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26. October 2023

Study visit strengthens global learning on migration between Germany and Philippines

AWO International, in collaboration with its Regional Office in Manila, recently organized a knowledge sharing and capacity building study visit for social workers from the Philippines to AWO member institutions in Germany.

A group photo with SDGs
Study Visit Workshops 2023

From 25 September to 7 October 2023, eight delegates from four Philippine non-government organizations visited AWO member institutions in Berlin, Thuringen, and Rathenow. These two (2) weeks were spent deep-diving into an intensive program of capacity building and knowledge exchange on case management of migration related issues - of refugees and asylum seekers, labor migrants; learning the programs and services being offered to facilitate integration in the German society; and how Germany delivers programs and services for underrepresented and disadvantaged migrants.

The activity kicked off with a global learning session between the delegates and German participants. Its primary focus was on understanding migration in the context of the global north and south. The sessions explored factors affecting and being affected by mobility like demands of a country to increase production potential to sustain economic growth, individuals’ needs to increase purchasing power for stability, remittances as economic drivers of local economies, and others. Interestingly, migration’s push and pull factors remain socio-economic and political in nature - with the additional challenges now of the environment and climate change.

Social Workers as agents of integration

To put the workshop theories and concepts into practice, the social workers from the Philippines visited seven AWO facilities in Germany to learn how these centers support citizen’s participation and provide inclusive services on education, health and counselling, youth welfare and migration and integration. As social service partners of local governments in Germany, they put a large emphasis on the need to improve the quality of systems and processes for migrants to better integrate in Germany.

During these visits, German and Philippine social workers exchanged insights on counseling and case management techniques, approaches to monitoring clients’ progress, well-being and stress management for carers (“care for carers”), and more. A general idea that persisted until the end of the visit, rightfully so, was the emphasis on the crucial need for social workers to understand sensitivities and respond to each migrant’s experiences sensibly based on these. Equally important in this line of work is to have strong professional commitment, openness to lifelong learning, and ability to keep abreast on the ever-changing trend of migration, as well as governmental policies and procedures on it.

Finding Common Ground

Meanwhile, the visits to AWO Bayouma-Haus and Über den Tellerand, a completely different but like-minded organization as AWO, were also instrumental in realizing the need for idenfying a common ground. There is value in intentionally creating friendly spaces where migrants and locals can freely interact. Bayouma-Haus is an intercultural community center in East Berlin. They provide free legal services, hold leisure and health-related activities like yoga, aerobics, and theater; and organize intercultural celebrations that many locals in the district enjoy attending. Similarly, Über den Tellerand connects refugees and locals through food-related activities - a vital part of all cultures. Essentially, both groups simply helped break down barriers, identified common interests for everyone to bond over, and provided a space for it.

Despite the complexities of migration issues, the existence and effective operations of these centers presents the idea that there is a possibility of bringing people together on a common ground - transcending borders, cultures, and individual circumstances.In acknowledging this view, we can help build bridges of understanding and empathy between and among migrants and host communities, and returning migrants and their homes, and more. Having something simple to connect on can foster sensitivity, openness, and even possibly influence policies and actions.

Bringing Home Memories, Connections, and Learnings

In returning to the Philippines, the participants bring home newfound connections with one other – brimming with potential for future collaborations, and memories of Germany. Much more than this, they also have renewed perspectives. Diana San Jose, Executive Director of Ople Center and one of the delegates in this visit, expressed: “[…] it’s amazing for me to realize how we (Germany and the Philippines) have so many things in common and how [much we can potentially] inspire one another’s practices. I’m very grateful for this opportunity to be part of this learning exchange and I take home with me new ideas, which I hope to be able to apply back home.”




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