interview partners. Thank you so much for making time. I wish you all the best for your acting career. It was a pleasure. Thank you.

Jennifer A. – Poem: „Strength“

I woke up today

And truly have to say

That the demons tried and tried

To lead me in a hole, dark and wide

But what they didn’t know was that

So much love and strength I had

For myself and for those around

To keep running, fleeing the hound

And at last I won the run

And have to say it was no fun

Because often your demons seem stronger

And you feel like you can’t hold on any longer

Just know that whatever they may have in store for you

There is nothing you CAN’T do.

Dear Jenny, thank you so much for writing such a great poem! I am absolutely sure that so many people out there can relate to what you have written. 


© Candy Frankenstone

!!! Disclaimer: This blog post contains ethnic slurs !!!!

ALM: Thank you for making time interviewing you. Please tell me more about you..

CF: I moved to Düsseldorf to study tourism and eventmanagement and after that went to Cape Town for 10 months to see something of the world and Africa. Currently I am back and working in Munich but I am constantly planning my next trip.

Well, I am 25 years old. It is hard to tell you where I reside, since I really enjoy travelling and do not feel like I found my place in the world yet. But I am currently residing in Bavaria. I was born in Baden-Württemberg and I was raised in Bavaria. My mother’s side of the family is Jamaican. Therefore, I consider myself a Jamaican. Although, other Jamaicans call me German since I was born here. The Germans though always ask me where I am from, therefore in their minds I can’t be German. “How can a black person be German?”

What might also be interesting for you is that I actually spent my first 6 years living in small Bavarian villages and went to a boarding school in Allgäu from age 11 to 14. Therefore, I first got in contact with black people especially African culture when I moved to Augsburg with 14. That also was the time when I made the conscious decision to go find black people and see if I feel more welcome or at home while being with them. Conclusion yes and no. There are certain personal traits that I do share with them and then there are certain things that are just very strange to me and unwelcoming. That is probably also the main reason why I do not consider myself an African either. I am Jamaican and feel most at home while being around Caribbean or Latin people.

ALM: The topic of this interview is racism (especially as a German with a darker skin). Please tell me more about your experiences in Germany regarding racism…

CF: The first thing I have to say is, I do not consider myself a German even though I was born and raised here. I will not deny that I do have German tendencies, I still don’t call myself German.

I also have not experienced too much racism in Germany, I have heard the word „nigga“ once or twice in my life while I was walking past (mainly teenagers or children) but if you get offended by a small child calling you names when you reach a certain level of experience you might have some thinking to do. Why does something a small child get you emotional?

Anyways, as I said, I was raised in small Bavarian villages therefore there where many elderly people saying things like “Oh look at this cute Neger Baby” or “Ah du meinst das Neger Kindle.” (engl.: Ah, you mean this Nigger child). I also know the song “10 kleine Negerlein” all of that was part of me growing up but I also always had a strong mother who wouldn’t let anybody call me “Neger” sometimes she would argue with the people. But most of the time, I remember her just being like “do not say that” most of the time the elders would ask “but why cannot we say that” or “Oh, we did not mean no harm, that’s just how we say it” But my mother would not accept that. She well argue/educate the people why it is wrong or hurtful to say these things. I adapted that and I believe that is one off the reason why, when I think of racism in my life, I do not get upset. I just know that I choose my battles wisely and I will not put myself in harm’s way to prove a point. I will not bend my back to make people think differently. I will always try but as soon as I feel like the person standing in front of me does not want to understand I do not go any further. My time and my energy is too valuable to waste on anything or anybody who refuses to change his/hers point of view.

ALM: What do you do when people judge you because of your skin colour?

CF: It always depends on who it is and how they judge me. When it is in a work environment I just work 100% harder than my “white” colleagues. When it happens during my spare time it also depends on who is in front of me. Usually, I am all about love and education but if I feel like the person I am talking to does not want to learn, is just stuck in his/her believe and does not care about seeing the others persons perspective. I do not argue. I do not educate. I just keep my distance.

ALM: What would you like to advice other people who are facing racism in the German society?

CF: Do not bow down. Do not be afraid to speak up. But be smart and know when to hold your tongue. Also do not get upset right away. There are many very uneducated people in this world. Which just need to understand where they are wrong and I always find switching positions and showing them what it feels like being at the receiving end of racism is always the best way to let them understand. I am not talking about bullying, I mean, speak to each other and keep calm, keep your cool. Also it helps putting yourself in that persons shoe. Imaging not knowing. If you think about what the media says or what the typical stereotypes are you might understand why the person thinks the way s/he is thinking especially if they have never talked to a black person.

