Diversity connects across all of Germany
2018-12-01 14:10:28 -
Opinion
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By Stefanie Igel

 

Do you want to visit Germany in a different way, and see how multicultural Berlin can be?

Indeed, the German capital is a very cosmopolitan and tolerant city, with so many different cultures represented.

For example, the districts Neukoelln and Kreuzberg are more generally known as Little Istanbul. Berlin has the largest concentration of Turkish people outside of Turkey, with a population of some 200,000.

Every Tuesday and Friday a big market takes place in this district. You can also visit the Turkish-Islamic Sehitlik Mosque, which is the most visited mosque in all of Germany.

Also a visit worth, is the Haus der Kulturen, or House of Cultures,  founded in 1989 – the same year the Berlin Wall came down. This arts centre specialises in exhibitions, film screenings, conferences and workshops with a focus on non-European cultures. Most recently it displayed archive materials rescued by activists and artists during the Arab Spring revolutions — making a repository of memory, mourning and forgotten stories.

The largest Asian community in Berlin is the Vietnamese, a legacy of the pre-1989 Communist connection. The most of them live in the former East Berlin, in areas like Lichtenberg. Vietnamese people have been travelling to Germany for study since the 1950s, and the number of Vietnamese students grows every year.

One Vietnamese immigrant in Berlin, named Nguyen van Hien, founded the Dong Xuan Center for entrepreneurs in the Vietnamese community to sell their own products in one place.

The centre comprises a large and colourful market in an old warehouse complex, were you can find all types of Asian food or gadgets and even hair stylists, nail salons and every thing else a Vietnamese person in Germany may need.

Every year Berlin celebrates its Carnival of Cultures, a multicultural festival in the district Kreuzberg held since 1996. The festival includes parades, music and theatre events and is a life-affirming demonstration of cultural diversity. With around one million visitors each year, the carnival counts as one of the biggest festivals in Germany.

Looking beyond Berlin, it’s not hard to see that the whole of Germany is multicultural, too. The annual Intercultural Week is a statement for human rights, democracy and diversity, and it’s proven by the impressive, varied and numerous local programmes with some 5,000 events taking place in more than 500 cities, towns and villages across the country.

The motto of 2018’s Intercultural Week is “diversity connects” and in a  growing climate of fear of immigration, it couldn’t be more appropriate.

 

Stefanie Igel was an intern with Metro Éireann

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