Immigration Has Many Faces
Many different kinds of people immigrate to Germany each year. Their reasons for leaving their home countries are as varied as their life stories.
Understanding takes time
Enlarge image Doctoral candidate at the Fraunhofer Institut: Agu Agustian (© Federal Ministry of the Interior) When Agu Agustian received an offer years ago from a leading German company to write his doctoral dissertation in Germany, he didn’t hesitate. After graduating from university in Indonesia, he had specialized in production management and managed a variety of projects in industry. Now Agu Agustian is a research engineer at the Fraunhofer Institut in Berlin, where he develops software to support regional cooperation between large and small companies.
“You have to realize that understanding takes time,” Agu Agustian recommends to anyone getting to know a different culture. Because he likes listening to people, he has learned a lot about the German mentality, and he truly feels at home here. Along with the professional challenges of his research, he now has family ties in Germany. Listening to others is important, whether at work with his colleagues or in dealing with everyday life. Agu Agustian relaxes after work by playing blues guitar.
To Germany via Hegel
Enlarge image Well-read in two cultures: Dr. Sandra Carreras (© Federal Ministry of the Interior) With her academic interest in the history of German philosophy, Sandra Carreras was already familiar with the German language and culture. But she never imagined leaving her home in Argentina to live in the country of poets and philosophers – until she met her future husband, then a visiting professor in Buenos Aires.
Since arriving in Germany in 1987, Sandra Carreras has worked at various universities. At the moment she organizes scientific conferences for the Ibero-American Institute in Berlin and edits an international academic journal. Over the years, her identification with Germany has become stronger: “There were certain flashes of awareness, such as the moment I really started to care about German issues.” Sandra Carreras has become a German citizen and can hardly imagine returning to Argentina to live. But once a year, South America calls, and she spends a few weeks in Argentina.
From the Volga to Marzahn
Enlarge image Alexander Reiser makes immigrants feel at home in his neighborhood (© Federal Ministry of the Interior) Ever since their persecution during World War II, the Volga Germans have not really been at home in Russia. And when there was little hope of a secure future for this ethnic minority even after the Iron Curtain fell, Alexander Reiser decided that “the most sensible thing to do was to go somewhere else.” He left Vladivostok in 1996 and has since lived in Germany with his family.
Although trained as a journalist, Alexander Reiser works as a neighborhood manager in the Berlin district of Marzahn, where numerous immigrants live, especially ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe. Alexander Reiser helps initiate cultural and social activities, making it easier for others to become integrated within their new country, something he has done successfully. But he hasn't severed all ties to his Russian past: He hopes to start teaching his daughter Russian soon (“she has already mastered the Berlin dialect”) and is planning a trip to Vladivostok.
A house with different rooms
Enlarge image Politically involved: Arfasse Gamada (© Federal Ministry of the Interior) In 1979, Arfasse Gamada and her family fled their home in Oromia, Ethiopia, for political reasons. They came to Germany, where she had once spent six years, supported by various scholarships. In the meantime, she earned a university degree in psychology and now works as a desk officer at the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin.
“I see Germany as a house with different rooms,” Arfasse Gamada explains. “In some rooms I have found respect and interesting challenges. Here, living among people from different cultures is the rule rather than the exception.” But in other rooms, people feel insecure because of their background and skin color. Making these areas safer and more acceptable has become Arfasse Gamada's political mission. She is committed to supporting self-help organizations and fostering empowerment and participation among female immigrants and people of color. And she has a special wish: “I would like to see an effective anti-discrimination law passed in Germany.”
Source: Federal Ministry of the Interior
To read this article in German, please click on the following link: "Zuwanderung hat viele Gesichter"