Germany’s strong minority voices getting stronger


Like many people who visit the German capital, I love Berlin.

My reasons are perhaps different to the millions who now visit this teeming metropolis. The majority who go there, particularly the young do so because Berlin is, at the moment, one of the coolest urban places on the planet. The four star hotel/hostel  that I stayed at boasted a club night until 4am-thankfully when I wasn’t there- free yoga classes, indoor football, swimming pool, and a bar crawl through the streets of the old East Berlin.

My love, however,  for Berlin stems from a project OBV helped inspire, that is now in its 2nd year and goes from strength to strength.

A young man of African/ German decent and a young woman of Turkish German decent joined forces to give birth to ‘Berlin’s Inclusion leader’s workshop'.

Once a year these volunteer activists, bring together the brightest and boldest minority individuals from around Germany to become the country's  next generation of leaders.

For four days the group of nearly 20 are put through their paces in political education, campaign strategy, ethics, partnerships, the media and much more.

Having inspired Gun and Daniel to start this project OBV has attended and facilitated every year to teach and encourage the growth of their dream.

On the first day I spoke to the group, demanding their success. I told them that when I was in that early learning curve of political empowerment I often found myself around discussion tables consumed with the fear of God because I might need to speak. But I told them, if I didn’t make particularly points –often regarding race equality- then those points wouldn’t be said.

With that a young woman Ha Linh Tran Thi raised her hand.

She said:

"I rarely speak about these issues. For one, I get nervous and emotional, and secondly, few of the people I speak to understand the challenges I face."

Her voice trembled, but she spoke about the joy of being with others who understood the plight she faced in Germany as a minority:

"Back home in Dresden, I couldn’t speak about these things. But here with you it’s different."

Almost spontaneously a Muslim female delegate rose walked across the floor and hugged Ha Linh. “This is our family the woman told her.”

This is why I love Berlin: This teeming diversity coming together, sharing stories, being nurtured to lead the next generation. During their four days training which continues until Saturday, they will have lectures from the US Ambassador’s office, German MP’s, writers, activist and our very own Professor Kurt Barling-who speaks fluent German- who will give a lecture and training on media skills.

I hope to return next year to watch and assist in this most brilliant project which not only gives a voice to Germany’s minority communities, but also nurtures a new leadership whose strength relies upon supporting one another.

Well done Gun and Daniel

Simon Woolley