That shouldn’t happen often: At the symposium integration of the sponsoring association for youth and social work (TVJS), Geretsried was compared with New York and London. Workshop leader Edwin van Eijbergen said that one as well as the other are cities in which many cultures merge and shape the cityscape through their differences and similarities. The sponsoring association had offered its annual specialist day as a video conference due to the corona. “Lived integration in Geretsried in the past, present and future. Mastering challenges through competence” was the motto under which the participants met virtually on the day of penance and prayer.
“In Geretsried, a city that has offered a home for a multitude of cultures and nationalities since it was founded, this background can sometimes lead to challenges,” said the organizers. The symposium therefore served the understanding of similarities and differences, the recognition of connections and the acquisition of skills in dealing with different norms.
The second mayor Sonja Frank (FW) addressed the admission of refugees since 2012. For her as a volunteer, it is “very often enriching, sometimes even unintentionally funny, but in any case very interesting to come into contact with people from cultures that are foreign to me”. Rudi Mühlhans, managing director of the sponsoring association, thanked the city for supporting the integration work. Hannah Schreyer has been responsible for the Active Integration Coordination Office since September and is supported by Franziska Walter. Schreyer studied European Studies and Politics. For her master’s degree, she focused on migration and asylum policy as well as human rights.
Mühlhans said that he had just seen again how important and at the same time challenging integration is. He jumped in for the study time in a group of open all-day care. Of the 22 participants, almost 90 percent had a migration background. “Each and every one of these students is worth our efforts and that we do everything together with them so that they become happy and successful adults,” said Mühlhans. “Their parents also deserve that we stand up for them together. For whatever reasons they left their home.” For most of them it was probably a difficult step into the unknown, said Mühlhans. Economic hardship, a lack of prospects, persecution or even just the hope for a better life have always made people leave home.
Andreas Kirchner, professor at the Catholic Foundation University in Munich, moderated the symposium. The sociologist Norma Mattarei and Annette Korntheuer, professor for basics and theories of social work at the Catholic University of Eichstätt, provided information about the opportunities that diversity opens up in the population. According to the organizers, the lectures were accompanied by lively discussion groups, which offered the opportunity for exchange and inspiration. The participants reflected on dealing with different cultures; Discussed values, norms and forms of communication and developed approaches and strategies.