“When the word ‘Africa’ is mentioned in class, everyone looks to me”

“When the word ‘Africa’ is mentioned in class, everyone looks to me”

A room of one’s own

21-03-2023 · Interview

Adeline Mosozi (21, Belgium), a bachelor's student of European Law, lives on Herbenusstraat in a 20m2 apartment with its own kitchenette. Mosozi shares two bathrooms with 8 other students and spends 421 euros a month.

Mosozi was attracted to UM not only because it was close to her parent’s home in Belgium, but also because of the PBL learning system. As the oldest child with one brother and a sister, Mosozi goes home to her parents once or twice a month, and still does sometimes feel homesick. She misses being with her siblings and hanging out with her family, especially having dinner together and sharing stories.

Black Lives Matter

A vision board is taped on her floor-length mirror with quotes like “Never give up” and “If you dream it you can do it”. Her vision board helps her to remember her goals and stay motivated: right now, her biggest goal is to graduate this year.

Mosozi’s room is decorated with a poster of Africa, a map of Maastricht and a board with the words ‘black lives matter’ stated in bold. Towards the end of the pandemic, the movement gained visibility in America and spread to the rest of the world, including the Netherlands. Why does she support the movement?  Mosozi laughs: “First of all, I’m black.  All black people should support the idea behind the movement: black people deserve to be treated equally.” To Mosozi, being black means having dark skin colour and carries cultural values of honesty, integrity, and treating people compassionately.

She sees the need for the movement everywhere: in the streets and even in her tutorial groups. “When the word ‘Africa’ is mentioned in class, everyone looks to me,” she says. “This is upsetting because I am usually the only black student in the class, and I feel targeted when everyone looks to me just because of my skin colour.”

She goes on to describe a traumatic event. She was working at a store and was the only French-speaking person there. “A French woman went up to my white colleague and started speaking to her and when my colleague mentioned that the woman should speak to me instead, I could see that she didn’t want to. I think this is because I am black.”

Cooked banana

Mosozi was born in Belgium and feels partly Belgian – she speaks Flemish and French, she dresses like most students do. She wears a lot of clothes from H&M and Zara She also thinks that she is traditionally Belgium in what she eats: a lot of European food, especially friet and waffles, her favourite. Sometimes at her parents‘ home she will eat traditionally African meals, like banana plantain which is cooked banana, or rice with beans.

Despite her European upbringing, a large part of her identity is African. Her parents are from Burundi and moved to Europe before she was born. Mosozi is very proud to be African: it means being more caring about others. “Africans definitely have a bigger sense of community than Europeans do”, she says. She visits Burundi about once a year and spends time catching up with family and friends.

Running shoes

Running shoes are lying next to her mirror. In her free time, she likes going to the gym. At least three times a week, although this is not always possible in exam season, she does her exercises, not only to get fit and relieve stress, but also to escape her everyday responsibilities. “I feel really good afterwards, it’s lovely to not think about anything else except my workout.”

She had already a Basic Fit membership from Belgium and decided to keep it instead of opening another membership at UM Sport. “UM sport is quite far from the centre”, and that wouldn’t encourage her to go. And now she has access to multiple gyms instead of one.

No, she doesn’t have a shirt  or jacket with the words Meet People in Maastricht, but she is the president of this association which organises meet-ups (include dinners, sleepover, game nights and movie nights) for international students. She believes that a lot of associations in Maastricht are Dutch, so it is important to have one for everyone. “This is a very inclusive space, and everyone is welcome.”

Kathryn van den Berg

Author: Redactie

Photo: Ellen Oosterhof

Categories: news_top, People
Tags: student room,africa,european law,student,instagram

Add Response

Click here for our privacy statement.

Since January 2022, Observant only publishes comments of people whose name is known to the editors.