Crossing another border often opens other doors

Alban Perlala is 25. At the age of 16, he too experienced the inside of a Greek jail. He had been arrested during a student protest rally along with seven fellow-pupils who were Greek. The seven were released, but not Alban. His teachers and the Nikaia branch of the State High School Teachers’ Association (ELME) collected the money to bail him out. But later a court found him guilty. He gave up school and focused on music. His passion for hip-hop led to the creation of a band comprised of migrants – Ukrainians, Albanians and Poles. The group did well, but Alban didn’t. He felt as if he had failed. At the age of 20, he tried one last time to finish night school but did not succeed. His break with Greek society came when he realized that if he crossed the border to play at a concert, he wouldn’t be able to get back in. That’s when he made up his mind. Two years ago, he met a woman from Sweden and decided to migrate for the second time. This time it worked out. In Sweden things were very different. He had a grant to help him out during the first few difficult months, lessons in Swedish and a state office that monitored his integration into local society, Alban is happy now. He keeps in touch with Greek news through the Internet and is busy making a record. His family has stayed in Athens but he won’t hear of coming back. He feels so certain that he was unjustly treated, mainly because nobody here has tried to convince him otherwise. And he already feels that he owes something to Sweden. He can compare his experience here and there.