by Medien-Referentin Studium, translation by Sophie Alice Schmitt
What does Germany have that Syria does not ? “Here, the food is different, there are a lot of vegetables that I had never seen before”, says 16-year old Ahmed Al Shawakh. “It’s cold”, exclaims his sister Enas. “And in summer, all it does is rain”, adds Ahmed. “Germany has forests, Syria has more deserts.” Ahmed and Enas are two of 16 refugees who have been participating for free in the intensive German course of the Language Centre of Hochschule Geisenheim University since last Monday.
Finishing their education, getting a job, settling in to their new surroundings: for refugees, learning German is vital for the integration in their new home. The Language Centre is helping with this integration by providing this free German course for potential students. “With this offer we, as a scientific teaching and research facility, would like to lay the foundations for an academic education for our participants – which will provide them with better chances of employment in the future”, explains Vice President Professor Otmar Löhnertz.
The refugees, who are mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Kurdistan, have four hoursof German lessons per day in which they learn German grammar and the language from scratch. “We have to learn German to survive here”, states Ahmed. He fled from the Syrian war zone with his mother and three siblings and arrived in the Rheingau eight months ago. By participating in the intensive German course he wants to prepare himself to graduate from school and to start studying: “I want to be a doctor.”With better language skills, his older sister Enas would like to finish her academic studies in Engineering, which she started in Syria.
To date, most of the refugees in Geisenheim and the surrounding area have been learning German on the internet, “By giving them structured lessons and the necessary material we are making sure that our participants do not just learn sentences off by heart. We make them really understand the language”, clarifies course instructor Agi Meisl-Faust. The refugees of the region have the opportunity, not only to participate in the German course, but also use the library at Hochschule Geisenheim for free – which consists mainly of German and foreign-language technical literature.
Ahmed and Enas are happy about having the opportunity to go to the German course and they even like the homework they get. “We want to stay in Germany forever”, says Ahmed. “The Germans are very kind and always smiling.”