ALM: Do you think there is something positive of being offended racially? If yes, what exactly?

CF: No! If there is anything you can take out of it is, you learn how to work harder, how to read people faster and how to keep yourself cool even if you feel like going to war. But not everybody gets out stronger, many people breake and many just become angry.

ALM: What would you like to say to the black community living in Germany?

CF: Love more. Stop being so strict to your own people. Do not project your feelings and experience onto others. Do not envy an others persons success. Find happiness for your black community even if you do not agree with how they find their happiness.

ALM: What would you like to change in the German society if you could? And why?

CF: I would get rid of the envy. Maybe also of self-hatred for some, or let me put it this way, I would emphasize self-love.

ALM: I was searching for someone who faced racism in the German society, why did you volunteer?

CF: Because I felt like many people that volunteer will only focus on how bad they have been treated and on the negative. But I feel like you need to see the light in the dark in order to change anything. Just complaining and pointing the finger does not help anybody. If you want the world to change. You have to be the change in the world you want to see first! I am not blaming the black community nor am I saying it is there fault, racism exists. I mean, we in Germany for the most part are not facing racism nearly as hard as most other parts of the world. So don not focus on the bad things that are happening around you. Focus on the good things that you see and embrace them. Do not let the darkness swallow you. Be the light!

ALM: What can German citizens do regarding racism?

CF: Stop assuming every black person is an asylee, since there are so many in Germany now. Also do not let the first word you say to us be in English, French or any other foreign language when we are in Germany. Also when you are abroad, do not forget that you also do have black people in Germany. I was working for a Hotel in Jamaica for a few months and obviously I was advised to cater to the German guests. Every single one of them was shocked by how good my German was and did not seem to grasp the fact that I was born in Germany. That is very rude! Also maybe be more open minded and do not blindly believe everything you see on TV or what your colleagues tell you after visiting one country in Africa for a few weeks where the main part of the trip they have been in a hotel. Talk to foreigners, you might learn something interesting!

ALM: If you had 3 free wishes, what would they be?

CF: I dont wish for much. I like money 🙂 But regading racism, I only have two wishes: Talk to each other and listen to each other.

Thank you Candy, for speaking up about the issue of racism in the German society and your honesty. Your way of facing racism inspired me very much  and I hope some people follow you as an example.


anneke dürkopp

ALM: You recently shared your story about your miscarriage on social media. Why did you decide to make this public?

AD: I have decided to go public with such a topic because I want to encourage other women. I cannot hide my pregnancy for ever, since I am a weather presenter. In the last 4 years, I have exchanged my experiences with other women who experienced the same, something similar or even worse than I have experienced. Strangely enough, not every woman exchanges her experience. This behaviour has several reasons, some are ashamed and the feeling of having failed as a woman, the latter is the main reason. Nowadays, or especially in social networks, people connote the “perfect life”. Therefore, people connote how a „perfect“ woman should be. Not having children is therefore no option, and the pressure on women is immense.

ALM: After your miscarriages, you decided to become pregnant via a test tube fertilisation. Tell me more about that journey…

AD: After the fourth miscarriage, there was no possibility to get pregnant in the normal way. The reason for that had been found out years later. One of my fallopian tube is impermeable, and the other one is hardly permeable. In addition, my Anti-Mullerian hormone is bad. Therefore, I could not afford any more waste of time. That is the reason why I have decided to perform a test-tube fertilization.

How did you cope with your miscarriages? If you could give other women any advice, what would it be?

AD: The important thing is to look for a source of strength. One should regain one’s strength after such a loss and destiny. But sometimes it is also tough because your body struggles with all the hormones. I think that meeting up with like-minded people and exchanging experiences might be very helpful. To know that one is not alone with the pain. It is also helpful to have a good relationship with your partner and this should absolutely kept alive.

ALM: Since you decided to talk about this issue in public, do you think that this issue is still a taboo subject and if yes, why do you think it is?

