The city tours of “Querstadtein – Berlin anders sehen” (Cross city – seeing Berlin differently) give an impressive answer to this question. The organisation offers tours in which refugees show the Berlin they got to know when they arrived. The participants of the tour experience the city from a different perspective. They learn what it means to suddenly be a foreigner in a country without knowing the local language and being away from your home, family and friends. Being a volunteer tour guide gives the refugees the opportunity to be heard while public discourse is often only “about” them, but not “with” them. The organization offers also tours guided by homeless people that present the city from their point of view and sensitize the participants to homelessness.
Firas Zakri, one of the guides, presents in the video the project:
In the second video, Firas explains why he volunteers as a tour guide and what reactions he experiences on his tours. He reports that people with negative opinions about refugees have changed their mind after they have heard his story.
Firas speaks about his experience as a tour guide:
This project demonstrates the importance to understand each other and make an effort to listen to one another – integration needs both sides. The WELCOME Programme builds on the same idea and aims at bringing together locals and refugees by training them in ICT. The trainers will be young refugees that volunteer to become mentors and learn how to organize and implement IT-workshops during the programme. The WELCOME programme learns from projects like “Querstadtein” in order to benefit from their experiences – like Firas, the young mentors will hopefully also change people’s point of view.