«A Comparative Case Study of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and Ireland by Melanie Liese B.A. School of Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies ...»
“The house will be brought to life again.” “You are not listening to me properly!”, complained Aunt Wilma. “I‟m talking about Turks! About real Turks! A family with six or seven children and the whole corridor already smells of garlic. How can I keep the fleas at arm‟s length? And they are not even Christians!”] This passage is filled with negative stereotypes of Turkish people15. Here the „other‟ is not simply identified by their ethnic and cultural origin, i.e., being Turkish, but they are also negatively characterised, as this part of the story basically claims that Turks have a negative effect on mainstream society, have lots of children, smell of garlic, have fleas and are not Christians.
Different ethnic and cultural origins are mentioned in the text “Jan kommt aus Deutschland” [Jan comes from Germany] (Jo-Jo 4, pp.68-71, see book). Jan, who is German, has been living in Tanzania. He speaks German and Kiswahili (ibid, p.68).
When his father‟s work as an aid worker in Tanzania comes to end, the family moves back to Germany. A promise Jan gave to his friend Abedi in Tanzania proves to be of great concern for him in Germany. He had told Abedi that he would invite him to Germany.”Aber die Leute hier sagen, es gäbe zu viele Ausländer und diese sollten lieber zu Hause bleiben.” [But the people here say that there are too many foreigners and they should stay home.”] (ibid, p.70). In reference to the „others‟ in Jan‟s class, the text states: “In Jans neuer Klasse gibt es viele türkische Kinder und einen Jungen aus Kenia” [In Jan‟s new class there are many Turkish children and one boy from Kenya.] (ibid, p.71). This shows that the students in Jan‟s class are of different origins. Jan became friends with the Kenyan boy, whose name is Paul.
In “Vimala gehört zu uns” [Vimala is one of us] (Papiertiger 4, pp.184-187, Appendix B, p.XXI-XXII) reference to Vimala‟s origins is made as the reader is told that her parents are from India (ibid, p.184): “Und sie erzählte uns, dass sie in Deutschland geboren wurde, dass ihre Eltern aber aus Indien kommen.“ [And she told us that she was born in Germany, but that her parents are from India.] (ibid, p.184).
The stereotypes mentioned at the beginning of the story are challenged later on when Aunt Wilma becomes quite happy living with the Turkish family. The challenging of those stereotypes will be discussed under “Stereotypes” in later analysis.
Vimala has dark skin. When her classmates meet her for the first time, they are astonished that she speaks German: “Auch sie bestaunten Vimala. “Sie spricht deutsch”, warnte ich die anderen.” [They too gazed at Vimala. “She speaks German”, I warned the others.] (ibid). The text describes Vimala‟s first encounters with students in her new class as well as with the school. Her experiences with hostility from members of the majority and the help she received from class mates will be discussed under the sub-categories of Language, Skin Colour, Religious Difference, Hostility, Questions of Identity and the „Other‟ in Need.
A girl from Poland appears in the text “Ben liebt Anna” (BAUSTEINE Lesebuch 4, pp.44-45, Appendix B, p.III). “Anna war zu Beginn des vierten Schuljahres aus Polen neu in die Klasse gekommen.” [Anna came new to the class from Poland at the beginning of the fourth school year.] (ibid, p.44). The text tells the story of Ben and his feelings for Anna as well as Anna‟s first experiences within the new class, where she is met with hostility from some of her classmates. The same character emerges in the story “Wo Anna wohnt” [Where Anna lives] (Das Auer Lesebuch 4, pp.34-36, Appendix B, pp.XI-XIII). This text also mentions that Anna and her family come from Poland (ibid, p.35). Here we read how Ben follows Anna to her home, where he is introduced to her family. Anna tells Ben how her father has lost his work in Poland, “weil wir nach Deutschland wollten” [because we wanted to come to Germany] (ibid, p.35) and about her life there: “In Katowice war es schön” [It was nice in Katowice] (ibid, p.35).