AD: Recently, a lot has changed. The #MeToo- Movement has set the ball rolling for many women. I think, the issue of miscarriage and everything that has to do with such an issue, belongs to that movement. There must be more help for women, more educational advertising and more openness. I think there will still be women who will choose to remain silent, but if I can motivate some women, I am happy. For example, Michelle Obama talked about her miscarriages and her test-tube fertilization on “Good Morning America”. THAT really helps! She is a fantastic woman and is respected all over the world. It is great that she speaks about such a topic. I have always been a fan of her.

ALM: I can imagine how emotional this journey might have been for you. Did you struggle with issues such as depression when you realized you won’t be able to become pregnant in the normal way?

AD: When I realized I cannot get pregnant in the normal way, I was shocked for a short time. But this was not significant. I tried to look at the situation realistically and therefore looked for other opportunities to get pregnant. I do not tend to have depression. But I can understand people who do, after going through such a loss. This is also not an issue to be ashamed of. One should think if one makes a use of a professional help.

ALM: Since you are a public person, can you tell me how your family and colleagues reacted when you decided to make this issue public?

AD: At the beginning, my family was sceptical, but it was my decision which I made, and I felt confident about it. My friends, overwhelmingly supported and encouraged me. That meant a lot to me and bolstered me.

ALM: You also started blogging about your pregnancy journey. Tell me more about your blog….

AD: On my blog (, I want to share my journey. Namely, in all what I do. There are funny videos but also serious topics such as miscarriage. I have interviewed a therapist and this interview will be uploaded in several parts at the beginning of next year. I think, most of the questions of my followers will be answered with that video.

ALM: Did your journey somehow impact your relationship with your partner? How did he help you to cope with all the issues?

AD: The past years have left traces regarding my relationship. But my man and I are closer to another now. Our commitment is stronger than ever before. Of course, there were tough times in which everyone mourned in his/her own way. I think, that is normal because we two are different individuals and not a symbiosis. I see us as a team. In a team, not everything runs properly, but you pull together.

ALM: What would you wish for the future regarding the issue of miscarriage and test tube fertilisation in the German society?

AD: I would be happy if there would be more educational advertising because that would help many women. Moreover, financial assistance regarding IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) would also be desirable.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Dear Anneke,

thank you very much for speaking up about such a difficult issue. It takes a huge courage to do so. It has been a pleasure interviewing you. You have inspired me in many ways and I am sure, you are inspiring a lot more people by going public. For your pragncancy, I wish you nothing but the BEST!


© Corinna Rauer © Dschafar El Kassem

ALM: Please, introduce yourself to my followers

CR: My name is Corinna and I am a 32 year old anthropologist from Freiburg, Germany. After graduating I worked as a project manager of development projects mainly funded by the EU or World-Bank. Then last year I decided to quit my job to put a long-standing idea into practice: to make a film about European border, migration and refugee policy.

ALM: Several weeks ago, you gave a presentation about your work – you are trying to make aware of the current refugee crisis. Please, tell me more about your work and your documentary Beyond Borders.

CR: Since 2015 the term ‘refugee crisis’ has become synonymous across the Northern hemisphere with the deluge of pictures of people wearing orange life jackets; their rubber boats, masses of people walking hundreds of miles and bodies of drowned people washing ashore. The ‘emergency situation’ has been widely broadcasted and was made publicly accessible. Newspapers, talk-shows, political speeches and documentary films have appeared showing many angles of the ‘crisis’. Confronted with the overwhelming magnitude of the hardship, a feeling of powerlessness has crept up on many Europeans and the political suggestion that the ‘crisis’ can only be averted, and lives can only be saved by “closing the border” has become what appears to be the only tenable resolution in many contexts.

Yet, if we look at the situation along the European external borders over the last decades it becomes apparent that the public has a short memory span. These ‘crises’ have repeatedly emerged at different ‘hotspots’ (e.g. Canaries 2006 or Lampedusa 2011/13) since the Schengen agreement in the 90s. It was then that first migrant boats appeared, and the first migrant lives were lost. Despite massive EU investment in border control and surveillance1, people have continuously arrived on the continent in increasingly dire circumstances: The EU’s approach is evidently failing.

As opposed to the many documentaries on border control and externalisation already in existence, our film will stand out by not focussing on a singular ’spectacular‘ crisis at one current EU-border ‘hotspot’ but rather examines the underlying causes of the many humanitarian crises that have evolved at the ‘hotspots’.

