My name is S. Semih (Sem) Bayhan, I am 31 years old and started my career at Continental in September 2014 with an apprenticeship program.
With my story I want to give you insights into the world of a former refugee in the hope of encouraging those with similar experiences. But even for those who (thank God) have not been expelled from their homeland but had or still have to experience other difficult times, I hope to encourage them and to give hope.
I am of Kurdish origin and was born in 1989 in an idyllic village. My few memories of the 90s are marked by war, violence and hatred, resulting in an environment full of suffering and misery. I had to see things no child should ever have to see. The conditions? Inhumane. Today, things such as a roof over our heads, running water and daily food were not taken for granted, much less the access to education. A vicious circle.
In April 1999 it was enough for my back then 25 years old mother. So, she took me and my 2 younger siblings on a long and exhausting journey to Europe. The goal? Did not really matter. We were ready to give up our homeland and only wanted freedom, peace, tolerance and above all a dignified life.
In March 2000, when I was just 11 years old, we arrived in Germany and spent 2 very difficult years in a refugee camp, but still grateful and full of hope. However, the uncertainty about our future burdened us seriously. The fear of starting all over again was our daily feeling. We had lost our courage, we thought it would never be like before, we thought we would never recover. Only hope remained for us.
The relief came in 2002, we were recognized as refugees and could build a new life in Germany from now on. We had access to education like everyone else, a completely new situation for us. In order to process our past experiences, we took professional help. Thanks to all the support we were able to experience in Germany, we were constantly improving. Of course, deep wounds heal more slowly, but they do heal. We have successfully integrated ourselves and are extremely happy that we have found another homeland in Germany.
Since 2014, I also have the privilege of working for a company like Continental. My strengths lie in numbers, which is why I work in the area of Finance & Accounting. In addition to this, I act as a Digital Lead Guide at our Location Hanover and I am part of a worldwide GUIDE network - a unique project to actively drive the digital transformation and to support all colleagues in this exciting journey. But especially the company values Freedom To Act, For One Another and Trust make me a proud employee. Also, the importance of diversity, tolerance and sustainability has a high priority. All these values are exemplified daily and motivates me and others to give our best.
But above all, this culture ensures that we learn with and from each other. Such an environment is the breeding ground for professional as well as personal development – the foundation for true success. I have experienced this not only in my business life, but also in my private life. Only in such an environment can you develop the talent that everyone holds somewhere. In 2014, I graduated from the school as the third best of the year. In addition to the apprenticeship, I studied on weekends and obtained my bachelor’s degree with very good grades. And yet I had practically no previous education before we arrived in Germany. Do I alone deserve the credit for this? Absolutely not. My success is less an individual achievement than more the fruits/outcome of such an environment.
I am just one of many examples that show the importance and worth of not losing hope.
Every stone path is a new opportunity to create new facets/sides of us. If you put them in a common pot without prejudice, something great can come out of it.
This article was written by our employee.