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US Ambassador Visits Neukölln to Learn About its Refugee Experience

Ambassador Emerson visited the Berlin district of Neukölln where he was shown different examples of successful refugee integration

August 29th, 2016
Vojtech Jirasek, News from Berlin

The Ambassador of the United States of America to Germany, John B. Emerson, has visited the Berlin district of Neukölln where he was shown both historical and modern examples of the successful integration of refugees from around world and had the opportunity to learn about the many positive opportunities which immigration offers.

The Ambassador, his wife and their three children toured the Berlin district of Neukölln together with its mayor Dr. Franziska Giffey on August 16, 2016. Neukölln is known to be the most diverse district in Berlin. Approximately 40 % of the habitants of the quarter have international backgrounds. The tour showcased Germany’s historical experience with accepting refugees from other countries displaced by war, and also the positive opportunities which immigration can bring.

On this tour through Neukölln, Ambassador Emerson visited Café Ole, founded in 2012 by Sezer Yigitoglu, a deaf entrepreneur of Turkish origin. He also visited the Neukölln city hall, where he met the district mayor, Dr. Giffey, who showed him the Parliamentary Hall and voiced her perspective on immigration in Neukölln. Ambassador Emerson also signed the Golden Book of the district Neukölln.

Neukölln’s tradition of refugee acceptance dates back to the 18th century when the Prussian King Frederick Wilhelm I invited persecuted Protestants from Bohemia who settled in 1737 in Rixdorf. Here, Ambassador Emerson visited the Museum in the Bohemian Village, housed in the old Bohemian schoolhouse, where he was guided by a descendant of those Protestants.

Ambassador Emerson also visited the Comenius garden, which is dedicated to Johann Amos Comenius, a Moravian teacher, writer and Protestant bishop from the 17th century. His work is credited with influencing modern education worldwide, particularly in Holland, Sweden, Prussia, Scotland and England. Comenius is an ideal example of how immigrant communities bring knowledge from their countries which then enhances other cultures.

Afterwards, Ambassador Emerson visited the MaDonna, center which offers afterschool programs to Muslim girls from the area. Here he had lunch with representatives of different community service organizations who are pro-actively involved in shaping their community.


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