Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Germany for refugees, the information level

In order to answer questions and cover the lack of information about Germany among refugees, and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung released at the end of 2015 a bilingual book - German-Arabic - about Germany. Under the title 'First information for Refugees', it offers in a simple language - I can certify for the German as I am not familiar with different Arabic dialects - basic data about culture, work culture, everyday life, history, rule of law, food and drinking habits, transportation rules etc. It starts with a 'Welcome to Germany' address outlining the need to know the main rules in the society, The reader will learn that Germany is rich in forests, but also that there is a complicated tax system in place. On several occasions it is reminded the Shoah and the negative load of the WWII history. There are offered links about the halal food or circumcision. The authors mentioned that women can find in Germany in stores special outfits such as abbaya or hijab. Different stages of the registration process are also explained.
The readers are informed that beating your wife is not practised in Germany since 1928 and also that bigamy and poligamy are forbidden. Germans have many hobbies and are members of different associations and societies, and among others like to swim or do yoga. During the summer, the reader is told, women do dress light and it is ok. Also couples - gay or heterosexual - may manifest publicly their feelings. This is also ok. 
Talking about culture, it is mentioned that 'The situation of culture was never better'.but also that the role of the media is not only to inform but also to have a critical stance against the government. The readers are warned to avoid downloading illegaly documents from the Internet.
At the chapter regarding cultural habits in Germany, are mentioned, among others: being in time, not being very offensive towards women, respecting the time of rest during the day, not talking loud on the phone. There is also said about how important is to wash your hands but I suppose that the authors forgot the customs of the muslim society. Also at the hygiene part, there is extensively explain how to correctly use the toilet and what not to throw inside. Talking about practice, I suppose you do not have to be a refugee for being informed about that...Many locals also need some training in this respect.
Another important information for refugees: Germans love their cars and may overreact if their car will be scratched. 
At the end of the book, there is a basic vocabulary list. The booklet is also available as app.
How valuable is the information presented here for the refugees? Despite some clumsy approaches, it is useful, at least in the first stage of the journey. However, besides reading, many of the people reaching Germany would need some time to know the culture and the mentality. This cannot be done overnight and books do not always help, but the direct contact with the people and the society as such. 

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