In “Maria kommt aus Rumänien” [Maria is from Romania] (Lesereise 3, p.124, see book), the reader is aware of Maria‟s origins from the start. Again, this text explores Maria‟s first experiences in a new country: “Der Boden unter ihren Füßen war anders als zu Hause. Die Leute redeten anders. Es roch anders. Alles war ihr fremd.” [The ground under her feet was different to home. The people spoke differently. It smelled differently. Everything was foreign for her.] (ibid) When she tries to befriend some children, she is met with hostility: “Maria lehnte in der Nische neben der Haustür und schaute zu. Sie hätte so gern mitgespielt. Aber die Kinder blickten an ihr vorbei. Ohne sie anzusehen fragte einer: “Was will die Rumänin?“.
[Maria leaned into the slot next to the door and looked on. She would have liked to have played along. But the children looked past her. One of them asked without looking at her: “What does the Romanian want?”] (ibid).
Unlike Maria the character Uwe, from the story “Uwe findet sich zurecht” [Uwe finds his way around] (Lollipop Lesebuch 3, pp.22-23, see book), feels comfortable in the new country. Uwe is from Romania as well and the text explores Uwe‟s rather positive experiences with students and the teacher at his new school as he receives lots of encouragement and praise. When, for example, the class has a language test returned, the teacher says: “Ich freue mich besonders über Uwes Diktat. Er hat keinen Fehler gemacht.” [I am especially happy with Uwe‟s dictation. He did not make one mistake.] (ibid, p.22).
An exploration of stereotypes is presented in the text “Wir sind fünf” [We are five] (Das Auer Lesebuch 4, p.37, Appendix B, p.X). Here an unnamed boy is standing away from a group of four children. As the children discuss why the boy stands there, they also debate and challenge a number of stereotypes, which will be discussed later in the analysis. However, they refer to the boy in a pejorative language associating him with Italy: “Der will zu uns, der Itaker.” [He wants to come to us, the Eyetie16.] (ibid, p.37).
In a text entitled “Warum kommen die Ausländer zu uns?” [Why do the foreigners come to us?] (Tipi Lesebuch 4, pp.90-91, see book), students discuss the subject of migrants with their teacher after someone has written “Ausländer raus!” [Foreigners out!] (ibid, p.90) on the blackboard. Challenging the remark, the teacher explains that many migrants come to Germany because they might be poor or need to flee from war (ibid, p.90). Furthermore, she tells students about migrant workers from Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Yugoslavia and Turkey who were needed when Germany experienced a shortage of workers in the nineteen sixties (ibid, p.90).
Stefan, who is one of the students, tells the class about his origins: “Mein Papa ist noch in Griechenland geboren, aber ich nicht, ich bin hier geboren.” [My dad was still born in Greece, but not me, I was born here.] (ibid, p.91). His teacher replies to Stefan‟s comment saying: “Trotzdem bist du Grieche, also ein Ausländer.” [You are The German term „Itaker‟, like „eyetie‟ in English, is a pejorative term. It negatively refers to people from Italy (Lackamp 2000, p.6).
nevertheless Greek, that is, a foreigner.] (ibid). In an attempt to show how empty the class would be without the ethnic and cultural „others‟ the teacher asks all children of a „foreign‟ origin to leave the classroom (ibid). When nine students leave the room, the class seems empty and “die anderen Kinder merken, dass ihnen die Freunde fehlen” [the other children realise that they miss their friends] (ibid). The teacher then asks the children, who left the class to come back in.
The ethnic and cultural „other‟ in “Christina – Freunde gibt es überall” [Christina – Friends are everywhere] (Tintenklecks 4, p.14, Appendix B, p.XXVIII) is Kenan “aus dem ehemaligen Jugoslawien” [from the former Yugoslavia] (ibid). In this story the reader is told about Kenan and his relationship with students in his new school from Christina‟s perspective. Instead of Kenan, being the „other‟ in the story, telling us about his feelings and experiences in the new school, the reader finds out about how Kenan is perceived by others. Some of the perceptions will be explored and discussed later on in this analysis (see sub-categories Language, Hostility and Stereotypes).
