How can we bring people from different cultures together?
It’s hard to look at the bigger picture. Especially in everyday life, when the normal scheduled flow leaves little room for the unfamiliar wider world. Integration and how we interact with refugees and migrants are topics that are now more important in Germany and Europe than they ever have been before. We need to open ourselves up.
Ninon agrees. A year ago, the 24-year-old Berliner founded the “Über den Tellerrand kochen” (“Cooking Outside the Plate”) project because she found that “the issue of asylum was often talked about in terms of problems and political decisions, rarely addressing the people who want to start a new life here in Germany.” Ninon wants to give people living as asylum seekers in Germany a face and foster exchanges with locals through collective cooking workshops and a cookbook with recipes and stories from refugees.
The under-25 generation, so everyone born after 1989, shares similar views to Ninon’s and really delivers when asked the question, “How can we integrate people from other cultural backgrounds?”, providing constructive suggestions about how integration could work.
After all, they grew up in a world that had just broken free of barriers, borders, and walls.
The comment Dodi, 19, left is paradigmatic: “Don’t think about the differences. Instead think of what we have in common. After all, you’ll find a lot more common ground!”
Where do you look to find common ground? One way is through “cooking, dancing, sports, and music.” Activities that promote a sense of community and establish common emotions and goals. We saw a lot of comments that proffered the same sentiment.
Rebecca, 20, is representative of many of her peers, writing: “Education and common ground are the greatest tools for integration! Take on the entire thing as a project and grow (together) in the process.”
Generation25 wants diverse preschool and school classes, and for cultural and ethical studies to be taught instead of religion. A kind of sensitisation to be taught from an early age:
“Integration should begin in early education, in preschools and in schools,” says Reijan, 21.
The most important buzzwords, “acceptance, tolerance, and respect” are seen again and again, spanning all the comments and generations. But it’s primarily Generation25 that’s talking about open-mindedness, courage, and integration as both an opportunity and an adventure for both sides. Its image of cultural interconnectedness rejects imposed cultural, religious, and geographical affiliations. “Every person is unique.” And: “We are all human.”
Generation25 has understood a very important point: “Not integration – diversity! Integration indicates that a base culture remains the yardstick of one’s existence.” (Daniel, 25) These kinds of statements bring us hope and provide us with strength for the future.
For Generation25, integration is an objective that begins with small, everyday gestures. Gestures that are easily forgotten because everything moves so quickly: a smile or a friendly “Hello” or “Welcome.” Germany is no longer a homogeneous country. It is diverse and multicultural. Germany now needs positive voices and needs ideas on how we can promote integration to be put it into practice.
Young Germans have long since understood that a multifaceted life is not only possible, but should be a living reality – and hopefully their open-mindedness will soon spread across Germany.