This enables us to look beyond the geography and beyond only problematising the suffering and deaths. The film evolves around the question: If the approach of increasing border control has been failing, what humane alternatives could be implemented instead? The film primarily focusses on the journey of the two young filmmakers, who set out to find answers to that question. What role does development aid play in this? Which legal pathways should or already do exist? And what can ‘we’, the people in Europe, do to ease the situation along ‘our’ borders and beyond?

We will visit projects and organisations that work on answering these questions; they speak to scientists and experts from Africa, Europe and the Middle-East, they visit border ‘hotspots’, and most importantly hear alternative ideas from people most affected by the EU policies – migrants and refugees themselves.

ALM: What was the reason for you to start this kind of work and project?

CR: It all started in 2011 when I was conducting research in the border area between Arizona, USA and Nogales, Mexico. During this time, I learnt a lot about the global connections of migration: About the underlying economic dynamics between low-income and high-income countries, and its consequences for small farmers – in this case – in Mexico; about the power of security companies lobbying in the field of border enforcement; about the fact that goods I consume come from companies that make people work in unworthy conditions; about the circumstance that the bank that stores and manages my money, has shares in security companies that earn billions with border security and deportation.

Ever since that experience I knew that I will have to dedicate my life to the subject of borders, refugees and migration. Already then, I knew that at one point in my life I want to bring all this rich knowledge that exists in social science about borders and migration into the format of a film.

ALM: What is the purpose of what you are doing? What do you want to achieve?

CR: The film Beyond Borders Documentary will provide the (mainly European) audience with arguments that lead away from the common standpoint “We cannot let them all in”. It will empower the viewers to enrich the public discourse and to put pressure on politics, in order to argue for a more compassionate and humanitarian response.

ALM: Did you have any situation which touched you the most during your work?

CR: There were many moments that touched me deeply during our research trip for the film project. From June to September 2017 Dschafar and I already conducted a three-phased research trip to several (former) border ‘crisis’ hotspots to simply listen and talk to people affected, NGOs and scientists to get a first feel for the situation. We participated on a two-week rescue mission off the Libyan coast in the small and rusty GDR-fishing cutter ‘Seefuchs’ from the NGO Sea-Eye. We spend another week in Malta to talk to more NGOs and experts. In August we spent three weeks in Northern Morocco and spent time with Philip Zulu from Sierra Leone who showed us around and introduced us to his thoughts and friends. Here we also had the honour of talking to the archbishop of Tangier who is very active in supporting migrants. This was followed by one week in Ceuta, the Spanish enclave on the African continent. In Ceuta we met with two grassroot NGOs. In September we took the car and drove down the so-called West-Balkan route for 2.5 weeks and made stops at the border between Croatia and Serbia, Belgrade, Northern Greece and Chios island. We met refugees and migrants and visited several NGOs in Serbia and Greece.

What stuck to me most is the many people you meet who are somehow influenced by the restrictive border regime of the EU. In many cases we listened to life stories that are hard to comprehend, if you have been growing up in Germany. You listen and try to comprehend the story the person is telling you that let him or her leave his/her home. You feel devastated and powerless… and then you take your German passport and leave. Leaving the person behind, because he or she has not been lucky enough to be born on German soil.

ALM: What would you like to say to people who are against accommodation of refugees/ What did you learn for your personal life, since you have been doing this work/ What do you think should change, in order to live in a better place?

  • CR: Stay informed and consult sources that are trustworthy.
  • Realize that much that we do – living and consuming in the Global North – has an influence on people’s life in other countries.
  • Listened to the people most affected by the deadly border and migration policy, and realize we are all just human beings with flaws and positive attributes.

ALM: Where can my followers find your documentary “Beyond Borders”?

CR: We are still working on it and are currently still in pre-production phase. You can see the trailer from the research trip here:

ALM: If you had 3 wishes free, what would that be?

  • CR: A world, where everyone has the chance to live in peace
  • A world, where everyone has the chance to have perspective in life
  • A world, in which everyone realizes that we are all equals
1The border security market, valued at more than 16 billion euros in 2017 and estimated to grow 8 percent annually in coming years.

Dear Corinna,

thank you so much for giving me such an informative interview. You are doing an incredible work and it was a pleasure for me. Thank your for accepting my interview request. You are paving the way for a better understanding of the current refugee crisis. Thanks and all the best.


© Kelsey Neal

Please introduce yourself to my followers….

A: My name is Kelsey Neal. I am from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I am 30 year old young. Entrepreneur, network marketing mentor and Thyroid Cancer survivor!

