“We All Are Refugees”

WHS president Dr. Bernd Kriegesmann welcomes the discussion participants and audience.

It is a fact that the integration of refugees will take years; Europe is just at the beginning of a flood of duties, barriers and – that’s the most important point – opportunities and chances. A current discussion at the Westfälische Hochschule in Gelsenkirchen (WHS), Germany, was called as a reaction on the ongoing changing in the refugee politics. The latest data says that till the end of the continuous years approximately one million refugees will had found their ways to the Federal Republic of Germany. The participants pack out as the central theme how every student can do voluntary services for cities in refugee camps – and also which responsibility an university bears.

The president of the WHS, Dr. Bernd Kriegesmann, focused on this point of departure and remarked that the whole metropolitan area of Ruhr is a construct of migration; and put in a nutshell: “We all are refugees”.

“There is a giant fluctuation in the refugee camp – that’s why it is so difficult to liaise a personal connection”, answered Mr. Georg Müller, assistant of the city of Recklinghausen, at the collegiate question how young people may help refugee families in the long term.

But the help is needed: 30% of all coming refugees in Recklinghausen are younger than 25 years old, many of them underage. “These young people do have special requirements”, added Marcus Kottmann. He is the head for strategic projects in the WHS and discussed the current university system in Germany. “It is frustrating when qualified young Syrians or Pakistani leave their countries in the hope to start a better future. We need to acknowledge the university certificates”. The truth is that in many cases refugees do not have the documents anymore, some of them lost them during the marsh trough the Near East and Europe, others aren’t in possession of the qualification papers – they were destroyed during the war for which reason these people escape from their home countries.

Beate Rafaski, member of the agency for voluntary services in the city of Gelsenkirchen, reminded that every citizen can help – “even if you do speak Arabic, another foreign language or not”. “Pick up some refugees, go into a coliseum and do sports. There you don’t need languages!”, added the student representation, Daniel Kaczor, by presenting a friend’s project where he does exactly this.

The participants marked as a possible solution that universities may invite young refugees to participate in the student daily life: Language tandems, a language cafe or partnerships for classes are a brilliant way to include Germany’s new neighbors.

Written by René Alexander

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