In the poem “Dialog” [Dialogue] by Nasrin Siege (BAUSTEINE Lesebuch 4, p.42, Appendix B, p.II) the ethnic and cultural „other‟ was born in Hamburg (Germany) to an Iranian mother. As the title suggests, the poem is a dialogue between Character A, who represents the German majority and Character B, who represents ethnic and cultural minorities. The author Nasrin Siege was born in Iran and migrated to Germany when she was nine (Siege 2010). Her poem embodies a common conflict, which migrants and people with a migratory background in Germany face. Although born and raised in Germany, many are not accepted as part of German society (see for example Baur 2010 and Polat 2008) and are seen as different, often on the basis of physical features such as skin colour. This is confirmed in the poem, when Character B refers to her Iranian-born mother, Character A replies: “Da haben wir‟s!” [Here we have it]. Character B asks: “Was denn?” [What?], while Character A states: “Dass Du keine Deutsche bist!” [That you are not German!] (BAUSTEINE Lesebuch 4, p.42).
The story about “Coco und Laila” [Coco and Laila] (Das Lesebuch 4, pp.24-27, see book) describes how the two friends collect money for a campaign to save old ponies (ibid, p.25). This collection takes place in a block of flats, where Laila lives. The author Ghazi Abdel-Qadir, who is of Palestinian origin and lives in Germany (ibid, p.27), portrays Laila as the ethnic and cultural „other‟ through attributes that can be associated with her Egyptian roots (ibid). For example, Coco‟s first impressions in
Laila‟s room are described as follows:
Sie kommt sich vor wie in einem orientalischen Palast. Es gibt kein Bett, keinen Schreibtisch, keine Regale und keinen Schrank. Auf einem mit bunten Teppichen bedeckten Podest liegt eine dicke, grüne Matratze, daneben zwei riesige runde Messingtabletts, eins davon mit einer silbernen Teekanne und Gläsern. An der Gardinenstange hängen bunte Tücher und Bügel mit Lailas Klamotten (ibid, p.24).
[She feels like she is in an oriental palace. There is no bed, no writing desk, no shelves and no cupboard. On a platform covered with colourful carpets is a thick, green mattress, beside it two huge round brass trays, one of them with a silver teapot and glasses. Colourful scarves and coat-hangers with Lailas‟ clothes hang on the curtain rail.] Another passage in the text points to how Laila makes gestures while speaking to a neighbour: “Zum ersten Mal fällt Coco auf, dass Laila mit den Händen redet. Sie schwenkt sie mal nach links, mal nach rechts und beschreibt riesige Bogen in der Luft.” [Coco notices for the first time that Laila speaks with her hands. She swings them sometimes to the left and sometimes to the right and describes huge bows in the air.] (ibid, p.25). Body language and gestures are often culture-specific and have different meanings in different countries. Through the example of Laila, the author accentuates how using hand gestures while speaking may occur more intensely in Arab culture than in German culture. Differences between the two girls is a central
theme in the story, which receives more attention in the questions following the text:
Coco beobachtet Laila sehr genau. Was ist ihr dabei aufgefallen? Was ist dir an Coco aufgefallen? Zeigt in einer Pantomime, wie sich Laila und Coco unterscheiden. Sucht die Zeilen in der Geschichte, die beschreiben, wie sich Coco und Laila bewegen, wie sie mit anderen sprechen (ibid, p.27).
[Coco observes Laila very closely. What did she notice? What did you notice about Coco? Show in a pantomime how Laila and Coco differ. Look for the lines in the story which describe how Coco and Laila move, how they speak to others.] These questions are intended to discuss cultural difference, in particular in relation to gestures and non-verbal communication in German and, in this case, Egyptian culture.