The Refugee Academy is a Berlin based nonprofit that creates learning spaces for refugees seeking to assimilate. It was founded in response to the influx of refugees into Germany and represents a challenge to more conservative, dehumanizing methods for settling refugees. Historically, the most common way of dealing with refugees is to quarantine them in the least desirable part of the city or country and shelter them there quasi-permanently. Optimally, refugees could find sanctuary in another country and be moved along, so as not to disturb the host country any more than necessary.
The Refugee Academy is founded in protest to this cynical and pervasive strategy. Their open education philosophy is rooted in the UN’s universal declaration of human rights, and believes that the influx of refugees can be a national asset. Pragmatically, many of the refugees arriving from foreign shores are well educated and professional. It hardly makes sense for a skilled dentist to be wasting away in an internment camp. The Academy therefore provides native language education to help migrants find work within Germany. It utilizes volunteers who are willing to teach, and the curriculum isn’t limited to any particular trade, skill or ideology. Beyond mere vocational training, the Refugee Academy emphasizes the creation of community and the social construction of a new homeland. They organize city tours and classes to help migrants understand more about Germany. In a sense, their work is really about designing new ways to think about migration – work that is desperately needed in our current geopolitical landscape. Climate change will produce tens of millions of refugees in the coming decades. This will only add to those refugee communities that are created by military and sectarian conflict.
The world needs new ways to think about refugees – ways that do not stigmatize or ghettoize them, but rather support new forms of assimilation and interaction.
We honor the Refugee Academy as they continue to explore these new methods and encourage you to learn more at the links below.