Rafik is a 27-year-old entrepreneur who devotes his life to his two babies: Nouvelle Ecole, his communication agency for businesses, and Hall Culture, for all lovers of reading and culture. We had the opportunity to discuss with him and come back on his journey to understand how he was able to create “J’aime Chère Lire”, the first reading club open to everyone in Lyon.
Rafik was born in Algeria in 1995, in the small town of Tiaret, two and a half hours from Oran, in the west of the country. He grew up in a family neither rich nor poor “, who has always attached importance to education and pedagogy: ” my grandmother was a school principal and my father a teacher“. The desire to learn and curiosity are qualities that very quickly lead Rafik to the CP class at the age of 4. When the other children of his young age take a nap in the afternoon, he is already interested in history, writing, reading and mathematics: ” It’s because I was always stuck in the hands of my grandmother who didn’t know what to do with me so she left me in her class. As her students were older than me, I listened to what she taught them. This allowed me to be two years ahead and to know how to read very early “.
Reading is a central element of his education and he cultivates, even today, the desire to get by through books, education. For him, it started early, and in various forms: “ I also wanted to read early, out of obligation at that age. I read a bit of everything, especially magazines. In Algeria, the problem is that we have very few books, no or few libraries or resources. It’s not like in France. My first memories of “reading” are the magazines my uncle brought me from France. I was a fan of SmallVille and Batman, SuperMan and astronomy “.
The first readings and the family bond
His first “real” book: “Rémi sans famille”, was a wound for this young 8-year-old reader. Forced by his mother’s mother to read it during the holidays despite the television on and friends playing outside, he keeps, with hindsight, very good memories of these 416 pages. Educated with a certain respect for the object that the book represented ” something sacred, respected, institutionalized “, Rafik also discovers education ” French-style with the holiday notebooks his mother sends him every summer. A way to immerse yourself in the history of a country that will soon be his. ” The memory of the “holiday notebooks” that my mother sent me directly from France: I loved it. I was going straight to the page ‘Story’. At 8 years old, I knew all the presidents of the Fifth Republic. I spent hours looking at those books. The lack of culture and activities in Algeria: swimming pools, libraries… forced me to read and made me love reading “.
Born in the midst of civil war that I didn’t really know », Rafik is forced by the course of things to leave his country, his roots, his life in Algeria. He joined his mother in 2005, who left for France a year before him and his brother, in order to obtain the appropriate papers. “ We lived for a year with our grandmother before coming to France. I was born in 1995, during the civil war. It was the “black decade”, there were a lot of deaths. I don’t have any vivid memories of it, especially snippets and what my mother told me. There is a bomb that exploded in front of the school I went to in 2002. I got nothing but it was a trigger“. Arriving in France shortly after the summer of 2005, Rafik and his family settled in the “Gratte-Ciel” district of Villeurbanne, ” where i still live Rafik retorts proudly.
“It’s a joy, because when I arrive in France, I really discover the culture”
In October of the same year, only a few days after his arrival, he entered the French school system. This one is very different from what he had known before. ” I felt a real difference with the Algerian school system, which is focused solely on the school aspect of the term: maths, French, history… Here, a teacher explained to me that there was a dance show, theatre, that we were going to ski class. I discovered films with the “Emile Zola” cinema in Villeurbanne. My first feature film was “Edouard Scissorhands”. I also discovered the François Mitterrand media libraryright next to where I live today. When I was 11/12, I was going to spend every Wednesday afternoon reading comic strips: Sardine from Space, Tintin, Asterix, Tomtom and Nana… It’s a joy, because when I arrive in France, I really discover the culture “.
Her mother, a dentist by profession, had to be content with a job as an assistant at the hospital, for lack of the equivalence to practice her profession here without competitions ” immensely hard according to Rafik.
This woman alone takes care of ” two children with a minimum wage but manages to continue to bring joy to the home, especially through reading. ” We deprived ourselves a lot, but there’s only one thing she never refused me: books. She said to me: ‘Even if we have to ruin ourselves, we will buy books, we will cultivate‘. She subscribed me to the “Journal de Mickey”, which helped me a lot and inspired me to create my own magazine.“.
Fervent defender of French culture
Despite this somewhat poignant story for a child of his age, Rafik believes he had a classic childhood. He was able, very early, to flourish in many places that accompanied him in his transitions from child to teenager until becoming a young man: “ With the MJCs and the social centers, I realized how lucky I was to be in France. We could do a lot of activities: acrobranch, skiing, via ferrata, canoeing… “. At the same time, he is also immersed in an environment where music and cinema are important: “ My mother was a big rock fan and introduced me to her milieu: Sting, The Police (whom I saw in concert afterwards). My father was not very present during my life, but I remember that I went to his house a lot on the weekends. He instructed me on the level of cinematographic culture. We bought movies where we went to stores like OCD. I remember having discovered there “Alien”, “Ripoux against Ripoux”… Nanards of the time »
Fervent supporter of the “French terroir” in all genres: literary with “Bel Ami” by Maupassant, “Candide” by Voltaire or cinematographic with Renoir or Bardat; Rafik defines himself as “a defender of French culture”.