I never wrote a blog before. When I was asked to write a blog for the “nieuw wij” website, I was not sure where should I start. Probably it will be good to start with introducing myself and my work. I apologize for writing in English, my Dutch is not that good yet, I have been living in the Netherlands for only for a year and a half.

So, my name is Ronie, I am 28 years old and I was born and raised in Jerusalem. I grow up in a multicultural, diverse environment. Israel is a very special place in cultural terms, where the society is a mix of completely different people and almost everyone is an immigrant. Like many Jewish people, my family is also from different places around the World.

Let’s start with my mother, she was born is Israel, in the late 50’s, in Jerusalem. Her parents both were immigrants in the new born Israel. My grandfather is originally from Egypt, Alexandria, and my grandmother was from Tunisia. My grandparents spoke between them French and Arabic, and the kitchen at their place used to be a diverse kitchen where you can find Tunisian cuscus, Egyptians salads and “Israeli”omlets.

My father, on the other hand, is an immigrant himself, and he moved to Israel in the late 70’s from Barcelona, Spain. His parents were originally from Spanish Morocco, but they lived most of their lives in Barcelona.

I think that at this point you can understand the multiculturalism that characterized my life. Between Spanish food and language, Tunisian cuscus, French language and Hebrew I had to develop my own Israeli and personal identity. On top of all this, three years ago I met my Dutch partner, and moved to the Netherlands a year and a half ago.

So, as you can see, trying to define my cultural identity, and my sense of belonging is not an easy task. Nowadays I am studying for a master in Utrecht University, in English, trying to learn some Dutch, and to teach my partner some Hebrew. Above all these, I am faced with the difficulties of being a migrant, the integration process in Dutch society and in the Netherlands.

I have to say this is not easy! Sometimes it can be very exhausting, but now after the first year (which is the hardest one, so I have been told), I can start making the best out of the situation and look for the interesting parts!

So the reason I am telling you all this is because my personal background led me to where I am today. Questions like “how to feel at home in the Netherlands,” of belonging, identities, multiculturalism, all of these are interesting me on a personal level, but also for my academic research.

As part of my master studies in Gender studies, we are asked to carry out a practical internship phase for ten weeks. I will perform the internship with the Dominican Study Centre for Theology and Society: DSTS. Besides my research project I will work in a house in Zaandam of a Christian organization “De Bron”. The aim of the activities in the house is to create an open space for dialogue between differences, a space any person who wishes to connect with others in the community, and needs attention for different reasons, is welcomed. Among different activities I wish to interview migrant women and be part of the activities in this house in order to engage with the practical work with migrants besides the academic work. I am looking forward to work with DSTS and in Zaandam, I have many expectations! But I have no idea yet what will come along the way…

To be continued…


Ronie Barel.


Ronie Barel

verhuisde van Israël naar Nederland, activist, blogger

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