Utrecht is home to many nationalities. Every week, DUIC features an Utrechter with a different background. The concept was inspired by ‘180 amsterdammers’.

All the cultures you encounter here make life richer

Esmir was just five years old when his parents arrived in the Netherlands, on the run from the war that had just started in their native country. Although he didn’t witness any shootings, as a child Esmir was conscious of their flight and the time they spent in the asylum seekers’ centre. “We initially fled within our own country. I didn’t recognise any danger; to me, it was like going to stay with people”, says Esmir. He was too young to understand, but the experience left its mark. It wasn’t until later that he realised how much impact the war had had. “I look at things differently now I’m older”, continues Esmir. “I’ve been a foreigner in a new country, so comments about foreigners hit home. The rhetoric used in Bosnia to unleash war is also used in politics here. The way people look down on certain groups makes me very uncomfortable.”

At least once or twice a year, Esmir returns to his native country. “I keep up with the news and current affairs there. A lot of Dutch Bosnians feel this connection with their country. It’s so close – just a two-hour flight. And it’s a European country, quite western, so I can keep in touch with my relatives via internet.” Like many other Bosnians, he didn’t think he’d stay in the Netherlands for long.

Esmir is happy living in Utrecht. He came to the city to start his own company with his brother-in-law, who already lived there. “There are more opportunities here than in Kerkrade in Limburg, where I grew up.” Esmir sees lots of advantages to Utrecht: “It’s central, close to Amsterdam, and there’s always something going on. But it’s not as busy or expensive as Amsterdam.”

He refers to Utrecht as an open city. “I live on the outskirts of the Kanaleneiland district and shop at a local Turkish supermarket. All the different cultures you encounter here make life richer. If only it were like this everywhere…”

Name: Esmir Mujkic
Date of birth: 28 September 1987
Place of birth: Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Motto: ‘There is no change without change’

Allemaal Utrechters is a series of interviews with people who moved to Utrecht from another country. We ask them about their background and their impression of Utrecht, revealing the true diversity of our city. The ‘Allemaal Utrechters’ series is a collaboration between DUIC and Culturele Zondagen, and has been made possible with help from Stichting Dialoog and the Municipality of Utrecht. We hope to showcase every nationality in Utrecht.

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