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Community Learning in Düsseldorf: The GUTS-Project in Germany and the Situation of Migration by Petra Herre

looja Maurice de Greef
Keel: EN

EEB Nordrhein’s contribution to the GUTS programme is an innovative “Learning Programme as a Preparation for Life as a Senior Citizen and Living with Senior Citizens”. It encompasses numerous creative modules, which encourage and enable people of every age group to become articulate and aware of correlations, to participate actively in the shaping of social life and to assume responsibility. Young and old people have been enabled to contribute actively to planning and shaping the future: in families and communities, the local area and the neighbourhood.

In 2013 the programme has been organised for the first time. Then in 2015 it was modified due to the situation in the city of Düsseldorf. The city was confronted in the summer of 2015 with a lot of especially young refugees. In consequence the programme had to have a shift of emphasis. The questions to be answered were: How could we meet these refugees? How can they become our neighbours? How could we help them? How could we communicate with them and get into contact with people, who were neither familiar with our language nor our habits?

This gave the chance to develop a concept supporting the German Willkommenskultur (Welcome Culture) and create a new community of generations and cultures. A main goal was the development of a learning programme to promote the meeting of people and the social and cultural community of generations and cultures in the closer social context (neighbourhood) with a particular focus on the current challenges of the refugee work in Düsseldorf. The goal was to develop and test methods for joint learning. The group of adult educators (responsible for the programme) would find a way for integration of the refugees in the local community.

A total of 20 people between 17 and 78 years participated in the Programme Q 117 (including 7 refugees). The composition of the learning group posed great challenges to its management mainly due to language problems and due to the fact that the refugees are not familiar with the circumstances in Germany. So it was a great challenge to find methods to work together in a productive way. After all this experiment was successful. Six modules and workshops have been realised and the experiences were positive in bridging the differences by doing something together and joint co-creative activities for example building a mobile, exploring the neighbourhood by making photos, developing a photo exhibition, making excursions (kindergartens, schools, museums, sports activities and concerts), eating together and preparing a party.

The sustainability of the programme was secured by diverse measures among others integrating refugees in existing groups, promoting the activities within refugee work, developing a low-level orientation programme for refugees (specifically for mothers) and publishing a neighbourhood newspaper “PatchWerk” to inform citizens of Düsseldorf. Based on these experiences a train-the-trainer programme “Shaping the future of inclusive neighbourhoods” for multipliers in the field of adult education, social and cultural work was developed and disseminated in existing networks.


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