Germany: Immigration and Integration

This semester I attended a lecture on the topic of immigration and integration in Germany.

It has taken Germany a long time to realize that it is built upon migration. One in every five Germans comes from a migrant background. Migrants make up more of its population than the USA. During the refugee crisis in the last 3 or so years, over 2 million people flocked to Germany from Arabic countries. At the peak, 12,000 people were arriving every day. Angela Merkel, Germany’s prime minister, decided not to close its borders, and as a result, the federal department that deals with immigration had a 50% increase in staff, but even still, takes months to settle cases.

Integration courses for language and orientation emerged to facilitate these refugees entrance into German society. Merkel said that integration is an expectation that refugees will learn German and abide by German laws. But the recent political climate is shifting against welcoming the refugees, mainly due to security concerns. The recent election has given rise to a new leftist party which maintains a stronger stance against the refugee influx.

As one who has been to Germany and witnessed the influx of refugees from Arabic and Farsi-speaking countries, I recognize that behind the large and looming numbers like “2 million refugees flooded into Germany,” and “6 month wait time for asylum status,” are real people with families back home and unpredictable futures. I admire Germany’s welcoming efforts to ensure that these people transition smoothly to the German way of life. I hope that Germany continues to keep its borders open and maintain its welcoming stance towards migrants.


Wang Anyi — Newman Prize Winner for Chinese Literature

This semester I got to meet the famous Chinese writer, Wang Anyi, who came to OU to receive her award for the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature. I went to a Chinese Salon conducted only in Chinese where a panel of top Chinese writers, thinkers and interpreters took questions about Chinese history and writing. I understood about 40%, but one point I did manage to grasp was that Wang Anyi is not just a skillful writer, but also a thinker. In her writings set during the Mao era in China, she skillfully captured fundamental themes such as love, family, revenge, and death, themes which do not change despite the tumultuous outward political environment.

After the salon, I got to take a photo with Wang Anyi, along with another Chinese girl I met who has the same Chinese name as me. I also had the opportunity to take a photo with a Peking University professor.