Pre-integration programmes now offered in North Africa / Middle East and Brazil
Worldwide support to prepare for life in Germany

The new project “Pre-integration in the regions of South-East Asia, South-East Europe, North Africa/Middle East and Brazil” started in July 2020. This project has allowed expansion of the established programmes in South-East Asia and South-East Europe to prepare migrants for everyday life and the workplace, as well as opening up new locations. Today the project covers 18 locations on four continents, and 47 team members are involved.

By Janna Degener-Storr

Do you live in Iraq, have a German wife and would like to go and live with her in her home country? In future you will be able to access free information to prepare you for migration at the Goethe-Institut in Erbil – in both Kurdish and Arabic. Maybe you are a Serb and want to understand how to establish a career in Germany? You can find videos in which Serbs talk about their experiences of taking this route on the Serbian Goethe-Institut website. Or perhaps your home is in São Paulo and you’d like to migrate to Germany because your husband has found a job there?  You can take advantage of advice services, informative events and seminars at the Goethe-Institut Brazil in preparation for your new life.

Migration preparation in your home country

The plan is to roll out the Goethe-Institut pre-integration work on a global scale. That is stated in the National Action Plan for Integration drawn up by the German government, which the Chancellor presented at the integration summit in March 2020. “A year later we’ve already taken some important steps in this direction,” says Andrea Hammann, project coordinator at the Goethe-Institut head office. Participants on four continents are already benefiting from a variety of support programmes: the pamphlet Mein Deutschlandheft has been published in large numbers for the Goethe-Institut regional offices in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as Columbia. Anyone in India, Mexico and South Korea who is interested can access not only this brochure but also video testimonials in which people from their own cultural background talk about what they have experienced and their emotions during the process of migrating to Germany.

Zwei junge Männer reden miteinander auf der Straße. © © Goethe-Institut, Getty Images Vorintegration in NANO und Brasilien © Goethe-Institut, Getty Images

In the regions of South America and North Africa/Middle East, the initial goal – as with the established locations in South-East Europe and South-East Asia – is to provide a variety of advice services, events and training. And much of that has happened already: in South America the Goethe-Institut is focusing on pre-integration work with Brazil as the pilot country to begin with. Here a film team produced eight videos from September to December 2020, in which Brazilians related what their life in Germany was like. Then at the end of January things really got going, starting off with an advice week as their first event, which was very popular. “We only published one social media post, as a result of which over 200 people came to us with their questions,” recalls Carla Pereira, who coordinates the project in São Paulo. The three employees ran the first 30 advice sessions as a team to develop a routine together. Now they aim to identify themes for future programmes and develop partnerships locally. “For instance we’d like to invite speakers to explain to our participants how health insurance and the tax system operate in Germany,” says Carla Pereira.

News from North Africa and the Middle East

At the Goethe-Institut Cairo they started developing the pre-integration programme within the structure of this project since August 2020. Information seminars now provide Egyptians with a regular opportunity to have their questions answered within the Goethe-Institut pre-integration programme. Intercultural training offers them a chance to focus intensively on the challenges they can expect to face in Germany and how to cope with them. “We always have more people registering than places available. This shows us that many people are interested in our programmes,” project coordinator Katharina Karpa is pleased to report. In the near future, anyone who is interested will be able to receive additional input to equip themselves for migration – through seminars on how to approach learning and exams, as well as by accessing the portal Mein Weg nach Deutschland. Depending on the issue, Goethe-Institut employees can also point these people towards appropriate programmes offered by partner organisations.

Junge lächelnde Frau steht an einem Hauseingang. © © Goethe-Institut, Getty Images Vorintegration in NANO und Brasilien © Goethe-Institut, Getty Images
Cairo: everyone around the table

One highlight of the first few months of pre-integration work in Egypt was a Round Table, which took place for the first time in Cairo at the end of February. A selection of influential figures from the region congregated at this event, with the aim of getting to know each other better and defining responsibilities more clearly. For instance representatives of the ProRecognition project run by the International Chamber of Commerce talked about their experiences of qualification recognition as well as their job application courses. The German Embassy provided the current facts regarding visas. And the International Placement Services offered information on which specialist qualifications are particularly in demand on the German job market at the moment. “Our study Annäherung, die im Heimatland beginnt (Approaches that begin at home), which was published in 2020, served to confirm that regional networking needs to be stepped up in order to optimise the quality of pre-integration work. The Round Table in Cairo is a very good example of how this can be put into practice at other locations as well in future,” reckons Andrea Hammann.

Since November 2020 the pre-integration programmes have been replicated in other Goethe-Institutes in the region too:  in Tunisia they’ve already started an introductory programme. Now they are developing further concepts for location-specific pre-integration work both there and also in Iraq and Lebanon.

The consequences of the pandemic

Pre-integration work at the new locations has been influenced by the corona pandemic right from the start. The Goethe-Institut São Paulo for instance had already established communication with more than fifty Brazilians throughout Germany, but then had to concentrate on testimonials from Berlin in the videos because the film team was not allowed to leave the capital during the second wave.
And of course the programmes at most locations are being delivered digitally until further notice throughout the project. Much of the advice sought at all locations concerns the question of who can currently get a visa at all and how COVID-19 is impacting the job market in Germany.

Funded by:

Logo Asyl-, Migrations- und Integrationsfonds © © Goethe-Institut Logo Asyl-, Migrations- und Integrationsfonds