Interview with Matthias

„Since the word integration is very often used in the context of failed integration, I think it is useful to look at the main reasons why integration fails. One of these main reasons, in my humble opinion, is the lack of (or simply wrong) information about other cultures/customs/ways of life. Since humans tend to fear what they do not know, this lack of information (or the incorrect information, which leads to a distorted image of others) transforms every encounter with the “unknown” into a biased interrogation. In other words, the lack of information leads to persons using every little detail of information, including stereotypes and clichés, when it comes to encounters with people from different backgrounds, which eventually ends in cycles of self-fulfilling-prophecies.

Since it is very hard for adults to change their own point of view, I think the easiest way to break up these cycles is through education. Since schoolgrounds are abundantly diverse anyway, there should be subjects in school like “transcultural communication” or “cultural diversity”. Technically, this could also fall within the subject of “Religion”, IF this subject actually focused on several different religions and not just on the most frequent denomination of the country. Since it is often argued, that cultural differences, and therefore failed integration attempts, stem from the different values different religions bring forward, in class, there should be a focus on the many similarities and roots of those religions, in order to establish a feeling of with each other instead of against each other. If this notion was embedded into children’s minds, then successful integration would be a logical consequence of the mutual respect young adults learn in school.

Initiatives like the TRAIN project are a great starter for getting more people to think about the difficult topic of integration. However, in order to actually facilitate change towards societies where integration comes naturally, I am convinced that kids have to study, understand and appreciate transcultural differences in school. “

Matthias Mohrs, 27