Margherita Sgorbissa moved to Berlin 4 years ago. While originally from Italy, she identifies with multiple identity aspects. Equipped with Italian, German and English languages, living in a very international and intercultural city makes her feel she belongs to different spaces in the world.
Currently a Gender Studies Master student at the Humboldt University her main focus, both personally and professionally, is to work with and within communities of womxn to develop project of mutual empowerment and awareness. She describes herself a creative human, who loves writing, theatre, storytelling, and social projects that involve personal expression through creativity. Through her personal mission, she founded the Women Writing Berlin Lab in 2017, a writing community for womxn in Berlin.
What drew you to Berlin?
In 2009 I came here with a school trip and it felt like I was finally finding my place in the world. I have always been attracted to big cities and urban environments. Born and raised in a small town, I was always hungry to do more, see more, have more alternatives and be surrounded by more humans and inputs. At the same time, I didn’t want to be in a fancy, mainstream and overly demanding space. I wanted to be in a place to feel that whatever my personality was, it would have been ok to be who I was. Berlin gave me this impression and I knew, already 10 years ago, that I wanted to live here. After graduating in Italy, learning German and getting some clarity about myself and my plans, I moved to Berlin in 2015!
What is the biggest roadblock you’ve faced professionally? How did you overcome it?
In 2016 I got a new job. I was freaking excited about it! But after only six months things changed drastically. My role wasn’t the same as promised during the interview, but I had no other options so, I had to adapt to new tasks that I didn’t like. I then realized I was completely lost – professionally. I started asking myself about what I really wanted to do, what I was good at and what is a field I’d like to get into. So, I decided to go back to University, enrolled for the Master in Gender Studies and make my dream of working with women a bit more true!
It was a big risk, something I could have never done without the support of Laura, my girlfriend. She is there for me both emotionally and financially and she encouraged me to take this path and move forward with my career.
What is the best advice you have ever gotten?
In a difficult time, in November 2018, overwhelmed by work, University and a sort of existential crisis, I was talking to my sister and she said, “You don’t have to do things because it’s supposed to be cool and right. You have to do things because you like it and it makes you feel happy and full of joy.”
I think this was one of the most powerful advice I’ve ever received, as it reminded me and still reminds me how important it is not to forget about the joy and the happiness that lead our actions, projects and initiatives. If you miss the joy, it doesn’t make any sense anymore!
What inspired you to create the Women Writing Berlin Lab?
I’ve always loved writing and I’ve always known how writing can bring people together. Storytelling and story writing, journaling and written works are powerful strategies to bring people together, build dialogues, learn from real experiences and create empathy among groups. I used to feel alone and isolated two years ago. I was working full time, doing a job I didn’t enjoy so much. I was in a process of changing paths and I needed to go back to the things I felt connected to the most: women and writing. So, I decided to found this group without expecting it to grow and become such a beautiful community. Now, what inspires me to move on with this project are definitely the amazing womxn I met on the way. I am beyond grateful for sharing this experience with them.
Where is your favorite place to visit in Berlin?
I love hanging around Mitte. Especially in the summer, I love to chill at Rosengarten around Rosenthaler Platz. They have water games in the middle of the park and it’s my secret paradise place when it’s too hot and the city is burning. There is a little bar on top of the little hill, a glass of rosé is only 2€ and I could go ahead drinking with friends forever!
Around Rosenthaler Platz there are many places I love: La Premiata Ditta, a cozy Italian Aperitivo Bar, Djimalaya, an Israeli Grill House, many great cafés. I love hanging around Hackescher Markt and Oranienburger Straße as well. When I really want to treat myself, I go shopping, eating and watch a movie around there. Both in winter and summer it’s just a perfect spot to enjoy some urban chic atmosphere!
However, I cannot avoid mentioning how much I am in love with the Schlesisches Tor area as well. I love to walk down Schlesische Straße until the Club der Visionäre, chill in the sun, eating a Falafel right before a beer in the club, after a whole working day. These moments are gems. My reasons to love Berlin more and more!
What do you have in the works for the upcoming year?
My main goal at the moment is to finish my master and focus on the thesis. I really want to finish soon and go back to work full time. I would love to take some sabbatical months at some point to do an experience out of Berlin. South America and Africa are on the top of my list, for now. I would love to engage in social projects around the world and bring some of those learnings back to Berlin.
I would also love to see what’s the potential of the WWBL to turn into a more extensive womxn’s collective and see if there is space for a larger social project!