Heinrich Boll Schule – Germany

Activity paper  by German Lampedusa group

Interviews with young refugees at our school (see foto)

After having gone through and extensively discussing the given questions regarding the identification with a migrant, and dealing with the following investigation and the acceptance questions, our group decided that instead of just writing down answers to the given questions, we wanted to interview unaccompanied refugees who are presently at our school. Thus we hoped to gain greater insight into the problems and hopes, the thoughts and feelings of the people involved.


Getting ready for the interviews

With the help of teachers, we found several male adolescents at Heinrich-Boell-Schule  who are either in extra classes that currently concentrate on learning German or are in regular classes already.  We set up a paper which told our interview partners beforehand, what  the purpose of the interview should be and also the actual questions, so that they would be able to think of what they wanted to answer (and also what they did not want to say).

Doing the interviews

We created one-to-one situations in a friendly atmosphere in a quiet room at our school and the interviews, which were intended to take about 15 – 20 minutes, then lasted about 45 minutes because after an initial shyness,  the boys started talking more and more openly and gained trust in the students. The students, on the other hand, were very sensitive to the boys’ situation and showed a lot of respect and understanding.


After the interviews

All three students were amazed at what the boys had had to go through. Although in theory, they had been prepared to individual refugee stories, they were nevertheless quite moved if not shocked by the boys’ reports concerning their journey and their present situation (living without their parents, loneliness, difficulty in making new friends…). All of the students agreed that they had a new outlook at their own situation now and that they somehow wanted to do something to help their interview partners. In one case, phone numbers were immediately exchanged.

Prospects / outlook

The interviews seem to be a good base for starting a project like partnerships between German and refugee adolescents.

g4Activity paper  by German Lampedusa group

Former projects

Project week of school classes  (see fotos)

Last year, during a special week, 3 complete classes (about 70 students, aged 14 to 15 years)  did a project to get in touch with local refugees. We invited them to school and about 20 people aged between 17 and 60 accepted the invitation. We had prepared groups which did sports, another did artwork, others consisted of help with the German language, still others interviewed people and did  research on the countries they came from. After that week, a small group of 8 students decided to go on with the German language classes and continued them throughout the school year, so that every week, there was a meeting which generally between 3 and 10 refugees attended.  There were also cases of family friendships that developed and  that still go on outside school.

Bike project (see fotos)

g5We found that many of the refugees living close to our school were not very mobile.  In many cases, they did long distances on foot. There was a great demand for bicycles and so  we asked the parents of the students of our school to donate bikes that they did not need any more.   

We then cooperated with a nearby bike repair shop, which on some afternoons helped to repair the donated bikes, together with students and refugees.   Each refugee who had helped to repair his bike could, at the end of the day, take home a bike.  Afterwards, we had several meetings with some of the refugees, and even one invitation to dinner in the refugee home, which everybody enjoyed.