A customer, mid-40s with brown-framed glasses, approaches the reception desk at the magdas HOTEL in Vienna with a question about checking out. Jumana looks up from her monitor and locks eyes with the man, her deep brown eyes emitting the kind of compassion for a customer hotel guests expect at the reception. She stands up, answers his question with her soft voice and a smile, offering to hold onto his bags in case he wants to walk around the city a bit more before he has to depart.
It’s a typical hotel interaction, but the lives of the people behind the desk, cleaning the rooms, and managing the hotel have been anything but ordinary. Two-thirds of magdas HOTEL employees are refugees.
There’s nothing about Jumana that would indicate that she’s had to flee, twice, a war-torn country. She looks like the young woman that she is. After all, nobody looks like a refugee because anyone can be a refugee. The simple fact is that she’s 20-years-old and working in the city with her own aspirations for life like anyone else. It’s not until you talk to her that you start to get the whole story.