Summary About Project

You are new to Germany or have been here longer and want to get to know your new home better? We know how confusing it can be to learn a new language and to find your place within a new society.

For this reason we deliver practical and cross-cutting information about the life in Germany during our 2-day Orientation Seminar in Arabic. The seminar gives impulses for discussion and reflection of different world views and sets of values.

Under the project name „Almanya auf Arabisch“ (Almanya in Arabic) – in collaboration with the Verband Deutsch-Syrischer Hilfsvereine e.V. (VDSH) in Berlin and the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) – we are implementing informational seminars and cultural education for refugees. Twice a month we organise a 2-day Seminar for refugees from the Arabic-speaking region, ages 16 and older.

The project Almanya auf Arabisch is funded by The Federal Ministry of Interior of Germany.

  • Regional studies and intercultural sensibilization
  • System of education and work
  • Dealing with authorities and offices
  • Challenges in everyday life in Germany

Activities Implemented Under This Project

First 3-Days Seminar at Dresdnderstr. 59 in Leipzig

As part of the project „Almanya in Arabic – seminars for refugees about the life in Germany“, DOZ e.V. organized the first three-day seminar from December 1 to 3, 2017 at Dresdner59 in Leipzig. The lecturer Samer Assaf is from Syria himself and has broad experiences in integration work due to his work as psychologist and therapist.

The first day started with a short introduction of the participants, where they explained their reasons for coming and which topics they are especially interested in. This was followed by a discussion about challenges of integration in Germany. After the lunch break, the lecturer gave some basic information about Germany and also left lots of space for questions and discussion so that a lively discussion could emerge about the topics geography, population, society, economy, and history, especially about the GDR and reunification of Germany. Eventually the group talked about similarities and differences between western and middle-eastern societies and about the question of how to integrate themselves into the German society.

The second day was opened by a collection of ideas about the meaning of integration. The presence of a German made it possible to draw interesting comparisons between the different opinions. The next topic were social relationships in Germany and the participants’ home countries. How are the societies structured? What kind of cohesion exists in a German family? Which rights to women and children have? What are differences in raising children? This day ended with a comparison of German customs and habits with those of the Middle East.

On the third day, the participants got to leave the seminar room and go to the city center of Leipzig. Led by the pedagogue Andie Rutzen, the group dealt with the topic “Peaceful Revolution of 1989 in Leipzig” and visited important historic places like the St. Nicholas Church (Nikolaikirche).

Second 2-Days Seminar in Leipzig

On December 16 and 17 DOZ e.V. organized the second Welcome Seminar as part of the Project „Almanya in Arabic“, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and sponsored by the Verband Deutsch-Syrischer Hilfsvereine e.V.

Day 1:

After introducing the project, the participants introduced themselves and shared difficulties they have experienced as “new-comers” in Germany. This was very useful for tailoring the seminar topics according to individual needs. The participants also shared their opinions about requirements for successfully integrating oneself into German society.

Subsequently, the lecturer gave some basic information about Germany’s geography, economy, society, languages, religions and the political system, followed by a short overview of German history starting at World War I.

Then, the gathered information about Germany was compared with the participants’ countries of origin. Everybody was able to share their opinion and thereby contributed to a very productive discussion.

Day 2:

The second day started with a discussion about the term “integration” with the objective of finding a common definition. This led to the question: How can I integrate myself and adapt to German rules and norms, without losing my own identity and culture?

The next topic were social relationships. How can I build relationships in a completely new society with a culture and traditions that are unknown to me? The participants very openly shared examples from their lives and made comparisons with their home societies.

Another topic that was very important to the participants was how to learn German, since the majority of participants have not lived in Germany very long. What helps them to learn? Which difficulties do they encounter?

In order to close the day in a playful way the board game “Leben in Deutschland – Spielend integrieren” was introduced. It delivered additional important information to the participants.

During the entire seminar the lecturer used different strategies and vivid methods of cultural education. This facilitated an open exchange of opinions and encouraged the participants to give constructive feedback.