Q: I contacted you via Instagram after I have realized that your post have been always positive. Where do you take all the positive vibes from?

A: My positive vibes? They come from everyone around me, that vibrates good energy… you know the things that make you feel really good all around, that put a smile on your face! That kind of positivity… the little things, everyday. It can be tricky thing to maintain, but I surround myself with many things that give me gratitude, hope and inspiration. Which includes music, people and travel.

Q: You had been diagnosed with cancer and (thank God) you survived. Please, tell me ore about your journey…

A: After my diagnosis in 2015, I started to see the bigger picture of my life being painted differently. I cannot describe the feeling but all of the sudden, I felt like… I was supposed to start going in another direction that I could not control. I was going to start doing bigger things, dreaming bigger and grabbing hold of every new opportunity possible cause my time was important to me. Before thyroid cancer, life was good. I had a full time career, was working away, saving for vacations, enjoying our dog and I had a beautiful new home, I was 26 at the time and ready to start the next chapter of my life with my husband. The dreams of starting a family was in the process and then when I had my yearly physical exam, everything changed. They found cancer. They found a lump in my right thyroid bed and then after everything happened something came over me, that this was going to ALL change whether I wanted it to or not… the moment it all changed was when I woke up in the hospital, I cried and said to my family  “I am alive”.

Q: What exactly has changed in your life since your diagnosis?

A: I learned many things along the way… I learned to accept this diagnosis, it was hard. The hardest thing to ever experience, I had the “why me” moments time and time again. I slept for days, I was angry, miserable and tired (always tired). After all I was missing my thyroid, it was removed due to the cancer and it was not functioning properly anymore. For those who do not know, your thyroid controls so much of your body and brain. It controls the hormonal system, which also includes energy levels, emotions, metabolism and so much more. My thyroid was removed, and now I live on medication for the rest of my life, to ensure the hormone levels are balanced as best as possible. This is a tricky act. I have an invisible illness, that does not define me and my good days have finally began to outweigh the bad. After learning to accept this diagnosis and grieve the loss of my organ. I began to slowly, but surely get out of this lifeless body and start turning my thoughts into positive vibes only. At the time of my journey, I was experiencing hair loss, hair thinning and my confidence was dwindling. I stumbled across a company that could help me with those challenging experiences. I am grateful that I learned to say „Yes“ to new things, cause if I did not I may be on a different path. I am now a top leader in my industry, helping those who struggle with this illness, hair loss and help other discover their self worth. I am motivational speaker now, something I always dreamed of doing, but did not feel I had a story of my own to share… and well… Now I do. Who knew right?! I learned to take risks, because.. What is the best thing that could happen!

Q:  What would you advise people who are going through a difficult time ? What helped you while you had cancer ?

A: The best advice I can share with someone who has been recently diagnosed with Thyroid cancer or any type of illness, is that….Never forget where you came from, hold your past life close to you. Because moving forward you will become someone brand new and different but always carry those special moments, childhood memories and experiences of your previously life near and dear. All the sweet times, all the laughter, all the joy and love that brings you life… hold it close and never let it go. This will help you with your dark times, your struggles and challenges that you will face. Remember your younger days, your past life experiences (the good ones) and embrace the new you. It is like a second chance to have anything you want, do anything and BE anything without having any commitment to others opinions, any other negativity that was once drawn into your life. During my journey for example, I attended Young Adult Cancer retreats and also had the honor to facilitate one of my own. I surround myself with like minded people going through similar experiences. I connected myself to social media, woman from all over the world facing this thyroid illness that felt uncontrollable to them too. I felt safe talking to people who had been there. Family and friends supported me in a different way, they offered so much love and care. I am thankful to have let my family in during these times. Hold them close and do not be afraid to open up and be vulnerable with the world, this is where the magic can happen and you start to know your worth and place in life, even during the worst times. A little piece of you, still remains hopeful and strong. NEVER LET IT GO!

Q: Is there anything you would have done differently since your diagnosis? If yes what and why?

