Geisenheim University is supporting refugees inthe Rheingau, who are capable of studying at a university level, with their linguistic and social integration

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The region of the Rheingau, Germany, German culture, and the weather are some of the topics that Paula Faber and Max Tafel discuss with the refugees, who are participating in the support programs Integra and Welcome at Geisenheim University. The programs, funded by German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) are aimed at helping refugees prepare for their studies in Germany. The steps towards the success of these programs are realised by the International Office, the Language Center, and the Integration Officer of Geisenheim University, Dr. Moustafa Selim. With Integra, the university offers an intensive German course for refugees who received their university entrance certificate (Hochschulzugangsberechtigung) in their home country, or who had even started studying there already. Through Welcome, the refugees learn how to socially integrate themselves in German culture and lifestyle.

Topics varying from ‘how to flirt’ to ‘reimbursement of travel costs’      

dr-moustafa-selim-mit-paula-faber-und-max-tafel“It is important for the refugees to be able to get in contact with young people”, says Paula. The 21-year old has already completed her qualification to work as a voluntary mentor for refugees, with Caritas, and now she is working with the DAAD-project as a student assistant. “We accompany the group on excursions and are available to them for any questions concerning life in Germany”, explains Paula. Her colleague, Max, who is a studying for an M.Sc. in Wine Business at Geisenheim University, adds: “Sometimes they ask us about reimbursement of travel costs, other times I have been asked how one flirts with girls here in Germany.”

Both are amazed how open and trusting the group is. “All they want is to be able to communicate”, says Max. A few weeks ago the refugees took part in an excursion to the Niederwalddenkmal, a local monument, together with the international students of Geisenheim University. “That was a fantastic event where we were able to bring the group into contact with other young people”, Paula exclaims.

“It’s all very nice for us”

ausflug-zum-niederwalddenkmalTo further promote the contact between the group of refugees and other young people, Paula and Max went to the Rüdesheim Christmas Market together with the international students. The group was fascinated by the German traditions and interested in the cultural and culinary atmosphere of German Christmas markets. Sisters Lama and Enes AlShawakh, for example, are very happy to be able to participate in these events and the German course. “It’s all very nice for us”, says Lama, who had been studying textile engineering for four years in her home country of Syria, and wishes to complete her studies here in Germany.

Her younger sister praised the support they get from Paula and Max: “They are very nice and very helpful.” German is not very easy for her, so she learns together with her sister, or she reads German childrens’ books. Her favourite word is “hopefully”. She is hopeful to be able to continue her studies in engineering in a few months, and hopefully she and her family will have a nice and safe future in Germany.

The current 12-week German course Integra at Geisenheim University will be finished in mid-December. By then, the participants should have a B2-level of German – the same level they would have at the end of a six-month integration course. The International Office of Geisenheim University will be applying for Integra and Welcome in 2017, too.


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