Refugees in Belgrade successfully learning German
The third generation of participants in a German language school for refugees at Info Park has successfully graduated.Source: Info Park
A ceremony was held on Thursday in Belgrade's Info Park, the center for the protection of refugees and asylum seekers, on the occasion of the successful completion of a two-month German language course for girls and women from the refugee community in transit through Serbia.
On this occasion, 42 participants aged 7 to 37 received diplomas - certificates of successful attendance of one of two courses: "Fit for school" meant for girls of early school age, and "German: First Aid," aimed at everyone else.
Info Park started to organize informal language teaching last August, adhering to the official program of the German government, which is culturally adjusted and intended to prepare refugees and asylum seekers in Germany. In the beginning, while the weather was good, classes were held in a park near the Bristol Hotel, and despite the makeshift conditions it very quickly became popular among the refugee population in Belgrade. In November 2016, with the opening of Info Park's center in Savamala, conditions were created for more intensive classes according to a precisely defined curriculum. So far about 90 students took part in this program.
"In this way Info Park helps these young girls not lose the time spent in Serbia, while waiting to cross the border. If they did not attend this course here, they would have to complete it in Germany because it is a condition for entry into the formal school system, so in this way, in addition to gaining valuable knowledge, they are practically also buying time. They can all, as soon as they arrive at their new destination, take the appropriate test that they pass here, and with an unprecedented success. In the last test, out of a maximum 100 points, all the girls scored between 92 and 99 points. These results are unprecedented in similar tests of other children," said Susanna Simon, coordinator of the program.
In response to the extraordinary success of these girls, the Goethe Institute in Belgrade decided to give free advanced language classes to the most successful participants. The girls are attending these classes in mixed groups which is particularly conducive to fostering cultural understanding with the local population.
"The key element of the program's success is the girls' huge commitment. Each of them at the beginning of the course receives a textbook and uses it not only in class at Info Park but also in the camp where they now live, using every available opportunity to improve their knowledge. Their enthusiasm is huge and the girls do not even mind having to travel from the camp in Krnjaca to the city center and back. We found out that the girls, in order to cement what they learn with us, speak German among themselves in the camp. In particular, I must mention the commitment of volunteer teachers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland - Susanna, Barbara and Petra, without whose love for the girls and dedication to this task, Info Park would not be able to produce such a successful program, which has been confirmed a third time," said Marija Mitrovic, manager of the center.
Info Park is a joint project of two local philanthropic organizations - the Trag Foundation and Fund 92, established in September 2015. From the initial function of assisting refugees in transit through Belgrade with information services, Info Park grew into one of the leading independent organizations of civil society helping refugees and asylum seekers in Serbia with specialized programs for their protection, empowerment, education and integration.
At the moment, apart from protection work, Info Park is involved with different programs of empowerment, emancipation and education aimed to refugee teenage girls, organized independently or with partners such as Alternative Center for Girls from Krusevac. The Info Park activities are currently supported by International Refugee Committee (IRC), Embassy of Norway/Group 484, The Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief (JCDR) & USAID/Fondacija Ana i Vlade Divac. The photos accompanying the article were taken with the consent of parents or adults.