A: There is absolutely nothing I would change about this diagnosis and illness. Not one thing! Why? Because it is lead me to the person I am today. This was my path, it was chosen for me for a reason. Thyroid cancer was a blessing in disguise. Remember earlier you asked me about my life before this illness and what I was doing… well now since then.. I have climbed mountains I never thought I could. I have had more obstacles during this time, than anything I ever experienced in my life, and after all obstacles and hurdles are the path to success and fulfillment.  I have travelled alone and only told a select few about it and will continue to travel to soak it in while I still can. I have dug deep to what it is I want in my life moving forward. I have taken risks, opened new doors, closed old ones, let go of anything that has not helped me grow which includes relationships, people, jobs, places and more. I see life now in a different lense and my time is so valuable to me. You go through big chunks of time in your life, when you think this is impossible… I can not do this anymore… but then you keep going and just keep going… and all of the sudden you sort of do the possible!

If you had 3 wishes free – what would that be ?

A: 3 wishes? Hmmm…. Wow.. I have not been asked that type of question, since I was little
1. I wish that I could connect with everyone… there are so many beautiful, unique people in the world with so many stories.. All backgrounds, all walks of life… getting to know people and being open to new connections.. Gratitude, it is the memory of the heart!

2. I wish I could meet my musical Idol Michael Jackson! I have been a fan since I was little his voice, song and dance has inspired in my aspects of my life. Raw, real talent and his lyrics are moving. He was a big influence to many around the world. I wish I could have had the chance to see him in concert.

3. I wish for more time. Unfortuantely, I cannot control this. But if I could… give me more time. I am not talking about the 24 hours in a day like for work.. I make sure I balance this clock and use my time with intention. I am talking about… when your in a moment, experience or place.. And you just wish you had “a bit more time”… like when your on a hot beach and it is the last day of vacation! That  kind of time… a snap of my fingers and I could lay there just a few more days in the sun !


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Dear Kelsey,

I am glad to get to know such a inspiring person as you are. I am sure that this interviw will open eyes and change some people’s point of view. It was a pleasure interviewing you. Your answers definitely have an impact on me. Thank you so much for your time. You are an inspiration to me and I am glad to have had you as my interview parter. You deserve nothing but the BEST.


© Silke Szymura
© Silke Szymura

– Couple of months ago, I came along and read on Facebook about what Silke is writing about. After I read her blog, I was sure that she would suit to my interview partners. Silke lost her partner Julian during a visit in Nepal. She uses her experience to support others during the process of grief. Read the whole interview below.

Q: Please, introduce yourself to my followers…

A: Yes, I would love to. My name is Silke and I am 35 years old. I live near Frankfurt, Germany. I am an author, blogger and grief counsellor – and at the same time, I am just me. A woman who is searching her place in this world and who does not (suit) into this world anymore, at least not like in the past. Before the death of my spouse, I was a computer scientist and worked for several companies. Nowadays, my deepest concern is to provide support for people and to contribute to find their own way through grief. This means, I am a kind of a friend from the starting point of grief. I was able to make peace with the past and now I want to pass it on.

Q: The reason why I have chosen you to be my next interview partner is that you do something really special – you blog about death and grief. Please, tell me how did you come to do that?

A: Funny, how you highlighted it as “something really special”. For me, it has become something normal. Sometimes, I must remind myself that death and grief are still taboo subjects – and that is exactly the reason why I have started to write about these issues. I have experienced how tough it is to deal with these issues. Back then, I did not know how to handle it and I remained silent and kept myself out of the way of people who were grieving. I thought it would be good not to talk about it and I thought it would be wrong to remind them of grieving. It was just an issue I could not deal with. Then, my boyfriend died, and I experienced it from another point of view. It was so painful to be alone with all that. I came to know that people who also were grieving, felt the same as I did. They told me that their friends withdrew themselves and that they were expected to grieve in  quick and in silence. Hence, it was a wish of mine to talk more about this stuff, to draw attention to grief – and what grief really means. Particularly, grief is a valuable ability of our soul to deal with loss. Grief is individual and needs time. I wanted to create a „room” where grief is allowed and to contribute to a normal handling with such an issue in Germany. It is a fact that death belongs to our lives, if we want it or not. I for myself have experienced that it becomes easier when we accept it and deal with it, instead of acting as if death does not exist. The idea to start a blog arose on all these grounds. The title “In lauter Trauer “(engl.: In loud mourning) arose from the condolence cards labelled with “In stiller Trauer” (engl. In silent mourning), which are common in Germany. I have always felt that the person who gets the card, should mourn in silence in order not to “disturb” someone. In the course of time, I have realized that it is important for me that I create some kind of a room, where feelings are welcomed. The fact that I am honest with my feelings while writing my blogposts, I also invite my readers to realize and to be honest with their feelings too. To feel them and to express them.

