Module 4 — Introduction to Study and Interview Partners
The plight of refugees is an important global issue today on many levels—including humanitarian, social justice, politics/policy and certainly to social work practice. Recognizing this, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) supports research on different areas of resettlement—including in Europe and the US.
This study focuses on refugee resettlement in northern Germany. It specifically addresses the voices of refugees and community-based service providers from Berlin and Schwerin, Germany. We interviewed seven refugees from different countries including Syria, Iran and Afghanistan. Each person had a unique story to share. The service providers include two professionals from educational and training programs, five people from non-profit organizations and three policy makers. Each person gave permission to use their personal stories and experiences, and/or their professional perspectives to enhance understanding of the refugee resettlement process in their communities. Two refugees wanted to remain anonymous. Here is a brief introduction of each person.
1. Asem Alsayjar is 34 years old. He studied mathematics and completed his Master degree in Quality Management Systems in Syria. He writes:
I was Math teacher in Syria and I am now employed with the Education Ministry in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. I have no family yet. I volunteer with an organization that supports integration of refugees in Schwerin, Germany—the city where I live. I am looking forward to learn and develop my skills to be able to support my country after the horrible war. My goal is to help develop the educational system in Syria, and I hope to get support.
2. Ms. A. is a student at Alice Salomon Hochschule, Berlin, Germany who asked to remain anonymous.
3. Mr. B. is a student at Alice Salomon Hochschule, Berlin, Germany who asked to remain anonymous.
4. Ghadia Ramah writes:
I am from Syria where I taught mathematics and informatics. I arrived in Germany in September 2015 with my husband, four sons and one daughter. Since living in Germany, I am taking courses to integrate education and technology and I hope to find work. I love children and I am very happy with my volunteer work at the Arab school. I want to live in peace, honor, and freedom, together with others, in my new home in Schwerin, Germany.
5. Leqaa Alnajjar, writes:
My name is Leqaa Alnajjar, I'm Syrian, I hold a Master degree in Civil Engineering. I worked in the Syrian Ministry of Transportation as a head of bridge management between 2002 and 2016. I have lived in Germany since 2016 and I have finished B1, B2 German language levels and I have participated in C1 but, unfortunately, I haven't passed. I had a job experience in an engineering company in Schwerin for six months and I try to find a new job. I'm a member in Ma'an club and I work in the administration in Sunday School.
6. Salam Soliman is an integration specialist and interpreter with the city administration in Schwerin, Germany. While living in Syria, she studied English Literature. She volunteers as a teacher at the “Sunday School”, a school for refugee children, since 2016. She is married with two children. She writes:
After graduation from college, I worked as a teacher for three years until the war started. I had to leave Syria for another country because of the war. I came to Germany with my family in 2015. Since then I have been trying to start a new life for myself and my family. I learned the German language very well. I try to prove that I am strong and capable. My family helps me a lot. I work with various organizations to help new refugees in Germany, and now I have a job that I like and that suits me. I love to live here because I feel safe and democratic.
7. Rama Akid, from Syria, is 24 years old and has been living in Germany since September 2015. While in Syria, she studied Arabic Language. Currently, she is applying to become a student in a local vocational training program. She volunteers at the “Sunday School” in Schwerin, Germany.
Interviewees: Community Based Service Providers
1. Professor Dr. Bettina Völter is Rector and Professor of Theory and Methods of Social Work at the Alice Salomon Hochschule, Berlin, Germany. She has a degree in Political Science and completed her Ph.D. in 2001 at the Institute of Sociology of the TU Berlin with the dissertation, Judaism and Communism: German family stories in three generations.
2. Hanne Luhdo with the Neighborhood Development Project, Schwerin, Germany is a journalist, community organizer, and human rights activist. She is currently the Chairwoman of the association, “Die Platte Lebt" in Schwerin and helps to “build bridges” between diverse cultures to establish a healthy and vibrant community.
3. Claus Oellerking founded Fluchtlingshilfe and is a member of Miteinander—Ma’ an e.V. He is an economist, educator, freelance journalist and life-coach. He has worked, studied and lived in Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Indonesia, Uganda, Canada and the U.S.. He has traveled to more than 30 countries and writes: “I’ve learned that there are many things in life which connect me with others, way more than setting us apart.”
4. Ulrike Seemann-Katz with the Refugee Council, Schwerin, Germany has a degree in Education and has been the spokeswoman of the German working group Migration and Refugees since 2007. She appreciates the Margaret Mead quote: “Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world—in fact, this is the only way the world has ever been changed”.
5. Kristina Borgwarth is the program director for the Refugee Council, Schwerin, Germany. She provides counseling for refugees and asylum seekers.
6. Dimitri Avramenko, has served as the Integration Specialist in Schwerin, Germany since 2008.
7. Andreas Ruhl received his Master of Business Administration from the University of Wales. He has served as Deputy Mayor of Schwerin and Advisor for Youth, Social Affairs and Culture in Schwerin, Germany since 2015. A focus of his recent work has been the integration of people who have come to Schwerin in recent years.
8. Ulrike Just, Governmental Integration Training Specialist in Schwerin, Germany helps enable new immigrants to get started in the diverse on-site training opportunities by coordinating inter-institutional cooperation of all education-relevant stakeholders. This project has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research since December, 2016.
9. Mario Freytag, Vocational Training Center, Schwerin, Germany has a degree in Business and is the Program Director of the Education and Technology Center, Schwerin. He provides diverse training programs for refugees to help prepare them to enter the job market in Germany.