I spent last week embedded not with Kreis Düren, but with the city of Düren’s Social Welfare Office, where I worked as part of an ongoing project to provide entrance counseling to refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants who are now finding themselves in Düren. Through this program, we sought to help the clients start their new lives in Düren, helping them to register with the city and district, securing temporary accommodations, setting up German bank accounts, organizing any necessary government appointments, and making our best attempt to explain both their current situation and their next steps in the coming weeks. In addition to helping them with this fresh start, we also spent the week visiting clients in order to conduct checkups of sorts. Following my work with the city, I spent the conclusion of my internship both visiting a district refugee camp and back working with the Kreis Düren Communal Integration Center, which was my primary work posting for the summer. Although it still feels a little strange, as of yesterday afternoon, my summer internship with Kreis Düren is now concluded.
With my internship with Kreis Düren now complete and my time in Germany also quickly drawing to a close, I strongly believe that both have had a rather significant effect on my my future personal plans and career goals. I will now be seeking out every opportunity to return to here in a few years in order to continue my education at a German university and I am also now very interested in the idea of then hunting for a job here in Germany or one that will otherwise have me returning for frequent visits. In addition, the network of friends, coworkers, and host families that I have been able to form over the last few months only encourages my new plans and goals.
It is my hope that once I get back home, I can be an advocate not only for living and interning in Germany but also for the kind of integration work that I have been a part of over the last several weeks. To students considering completing similar internships working with immigrants and refugees, I would emphasis that although you almost certainly won’t get paid for your summer work, such an internship experience is nevertheless well worthwhile and the work itself is invaluable.