Q: Your partner Julian died 5 years ago. Tell me more about his death…

A: There is a lot to tell about, but at the same time, there is not that much which I can tell you. Julian fainted suddenly during our holiday in Nepal, at the age of 29. He was well just a minute ago, he was healthy and alive and in the next moment he lay on the street and died. Without any reason. We were both on the way in the morning. Therefore, I stand next to him and could not do anything to save him. I could only watch it happening. Even though, people helped us to get him to a hospital, but it was just too late. At this moment, I lost the ground, and nothing was like it was before. Days and weeks after Julian’s death, I experienced a lot of support and a lot of things which I was grateful for. Back then, we were visiting a wonderful family. Julian and I supported an association from Germany, which helps poor children and that family helped those children locally. The family treated us like a member of the family, I really felt human closeness and a deep sympathy. I was supported in Nepal. On my viewpoint, I experienced a normal handling with death, which I have never experienced before in Germany or rather never experienced in my own family. In a Buddhist monastery, it was me who inflame the wood for the cremation of his body. In these hours, I felt close to him as never before and I dipped into this feeling of love. I think, these moments were the most touching of my life right at the centre of all that pain. His death and everything what happened afterwards, have changed my life completely. For a long time, I felt like I was displaced. I lost my beloved Julian; my view of life was destroyed, and my house of cards collapsed and I did not know what to believe in anymore.

Q: How did you work through all that trauma? What did you do? Who helped you?

A: I took a lot of time for myself. This was the most important thing for me. Time to mourn Julian. But, also time to find out who I was and what my purpose in this world.  It was important for me to feel all kind of emotions which were hidden inside me. And of course, the pain which I thought I could not stand any longer. I went through this pain and hoped to come out with a new courage to face life. As I said, it was a long journey. I looked for support: therapist, hospital stay, grief counselling, grief groups, some exchange with other concerned people, with specialist literature and experience reports. And finally, support through my spiritual way of living, which began in Nepal. It was this experience, which had given me so much strength. And there was the love for Julian, our remaining connection through our soul which kept me going. My parents accommodated me which allowed me to start a professional re-orientation. Besides that, I always have met people which were just there for me. Friends accepted me the way I am although I knew was changing. I have just met the right people at the right time.Last but not least, writing helped me. Page after page, I wrote to Julian in my diary. The nature also helped me. At some point, I started to go out into the nature and tried to connect with the earth. So, there were little and big steps which helped me. Today, I am very grateful that I was able to take some time off, in order to feel and to find my peace on earth.

Q: How did you get the idea to write a book about this topic?

A: I knew that I am going to write a book about my experience, when I was on my way back home from Nepal to Germany after Julian died. I cannot say why exactly I felt that way, but I knew I have to tell this story. I knew there was a hidden message and this message wanted to be told to the world. I did not know what exactly this hidden message was or how to write a book and if someone would ever read it, but I knew I was going to write about it. It took 4 years until I took this idea into practice. My book was published under the heading “Zwischen den Welten” by MASOU-Verlag. The moment I held my first book in my hands was very special and I probably will never forget it. 

Q: What would you advise people who currently going through the same situation?

A: I would wish them to take as much time as they need and to listen to themselves. Grief knows the way and it helps us to endure this unbelievable loss. Step by step. I wish everyone who experiences grief that s/he treats her-/himself well. Grief is a tough time and it is absolutely okay when you are not okay after few months, but it is also okay vice versa. There is no right or wrong through the process of grief. It is okay when it takes time and it does not matter what other people think when we speak about grieving.

Q: Do you think Julian’s death has although a positive aspect? If yes, in which way?

A: Meanwhile, I really think and feel that his death has a positive aspect. I have experienced so great things and my life has become wealthier, simply on the fact that I know more about death and the encounters with beautiful people who I have met since his death. Julian’s death has directed me on my way, which I would not have walked on without him. This does not mean that it was a good thing that he died, but it means something valuable out from it and I am really thankful for that. 

Q: In which way did your life change, since the death of Julian?

A:  I would say that his death has changed me at all levels. Everything has changed. I am not the Silke who I was before, and I would not want to be that Silke anymore. I gave up my job as a computer scientist and explored writing. Nowadays, I work with people and I have the feeling that my work really suits to the person I am now. At the same time, I am still in that process which I will continue to change because I am not finished yet, I am just on my journey. My environment has also changed. Most of my friends are not a part of my life anymore but I have gained new people. Through therapy, trainings and seminars, I engage with topics which I did not know before. It feels like being in a different world since his death. 