Specialization Seminar at DOZ Office in Leipzig

On December 13, 2017 DOZ e.V. organized an „Almanya in Arabic“-specialisation seminar. On that Wednesday evening DOZ-members and 9 further interested people came to the DOZ office at Shakespearestr. 18 in Leipzig to deal with important questions about the German school system. The lecturer Eva explained the different types of schools like elementary school, secondary school, and grammar school. Furthermore, the group talked about tasks and duties of students and about the relationship between parents and teachers.

Because many participants showed a strong interest in studying at a University, the seminar was enhanced by this topic. The lecturer explained the requirements for and the way of applying for University.

The participants were very grateful for this seminar and wished for more events of this kind.

Third 2-Days Seminar in Lindenau, Leipzig

The third „Almanya in Arabic“ Seminar took place on January 9 and 11 at a language school in Leipzig-Lindenau. This time the group consisted mainly of women and only two men. This caused an exciting group dynamic. The lecturer managed to create a very familiar atmosphere, where everyone could openly share their honest opinions and thereby contribute to a lively discussion. This was possible due to diverse methods and topics as well as funny anecdotes by the lecturer.

After a short presentation of German history, economy, politics and society the participants were animated to become active themselves and to share their opinions. This is how an inspired exchange arose about topics like recycling, public transportation, authorities, rules of conduct, raising children and learning German.

A highlight of the second day was a bingo game to playfully get to know each other better.

The third day was meant to help the group grow closer together, to do something together and to get to know Leipzig. So in the morning of January 12 the whole group was invited to a stroll around city center and to learn something about the “Peaceful Revolution of 1989”.

The seminar was received very positively by the participants.

Specialization Seminar on German School System

Oh, what a complicated German school system… – Almanya in Arabic on January 24, 2018

The first Month of 2018 was packed with many exciting seminars with lots of fascinated participants.

One of these was the Specialization seminar about the German School System on January 24th. Around 10 interested parents were able to share own school experiences they made in their countries of origin. Afterwards these experiences were compared to the German school system. The lecturer managed to vividly explain this very complicated school system and to demonstrate the various educational paths that are open for children and young adults. Possibilities of going to University or to complete a professional training were also discussed.

The participants enjoyed discussing this topic and asked lots of questions, which shows a large interest in the topic. One question that was posed was how to better support their children in learning German. The lecturer’s advice to turn the TV to a German program was received as very helpful.

Coming Together Through Language

An exciting week for “Almanya in Arabic” – January 22 and 25, 2018

This week was very exciting for our „Almanya in Arabic“ – Team, since it was packed with seminars full of interesting topics and discussions with the participants. On January 22 and 25 a group of people came together, who just started learning German. On these two days we met at their language school in Leipzig-Lindenau and spent the afternoons with lively discussions and practical advice for the life in Germany.

One participant said, that he liked the seminar very much, because he received lots of new information. What caught his attention the most was the German school system and the relationships between teachers, children, and parents.

Feminism in Germany, What is Feminism?

What is important to know about the feminist movement in Germany? Which rights have been fought for? Which achievements were made? Which obstacles do women and men still have to conquer in German society?

This specialization seminar on January 30, 2018 gave an insight into the topic and also dealt with the question: What distinguishes the German feminism from the Arabian feminism and even more importantly: What connects them?

During the seminar the participants – male and female – could share their experiences. Some information was surprising, for example that women and men were declared legally equal less than 60 years ago.

Feminism, What Does It Mean For Women?

Because the previous Specialization Seminar about Feminism left many interesting discussions unfinished, we decided to continue the topic on February 9th, 2018 in our Leipzig office in Shakespearestr. 18. The participants were very interested in meeting again in order to dive deeper into the topic. Particularly strong was the wish for specific recommendations, how Arab men and women can live in Germany. We discussed problems, with which couples might be confronted in Germany and how to deal with them. Furthermore, we shared opinions about the meaning of marriage, gender roles, and raising children.

Eventually the lecturer concluded with an overview of achievements in relation to women’s rights and gender equality, but also of problems that still have to be tackled.

Happy Valentine Day

We used this year’s Valentine’s Day to invite a group of 16 Arabic speaking men, women, and children to talk about personal relationships, about potential problems between couples as well as between parents and children. However, we also talked about the freedom that couples have in Germany.

