How my day at the Integrationsmesse in Berlin turned out to be a linguistic adventure.
On September 8th, I attended an Integrationsmesse (Integration Fair) at the Flüchtlingszentrum Berlin Mertensstraße (Refugee center) in Spandau, organized by the Berliner Stadt Mission and the staff at this Refugee center.As Visioneers e.V. volunteers, our goal was to introduce Visioneer’s e.V. weekly activities and mentorship programs to the people living at this center and to encourage refugees as well as volunteers to become involved.
Visioneers e.V is one among many initiatives in Berlin that were founded in the past year to support refugee´s integration.
Our table neighbored a dozen of other tables, offering similar yet also very different programs based on job integration, skill building, and overall community support for transitioning into a Berlin life.
We informed visitors on Visioneer´s e.V. weekly programs, like the German lessons, Homework Group, Sewing Workshop, and Guitar Lessons.
I met so many different and interested people that day from all over the world. Ranging from eight-year olds to parents and grandparents, I was able to listen and share with many great German speakers, many of whom had just started to learn German in the past months. Those few adults who I was unable to find a mutual language bridge, were able to grab their kids to translate. Many of the children are enrolled in German courses at the refugee center, and I was very impressed with their extensive vocabularies and correct use of German grammar. I learned that everyone’s first languages included: Pashto, Dari, Russian, and Arabic. My first language is English, as I come from the United States. I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d be using more English or German throughout this day, and I really didn’t know what to expect at all!
I can conclude in saying that only one person preferred English, and that the day was extremely successful and exciting, because every man, woman, girl and boy I met, opened a door and shared brief, fleeting yet amiable moments with me, auf Deutsch - bridging our initial language barrier.