“The motto must be: integration classes for all,” said professor Annette Treibel ahead of her presentation at a conference in Rostock called “Integration - How does it work?. Education, work and culture”. The day-long series of lectures and discussions is focused on how the country should address the social implications of hundreds of thousands of refugees who have come to Germany.
Treibel will be giving a talk about how integration is for both “old and new Germans”.
She explained that even though Germany has been a destination for immigrants for several decades, many natives have not had to be confronted with the societal changes.
Even amid the current record number of refugees in the country and increased anti-immigrant rhetoric by far-right groups, a recent survey by research group Emnid for Bild tabloid showed that 76 percent of Germans said their lives had not been affected by new asylum seekers.
Another 13 percent said the impact on them had been “for the worse” while 8 percent said the changes had been “for the better”.
Treibel said it is problematic that people who are born and raised in Germany are still frequently asked “where are you really from?” if they don't appear to be of German heritage.
“Many ‘old Germans' don't understand that people with darker skin colours are indeed German and can speak German with their region's strong dialect,” the sociologist said.
“They no longer fit into the category of foreigner.”