Furthermore the participants received important information about studying and working in Germany. One participant was very thankful for the practical advice, which will help him to plan his next steps in Germany. He mentioned that he had never before found information so precise. So far the German language presented the biggest obstacle in this regard.

Norms, Values and Cultural Diversity in Germany

On February 23rd, DOZ e.V. organized a Specialization Seminar as part of the project “Almanya in Arabic” at the office at Shakespearestr. 18 in Leipzig. It dealt with the topic of norms, values and cultural diversity. Due to the method of the “Value-Square” it was possible to find a playful access to partially controversial topics. The participants received sheets of paper with sentences written on them, e.g. “At the cinema I turn off my phone.” They were then asked to pin these sentences to the board where a “Value-Square” had been drawn. First, they decide whether they agree or disagree with their sentence and second, they decide whether they want everyone to think the same way or they accept other opinions about the topic. Afterwards several sentences and their position on the board were discussed and they could also be moved around. Meanwhile interesting discussions developed surrounding topics like raising children, sex before marriage, language, social interaction with neighbors and many more.

Culture and Life in Germany

This week we visited the German Red Cross – Refugee Home in Eutritzscher Straße in Leipzig and held a seminar for the Arab speaking residents. They were especially interested in the topics of apartment- and job search. However, they also wished for advice how to receive a permanent residence permit and the German citizenship. So we covered the corresponding requirements. We talked about how to find a job and about possibilities to learn German. Furthermore, the participants and the lecturer exchanged ideas and experiences about social relationships, family life, and raising children in Germany and in the Arabian region.

Peaceful Revolution in Leipzig 1989, Germany

In the course of the project „Almanya in Arabic – Seminars about Life in Germany for Refugees” Andrea Rutzen hosted another excursion about the Peaceful Revolution and the Role of the Church in the former GDR this week. Therefore we visited St. Nicholas Church as well as Leipzig University and its Augusteum. The numerous participants were both, thankful and very curious, and easily detected similarities between the history of the GDR and the events in their home country Syria.

News from „Almanya in Arabic“

On April 10 and 12, 2018 another “Almanya in Arabic” seminar about life and culture in Germany took place. This time around 15 inhabitants of a refugee home in the northeast of Leipzig. The first day gave an overview of German history, economy, politics, culture, and society. The participants enriched this presentation by asking various questions and by making comparisons with their countries of origin. This led to a very exciting discussion. At the end of this first day, the participants could not wait to continue on Thursday. Then there was more time and room for specific issues the participants are dealing with at the moment. These included mainly apartment search, receiving a residence permit as well as family matters, like raising and educating children.

Thereafter, we used the opportunity to talk to a few participants privately, so that they could share the personal experiences and opinions about the seminar:

A participant from Damaskus, Syria, said:

“It is great to deal with Germans and to learn from them, because they are good people and very nice. And we are grateful because they welcomed us to their country at a time when other countries did not.”

She added:

“We benefited from the ‘Almanya in Arabic’ seminars and received a lot of new information that we did not know before […] I hope that these seminars will continue. The most interesting in the seminar was how to live in this country, how to find access to education for children, and how to defend our rights.”

Getting along in German Society in Plagwitz, Leipzig

On April 17 and 18, 2018, DOZ e.V. held an “Almanya in Arabic” Seminar about Life and Culture in Germany in a refugee home in Leipzig-Plagwitz. For only a few families are living there, we were working in a small, informal group, where there was room for everyone’s concerns and questions. Furthermore, the lecturer mastered an impressive balancing act between four languages or dialects: German, Arabic, Soran, and Kurmanc  After a short introduction in German history, politics, and economy, the participants could get to know each other better during a get-to-know bingo game. They were especially interested in cultural and social topics: Which behavioral rules do I have to follow in Germany? How do I build a good relationship with my neighbors? How do I find friends in school? Most of the participants have arrived to Germany a short time ago, which is why for them these questions about social relationships had a high priority. On the second day we also dealt with the question which advantages an official job has compared to an illegal job and how it can help to receive a residence permit or to find an apartment.

Seminar about Apartment Search and Learning German

On 7 and 8 of May 2018 we met with a group from a language school in Leipzig-Lindenau. This group consisted mainly of Women, who have arrived to Germany just a few months ago. At the beginning of the seminar the lecturer asked the participants about their interests and needs in order to address these in the coming seminar.

