Since the fall of Berlin
wall in 1989, the face of Berlin has changed dramatically. The city that once was a symbol of division become a German synonym for unity, diversity and openness. Today the streets of Berlin are
filled with multitudes of music, foods, fashions and accents and some proudly compare the city’s free and high-paced life style to that of New York. Others, on the other hand, point out that
under the veneer of Berlin’s cultural diversity lies everyday casual racism, xenophobia and a deeply rooted mistrust of Germans towards everything non-German. The culture of Berlin is still
strikingly white, monolingual and rigid. Such perceptions challenge Berlin’s supposed cultural openness and its self-image as a global metropolis. Apart from those who have embraced Berlin’s
diversity or plea for more of it, a sizeable minority of Germans fears recent demographic changes and worries about the “disappearance" of German culture.
Amidst these contestations about cultural identity, in 2015 Germany took in more than one million refugees from Syria and the Middle East. About 40,000 of them settled in Berlin, which instantly expanded the city’s diversity pool made of Turkish, Russian, Jewish, Arab, African and Asian communities. Today Berlin is a home to more than 130,000 migrants from all over the world. One third of Berliners have migration background, half of its school children population are offspring of immigrants and by 2030 almost one third of Berlin’s workforce will retire from the labor market.
These developments pose challenges to the city but they also provide new opportunities for incoming migrants. At the Center for Integration Solutions we are interested in issues that migrants and refugees face while settling down in Berlin, how they tackle them and whether they feel at home here. Our research focuses on the respondents’ perceptions, assessments and understandings of their new life situations, the German way of life and their own prospects in Germany. Although we collect some statistical data through our surveys, our research is mainly qualitative and is focused on testimonies, in-depth interviews and non/participant observations.
We will continue our research studies and are excited to share the findings through our website and disciplinary journals.
Dr. Jaroslava Gaidosova-Lisker
Cultural Readjustments of New Migrants to Berlin
In 2018, Center for Integration Solutions carried out a survey about career plans of young refugees in Berlin. We asked 118 respondents from eight Middle Eastern countries about their educational backgrounds, future plans and main challenges that they face in Germany. Most of the respondents were male adults (25 to 35) who, at the time of the survey, were seeking enrollment in colleges or vocational schools in Berlin. The questionnaire was in German and the follow-up interviews with 11 respondents were conducted in German and English.
Respondents total: 118
Countries of origin: Afghanistan, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Syria
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