While a flurry of snow threatens to fall outside at any moment, Sanaw, a 30-year-old Kurdish Christian from western Iran, is proudly describing his involvement in a nativity play over Christmas.
He holds court at a table of eight fellow refugees, explaining in coherent German how the local theatre group, of which he has only been a member for a matter of months, has helped to improve his sense of belonging in Cologne, his home city for just over a year.
“Even though I’m living in a refugee camp, I was able to interact with a few locals,” he says, as the group listen intently. “And I was also able to learn German without doing a course.”
Sanaw, a graphic designer who ran his own agency back home, is one of the growing number of users of Cologne Public Library’s sprachraum (language space).