Following my work in the local home for children, I spent these last past two weeks working for a group of programs made possible by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. In the first of these programs, I worked in conjunction with a Düren Evangelical Community program called Café International in order to provide various consultation services for recent immigrants and refugees who are now living here in the district and are over the age of 26. In the second placement, I worked for a week with a Catholic social service group to provide similar, but distinct services to those 26 and under. Having previously only spent time working with younger refugees and immigrants, I learned very quickly how different the issues become once you become an adult in the eyes of the German state. Although our clients varied significantly in age, they often shared similar problems with one another and often came to us seeking help and advice on simply how to properly navigate German laws and bureaucracy.
Also as part of this placement, I traveled to neighboring towns and communities in order to make house-calls, biweekly checkups, and to similarly advise refuges and immigrants who had more specific, longer term issues or were just unable to make it into Düren for office hours and appointments. Although there had been a few stressful days in my prior placements, I am almost certain that my internship hit its lowest point when we made one such house-call to a family of asylum seekers whose asylum applications had just been denied only days before.
It was our task for the day to notify the family that they had to either vacate Germany voluntarily or they would be forcibly deported and subsequently banned from returning to Germany for a longer period of time. Despite their denied asylum request, the family still believed that the issue that drove them to German remained a danger and as such, returning was also not an option from their perspective. From their perspective, they couldn’t return home and we arrived to tell them that their best hope was to do just that. Unfortunately, before too long, our attempt to notify the family and clarify the situation only led to the father and my coworker having a looping argument over German laws and the treatment of refugees in Germany. When we left a few hours later, we were left in serious doubt of whether our explanations had been understood or whether our suggestions had only fallen on closed ears. As pair of people trying our best to help the family, it was difficult to sit through the fathers berating and only be armed with a response and counterpoints that either went ignored or wholly misunderstood.
Despite the low-point of our unsuccessful house-call, my last few weeks were not without fun and some excite as I made a weekend trip to Paris with my host family and was given a personal tour of the nearby Hambach Surface Mine, which is among the largest open pit mines in the world and home to the largest land vehicle in the world, see Bagger 288 and Bagger 293.