Q:  Have you learned something from Julian’s death?

A: Yes! A lot. I cannot even summarize this. I have learned that life has really an end. But I also have learned that the soul, our consciousness or whatever you want to call it, does not have an end. I have experienced that something keeps existing regardless of our body. Finally, I have learned that love is so much more than what we humans reduced it to be. Love is in everything and surrounds us. And love just continues to live, the connection remains beyond his death. I love Julian not the way I did when he lived. Not as a man, a human being but from soul to soul. Before his death, I have never thought of stuff like that. I kind of did not believe in anything and lived as if death did not exist. Today, I live consciously and connected to Julian, but also to people, to the earth, to the nature and to something big, which I cannot put into words. I especially have found to myself in the process of all the pain. I have learned to really feel myself, to see my needs and to live more. Yes, death has taught me in an oddly way to live. I have had the chance to learn that life is not predictable.

Q: How did you manage to draw strength from such a tragedy?

A: That’s a great question. People assume me to be a strong person when they see me. Me for myself do not see myself as strong. Right at the beginning of Julian’s death, I did not have another choice. I was just like a machine. I felt weak for a long time and I still have times, when I feel like I am very “small”, weak and unable to be good in this world. In these moments, it is kind of strange when people assume me to be strong. But maybe it is this engagement of weakness, vulnerability and feelings which let us appear strong. In view of such a tragedy, you do not have anything left from outside, which gives you strength. So, I thought it was the best to be okay with myself from the inside. People who see strength in me, only can see it because they have it inside themselves. 

Q: When was the time when you realized that Julian is gone?

A: I cannot really remember a certain moment. I would say it was a process. It was journey, on which I frequently realized step by step that he will never come back again. There were days or times, in which I still could not realize that. There were moments when I believed that he will enter the room, and everything would turn out to be a nightmare. I saw him dying, I stood next to his dead body and said goodbye to him and saw with my own eyes that it was just a “empty shell” which was lying on the ground. It took me some time to realize what this would mean for me in my everyday life. At least, his body and Julian were gone, but his soul was still there. All these things were quite confusing and painful. I remember when a part of me was still hoping him to come back a year after his death. My consciousness knew that this would never happen, but I still needed time to convince myself and to realize that. The realization of death is one of the biggest challenges in the process of grief. This might be the reason why we grieve in several different steps, otherwise our soul could not endure it to accept a loss of a beloved human from one moment to another.  

Q: What is your favourite memory when you think of Julian? Which emotions does this create ?

A: When I think of Julian nowadays, I actually feel joy and gratitude because he was a part of my life. He still is a part of my life (somehow) and at the same time, I do not think of him that often anymore. Sometimes, there are such memories which just come up when I visit a certain place or hear a certain music. Of course, I do talk a lot about him when I read from my book or when I talk about my history. It brings warmth, love and gratitude in my heart. 

Q: If you had 3 wishes free, what would that be?

A: I would wish to own a house with garden at the edge of a forest in which I can find some rest, invite guests and provide support for people. Yes, I am dreaming having such a place in the future, where people can meet each other. Besides that, I really hope that we start to learn to treat death in a normal way. Generally, I wish that we meet people without any valuations and prejudices – without any masks. I wish that we learn to feel our emotions and that we allow others also to do so. And I hope we start accepting others just the way they are. A world in which people follow their hearts and in which people allow others to do so. I think that was more than three wishes, but I really wish that from my whole heart. 


Dear Silke,

thank you for your openness and talking about your experiences. You are doing an amazing job and I hope that you can help a lot of people. Thank you for your time and patience. I wish you all the best for your future.



Hello out there,

nice to see you here. My blog has moved to WorldPress in the hope to reach more people out there. My interviews which have already been published on are still avalaible for all those who might be interested.

The aim of this blog is to inspire as many people as possible. My interview partners have been chosen wisely and I am glad to spread their life stories. I want everyone who reads my blog to take something positive with them for their lives.

So, feel free to share all the upcoming Blogposts (Interviews).

Besides blogging, I am also interested in photography – they are also going to be posted here, but the main aim is to inspire and to spread positive vibes.

I hope to inspire you in my next interview. Stay tuned!

See you soon.


Aby LeMarchal