Therefore the focus was put on finding an apartment and learning German. Besides the group dealt with cultural topics from their everyday lives by finding differences and similarities between the German society and those of their countries of origin. They talked about possibilities to get along in German everyday life, to respect social manners, without neglecting their own cultural backgrounds.

Following, the participants thanked the DOZ Team for this seminar and wished to visit more seminars of this kind in order to receive enough information for finding their path as “New Germans” within this new society.

Useful Websites and Apps for Daily Life in Germany

This Almanya in Arabic Specialization Seminar dealt with the topic “Useful Websites and Apps in Germany”. Two experienced lecturers came to our DOZ-Office at Shakespearestr. 18 in Leipzig to talk about various websites with a group of interested people. There are many websites that can facilitate everyday life in Germany. These include websites and apps for public transportation, like Deutsche Bahn, Easy Go, Blablacar, and Flixbus, but als Websites for learning German, like Deutsche Welle (DW), and others like Ebay Kleinanzeigen. The participants also had the opportunity to present websites they know and share them with the group.

Apartment Search, Work, Culture and Everyday Life In Germany

On May 14 and 17, 2018, we met again with a group of people who were learning German in Leipzig-Lindenau. Most of them were women, who had just arrived to Germany.

At the beginning, the lecturer asked about the interests and potential problems, the participants might have and want to talk about during the seminar.

How to receive or renew the current residence permit? The majority of the participants came to Germany due to the right of family reunification and a few others do not have a residence permit yet.

How to move to another city?

How to find an apartment? This question was once again one of the biggest difficulties encountered by people just arriving to Germany. Therefore, volunteer members of DOZ e.V., who also participated, presented several websites and apps that could be useful for the apartment search.

Furthermore, we talked about cultural topics of everyday life by comparing the German and Middle Eastern societies, as well as the social rules that one has to follow in a new society.

Eventually, the participants thanked us for the seminar and wished for more activities of this kind, where they can receive more useful information

University, Study, and Professional Life in Germany

On June 20 and 21, 2018, we met again with a group of German-students in Leipzig-Lindenau for an “Almanya in Arabic” Seminar. The participants were all men, who have not been in Germany for a long time and who are just learning German on an A1/A2 level.

During the seminar we talked about general information about Germany, like demography, religion, and recent German history, for example about the Second World War and the Peaceful Revolution in Leipzig.

The lecturer gave information about differences in residence permits, language courses, and different language levels. Various possibilities for entering university and professional life were introduced and discussed. Besides, the participants talked about their problems with language and integration and the lecturer gave them advice accordingly. It became apparent, that there are insufficient contact points for refugees where they can ask questions about integration, and that there is a lot of frustration with the German bureaucracy and Job Center.

However, the participants were happy about the information they received from DOZ and they were very interested in joining further activities by DOZ, such as the “Almanya” excursion to Dresden on June 23, 2018.

Closing Activity – Excursion to Dresden, Germany

On Saturday, June 23, 2018, Almanya in Arabic did not take place in a class room. Instead DOZ organized an exciting trip to Dresden, the state capital of Saxony, Germany. Some of the participants had already joined us for an Almanya Seminar before, but there were also some new faces.

In the morning we took the train from Leipzig to Dresden. Once we arrived there, our guides led the group of 17 people through the Old Town of Dresden. Despite the grey sky, the group got a very good impression of the beautiful architecture and history of the Old Town. We visited the “Frauenkirche”, the New Synagoge, the Residence Castle, and strolled along the banks of the river Elbe and along the old town wall.

In order to counter the following exhaustion, we went to a pizzeria for an extensive lunch.

Strengthened and relaxed we continued to the German Hygiene Museum, which has a great exhibition about “Racism. The Invention of Human Races”. This exhibition demonstrates the harmful power that this scientific invention of the “human races” has had since the 18th century. Furthermore, it addresses the politics of racial exploitation in the colonial period (displayed in human zoos or ethnological expositions). The aftereffects extend to our present society, in the form of everyday racism, among other things. Therefore, this topic was of special interest for us and very suitable for this excursion.

The End

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