What shapes our cultural identity

How am I culturally shaped myself?

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The first step to a good understanding of refugees is to become aware of your own cultural glasses. How am I culturally shaped and how does that influence my behavior? How do other people live, feel and act? In this lesson you will get tips on how to bring refugees closer to our cultural customs, as well as insights into how refugees perceive Germany.

“‘ Culture ‘hides more than it shows. And what it hides, strangely enough, it hides best from its own members. Years of studying have convinced me that the real task is not to understand foreign cultures, but to understand your own. ”- Edward T. Hall, American anthropologist and ethnologist.

The first step in understanding other cultures better is to become familiar with your own cultural glasses to become aware and to know that we are also viewed through cultural glasses. Intercultural learning therefore not only aims at dealing with other cultures, but also always with the question: How am I actually culturally shaped? Where do my attitudes and my understanding of values ​​come from and how do they influence my behavior? In contrast, only when you have located yourself in your own culture can you understand how and why other people live, think, feel and act differently.

Which groups do you feel you belong to?

Do you have your church group, your sports or music club, your work as a social pedagogue or your group of friends in mind? What do your cultural background and your understanding of values ​​have to do with your commitment to refugees?

How do you tick

“And the end of all exploration will be that we arrive where we left.And recognize this place for the first time. "(T.S. Eliot, poet)

We are all influenced by belonging to different cultural groups. One factor that shapes us is our nationality. But what do we actually mean when we speak of “typically German”? Does that even exist? “Germany is a country with many cultures and subcultures. There are different age cultures, religious cultures, leisure cultures, professional cultures, gender cultures, social milieus, political cultures, regional cultures etc. Many of these cultures also extend beyond the borders of Germany. All of these ... [subcultures] ... in turn enrich the national culture, enrich it with words, ideas and values ​​and are in turn strongly influenced by the national culture, the German language, the national ... [debates] etc. "(from : http://kulturshaker.de/deutschland-transkulturell/)

In the study “Germany Postmigrant I - Society, Religion, Identity”, the following characteristics were stated as typically German among the respondents. Do you recognize yourself in these qualities?

Which characteristic best describes this country for you? (Copyright: excerpt from the study "Germany postmigrant", page 22)

These Stereotypes are familiar to all of us, as they play a role in public life and in the societal view of “the Germans”. It is expected that the bus will arrive exactly to the minute, that you stick to the agenda in meetings, that you can rely on the word of others, and overtime at work is a welcome sign of motivation and willingness to perform. How every single person reacts to and deals with these values ​​and habits that influence our public life is very different.

Our society is in constant change and thus our view of “the Germans” is changeable and negotiable: “For years the Germans were… proud of their hard work, their punctuality, their accuracy and frugality. Then ... a new story emerged: The cosmopolitan, enjoyable German was born, who also lets five be straight ... Germany needs a new ... [story] ... [which] is based on the new facts. " (Naika Fourutan, social scientist)

You can find more about how you can deal with stereotypes and prejudices in "How do I perceive refugees? About dealing with stereotypes and prejudices“.

We are so diverse

We all know common stereotypes and prejudices about Germans. Refugees also come with pictures of "The Germans" in the head. As volunteers, you are often the first contact for refugees and are seen as “representatives” for the people in Germany. It can also be your job to show refugees how diverse Germany is and to refute common stereotypes and prejudices about “the Germans”.

Contrary to what is often perceived, Germany is a traditional country of immigration. There has always been migration in the area of ​​what is now the Federal Republic of Germany. According to the research report by Karakayali / Kleist, 22.5% of Germans have a migration background - the proportion of volunteers with a migration background in refugee work is even slightly higher at 24% - and a third of the population has someone with a migration background in their relatives (from study “Germany postmigranitsch I - society, religion, identity”). So it has long been a social reality that we are a migrant republic - and not just since 2015.

“German society has changed a lot as a result of migration. More and more people claim that citizens of this country help to shape this change, even if their ancestors were not German and they themselves may not look like the Germans used to imagine. That also means that the brand core "Germany" is being renegotiated. "(Naika Fourutan, social scientist)

How do refugees see Germany?

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When refugees come to Germany, they perceive very different things as new, strange, remarkable or exciting. In the article "Refugees show what they associate with Germany”You will find other things that refugees have in common with Germany: whether it is rubbish bins for plastic, older people on bicycles, stable houses, punctual buses or candles to light in church - what refugees notice always says something about their own experiences and impressions in their country of origin.

What do refugees see in Germany as a place of refuge? According to a study, refugees identify strongly with values ​​such as freedom, the rule of law, religious freedom and family values. Against the background of the negative experiences with war and terror as well as with ethnic and religious persecution in their home countries, they value Germany's respectful dealings with one another and respect for human rights. They appreciate the community-oriented behavior of the German population, the democratic conditions with clear, generally applicable rules and a functioning bureaucracy, and they would like the same for their country of origin. However, there are also differences in the understanding of values, such as gender roles.

How can I bring refugees closer to the cultural customs of Germany?

For refugees, many questions arise about everyday situations: How do I greet other people? Why do I have to be on time? How do I deal with openly expressed criticism? What is the supper? Can I just drop by people spontaneously and unannounced? Provide help with large and small questions and refer to help and materials. ·

We have the change of perspective for you in “Other cultures - what do we have in common? What makes us different?" prepared. In this lesson you will get an insight into the cultural habits of the Arab world.

Further material

Youtube channel "German Life Style GLS“The Syrian refugees Allaa and Abdul.

Podcasts on “What is typically German?” Foreign correspondents report on their view of German waste separation, emancipation, reliability, neighbors, offices.

On the website "Media service integration“You will find essential information on the topics of migration, intagration and asylum.

Meike Woller, Qualified social economist, is a trainer for intercultural competence and global learning. She has led various projects on the subject of "integration" and carries out intercultural training for people who work with refugees.

Unless otherwise indicated, the content in the vhs volunteer portal is subject to the license CC BY SA 4.0.

Learn more

Important note: If you click on this link, content from the following channel will be displayed and connections to the respective servers will be established.

The DVV e.V. does not adopt the websites of third parties accessible via links and is not responsible for their content. The DVV e.V. has no influence on which of your personal data is processed on this page. You can find more information on this in the data protection declaration of the provider of the external website.

Contents of the following channel are displayed:
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