And sure, that would be great. It would be really helpful, both for the refugees and those who are working with them. But before we so quickly jump to this step, let's take a moment to think about people's situation. Before I started researching and reading for my work here, I had a vague idea of the long journey from Syria to Germany. I have to admit, my geography isn't that good (typical American for you)...but it's far, it's really far. And people walk. There are routes like this one:
Now imagine doing this walk with four kids under the age of 7, one of whom is too little to walk, which is how one family I've met made their way to Germany.
There are also boats. One of the websites offering travel advice and routes for refugees suggest that you should ensure the safety of your boat and not take one that looks unsafe. Right. Great advice, but also not super practical--it's not like buying a new car, you gotta go with what's there. So probably you have to take a rickety boat. And you might also have small children. And then remember that you're on this boat, with your kids, not just a few hours but days, even weeks.
Sometimes people swim. This is the cheapest option, only a few hundred dollars. But you have to do it at night. And it takes hours.
I'm not sharing these stories to create sympathy, but instead, some kind of better understanding of people's situation and background. Of course, we can never understand what this situation would have been like. And we should all thank God or luck or whatever force we credit for these sorts of things that the country we happen to be born in hasn't fallen into war. So while we can't understand what this would have been like, what it means to have this experience, we can understand why it may be difficult to just "learn German," or "adjust."People have other things on their mind, other concerns and other experiences. Many refugees still have family members in their home country-siblings, parents, aging and ailing relatives. While many are able to stay in contact through SMS, phone and smartphone apps, there is still the real and present concern for the safety of those who remain.
It's understandable that someone may not remember how or when the masculine article "der" changes to "den" or "dem" (heck, I've been learning German for years and I mess that up on a regular basis). It's understandable that someone may not know how or when to call to make a doctor's appointment or buy a train ticket or figure out the bus schedule. With some more thought about a person's background and their cares and concerns, perhaps we can create some better understanding between people. Refugees don't just need our sympathy, our donated items or money-they need our patience. People want to learn and they will, but it won't happen immediately. It won't happen today or tomorrow. But it will happen eventually. And people are going to do things the wrong way. It's a hard country to figure things out in. Everyone is trying. Everyone is doing their best. Or almost everyone. Sometimes you see this:
"Return to your homeland"
We can't allow voices like these to be the loudest. We must distinguish ourselves, but to do so, we must be more understanding and more patient.