Jugend für Dora e.V.



"Being a stranger in Ellrich" an example from history and present

Seminary from 3th to 5th of May 2002 in Ellrich

Limits and chances? Refusal or denial? Charity or xenophobia? Differentiation or further development? Self reflection or tolerance and identity? All these subsequently upcoming questions and experiences from projects led us to the idea of a seminary and finally in cooperation with the NGO "Schrankenlos" to a wonderful project.

The seminary offered the chance to get an insight in the public awareness of stranger in a small German town. In the centre were the people who became or still are "strangers" in the Ellrich municipality at different time and because of different reasons. Following this method we focused on the history of Jews in Ellrich, we were talking with the KZ survivors Josef Huybreghts and a displaced person from Silesia, we were thinking about the situation of the Roma and Sinti in the public life, we were listening to reports from Asylum seekers from Pakistan and Kongo and we discussed the matter of "being German" in general.

Beginning with these individual experiences and perception of the population we continued with further conversations about the importance or rather description or definition of: What does it mean being stranger? When and why people feel like? How can we promote a better integration? Thus we were discussing changes and continuities of the perception of the "unknown" through different periods. Diverse contributions made it possible to bring together people who were coming from different geographical and temporal contexts to join our common dialogues and discussions.

By following this approach the seminary marks a crucial step in the young history of our associations work. First we started to learn about the history of the concentration camp in Ellrich, we continued with maintaining work and the installation of information panels, several workcamp projects. Beyond the historical happenings and heritage we finally came up with the discussion of issues and problems from the daily political life. What does it mean to be a stranger? How integration can be achieved? These are two of the often discussed main questions.

The insufficient answers and the missing awareness for this situation requires diverse action urgently. Both on governmental and society level it needs new creative solutions and development ideas as well as beyond all openness and commitment. During these days we discussed many questions and problems of high political or rather social importance and actuality only in a small circle, which need more attention on a larger scale. We were lucky to experience the benefits of a really mixed and diverse event with a lot of growing ideas and new relations, which always start with listening and talking, but also cooking and singing.

The increasing perspective of our tasks and interests led us by that time to the seminary and was finally an impulse and break-up into a new Youth for Dora time. A further step towards the same directions was the seminary about tolerance and pseudotolerance with Brita and Clemens in August 2004. Other projects we couldn't fix and realize by now, because of its complexity. Our perspective became wide, very wide – beyond the region and state, beyond ethnics and religions – to structural issues. The future challenge is now to narrow down the broad issues and the variety of topics in appropriate events and projects. It will be great to find all the complex ideas in the details of each project by following up our always flexible way.

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