Ulla von Ammon
It was love at first sight when I saw Cultural Conversations popping up in Nelson. It feels like stepping into a colorful living room that creates a safe space for amazing people from everywhere in the world and everyone with a different story.
My story started in Germany and continued in New Zealand where I moved about 7 years ago to do a PhD in marine biosecurity, working with DNA traces that all organisms leave behind in the environment. A bit like a detective with the goal to protect our native biodiversity in the oceans! Today, I still work at the Cawthron Institute, where we are people from 32 different countries which makes it such a vibrant environment and I am grateful to be a part of it. It was made so easy for me to settle in beautiful New Zealand and I wish people could all have the same experience.
I know this is not the case and growing up with all the heavy German history and following Europe’s refugee policies, I always tried to engage myself in different initiatives, to help people settle, come together, learn from each other, and have a society that embraces diversity. I was doing homework with kids in a German refugee camp, when I realized how unbelievably hard it is to grow into a new society if there is nobody to make you feel welcome. Cultural Conversations provides a magnificent space to do exactly that and I feel so happy that Tanya has asked me to be an “official” piece in our cultural puzzle.