Racism, immigration, and transatlantic comparisons

Today we had two presentations to help frame our European adventure. The first was from Helga Flores-Trejo. She is executive director of the Heinrich Boll Foundation. Although Mexican by birth and heritage, she is now a German citizen and is connected to the Green Party.

She spoke about immigration in Germany. The key points are that:
1 Germany has never seen itself as an immigrant nation. It has Turkish guest workers, who remain foreigners. 2 Citizenship had been based on a notion of blood as opposed to soil, as in the US.
3 There are some efforts by the government to recognize that they need to integrate young Turks, as Germans by finding out how Islam should be taught in State schools, offering German language courses, reforming immigration to allow those with one German parent to become citizens (1990), and offering a green card to recruit hitech Indian workers (but making the restrictions so great that none applied.)

More in 8 hours.

Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall, PhD [email protected] +1 312.282.2893

View from Belgium Ambassador's home.

View from Belgium Ambassador's home.
Day 1 has been about understanding the full implications of the GMF program

We had an orientation, led by GMF president Craig Kennedy and AMMF program officer Neil Sumilas,emphasized how we are part of a larger community. I got a great sense of how special the program is within all the work GMF does. As Craig stated,"it is their investment in the future". They want us to get involved with many areas of their programming. This excites me,because they're doing amazing things.

The other emphasis was on the fact that we are ambassadors to the program, the US, our organizations, and ourselves. There was lots of tips about appropriate behavior. Tomorrow we will get tips on travelling as people of color. Of the 19 participants, 6 of us are people of color.

The motto is to be flexible and have a good sense of humor, which most of us all seem to have.

Dinner was lovely. I sat next to the Ambassador's brother who was visiting. The Ambassador told us 3 things about Belgium and 3 about Europe. 1 Belgium is proud of its history, which is one of being invaded and occupied by its neighbors. 2 It believes in its cradle to grave welfare state. Welfare is not a dirty word. 3 It is proud of its diversity, where 50% of inhabitants are foreigners.

Craig brought up an important point about understanding Europe. It's population is shrinking. So much of what Europe has been able to do is because they have the money to do it. How does that change when the majority of their budget has to go to paying pensions.

From a design perspective, how does that affect communications, environments, and ergonomic products for either aged people or people who don't speak French, Dutch, or German? The US has now included plain language requirements as part of the paperwork reduction act. Will I find the same?

Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall, PhD [email protected] +1 312.282.2893