top of page

Dear colleagues,

I was very excited to share my first feelings yesterday after our marathon digital conference "Multilingualism in the German Education System" in its sixth edition.

With the same emotion, today is the time for some reflection as part of our Migra Up project, which is not by chance in its sixth year of uninterrupted activity.

At the end of 2014, Pankow's new integration officer, Katarina Niewiedzial, currently the Berlin Senate's representative for integration and migration, began her work. From the start of her tenure, the need to find themes and specific niches for action and to build professional networks based on the social capital of migrant organizations (MSO) was evident. Then came the question of promoting multilingualism, and Lingua Pankow was born. It was also evident that Pankow's MSOs had a lot of experience and expertise in this area, but it was necessary to make this visible.

The networking, the cooperation between the MSOs and the formalization of exchange spaces with the administration in order to give the topic a political vision became part of the Migra Up project - formerly Migramove - Migrapower -.

As a project manager, I was invited to a meeting in 2015, the aim of which was to bring the topic to all of Berlin. The name of this network is BEFan and it still exists. It has become another reference on the subject in question. In fact, the I Fachtag was synchronized by both networks through the local Lingua Pankow and the Berlin BEFan, led at that time by VIA eV, Yekmal eV and Mitra eV The coordinator of BEFan is a member of our Migra Up project. The connection is stronger than before.

Katarina arrived without a team. It was necessary to build up more community bases and a discourse. At least for me, the lively exchange with Katarina was very important. Through the many conversations and encounters between two mothers and children who grow up between two or more cultures, we re-understood our role as representatives of civil society and administration. Good chemistry on a personal level also worked at work.

Six years after these discussions, we have grown and have seen many changes in Pankow.

The intercultural opening to which our project belongs shows that communication between civil society and administration is not only good, but also necessary. The tremendous commitment of the MSOs can remain an anecdote if we don't think about long-term or sustainable processes. Working with state actors is what makes it possible. Since 2015, by defining multilingualism as the first priority on our local agenda, we have been able to expand the scope and financial possibilities, promote more projects, more organizations and of course joint events such as the specialist day. Without the administration, we will not achieve the institutionalization of our work or its sustainability. Then it is time to generate best practices and appropriate discourse to help us create guidelines - policies.

This time, after so many months, we were able to expand our local team and reach more members. Despite the limits of the pandemic, a mixed team has been formed. We had found ways to come together, think together, and support each other. Thanks to the enormous motivation and trust that exists between us, anything was possible.

Six years later, the Pankow district office, which created the conceptual basis for today's Migra Up tandem project - cooperation between OASE Berlin eV and VIA eV - has a consolidated integration team. We thank you: Nina Tsonkidis, the new integration officer and her team: Birgit Gust, Susann Kubisch and Sara Ghayour-Mobarhan. Everyone is encouraged to not only do the work, but also the ideas and resources to present our work efficiently. As a member of the Pankow Integration Advisory Board, I thank you for motivating the current membership constellation and our new multilingual working group with members from Russia, Poland, Romania, Cameroon, Iran, Peru and Germany. From here I would also like to thank you for your constant support for every idea or project mentioned.

Before that, in 2017, Estrella Betancor del Rosario - member of the Marzahn-Hellersdorf Integration Council - came up with the idea of ​​founding a multilingual working group. Since then, she has held annual conferences and managed to attract the attention and support of various public administrators in her district. Estrella's work would have been without the support of the integration officer, Dr. Thomas Bryant and his team can't stand out. I would also like to thank Francisco Cárdenas, who, in addition to his work in coordinating refugee issues, takes part in the working group meetings and promotes them. This year, both AGs - from Pankow and Marzahn-Hellersdorf - have strengthened our cooperation in the middle of the pandemic, and an example of our cooperation is the participation and the dialogue that we regularly have, the management of yesterday's future workshop 1 and their presence in the ORGA team of our symposium.

Of course, there are many more people involved in the intercultural opening in Pankow. My special thanks from the project go to Danilo Vetter, Leslie Kuo and the heads of the 8 libraries in the district. Despite the current requirements, we have managed to make several advances on the above-mentioned question in coordination with the MSO von Pankow. It is worth mentioning topics such as Fairy Tale Day (this year for the 5th anniversary) and defining a plan with an accent on the different languages ​​of the district for each of its libraries. Great! We are also making some progress with the youth welfare office. Promotion of spaces for exchange and the identification of processes that our communities need to reach in their mother tongue. Many thanks to Ms. Angela Schneider for working with the MSO members of the Working Group Women in Separation and for planning cooperation measures.

The next level of public administration is the Senate. And this time we had two of them, the Senate Department for Education (SVB) and the Senate Department for Integration (SVI). Our contact is not based on specific funding projects. The coordination came on another level. The aim was to organize a specialist day to discuss the concept of multilingualism in Berlin schools and its future implementation. Working on an equal footing was of crucial importance here, and from here we would like to thank Fatih Özkan, our partner at SVB, who is responsible for the major goal of laying the foundations for the multilingual concept for Berlin and its availability for communication with all possible stakeholders Alexander Lautsch, contact person for the Berlin Integration Commissioner, for answering our questions and concerns punctually and for the excellent position of the Senate.

And the last thanks goes to our dear Katarina for your commitment and inspiration as a woman and mother, who, like us, see migration and multilingualism as potential and wealth.

I close this note with great pleasure. For the reception in Pankow from my first day in Berlin. And to be a witness and an active part of important and necessary changes. In times of the pandemic and so many other crises, it's good to celebrate the good news, and what we're building in Pankow is more than good.

We have the opportunity to continue to grow. Our project works on the issues of the organized migrant community, the people who make them up, and hopes to continue building bridges with local government. On the topic of multilingualism, we added the topic of diversity and women in separation. Dialogue and cooperation are an identity brand in Pankow and can spread throughout Berlin.

Many Thanks!

Marita Orbegoso Alvarez

Project manager

Tandem project Migra Up! Pankow.

OASE Berlin eV & VIA eV

bottom of page