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Government professor to give talk on student trip to Germany to help refugees

A professor in New Mexico State University’s Government Department will give a talk about the Faculty-led International Program she took with students to Germany as the next lecture in the College of Arts and Sciences’ “Global Connections” series.


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NMSU students during one of the trip’s political tours of Munich in summer 2017.
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The Bavarian Parliament in Munich (Regierungssitz)

The presentation begins at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 24 in the College of Health and Social Services Annex Auditorium, Room 101A. It is free and open to the public.

The 10-day trip, which took place in summer 2017, took students to Munich, where they worked with nongovernmental organizations helping refugees from Africa and the Middle East integrate into German society.

“Munich is in the southern part of Germany,” said Sabine Hirschauer, assistant professor in Government and the trip’s organizer. “It has become main hub of immigration in Germany.”

The students attended workshops and lecture series during the weekends and evenings to learn about the sociopolitical history of Germany and immigration.

Hirschauer said in the context of history, Germany has a “moral responsibility” when it comes to taking in and helping refugees navigate daily life.

“After World War II, Germany’s economy desperately needed foreign workers, from Italy and Greece,” she said. "Today, Germany equally wants and needs this engineer from Aleppo or Kabul for its economy, but also sees the crisis as a moral issue, in particular because of Germany’s political past."

During the weekdays the students “shadowed” NGO workers, teaching the refugees basic German, navigating public transportation, helping refugees go find jobs and apartments, and filling out asylum applications.

During this first trip, Hirschauer and the students met with a family who had fled Afghanistan because of persecution by the Taliban. After returning to the United States, Hirschauer raised money to pay for the family’s 16-year-old son to learn German.

“We are also working with one of the NGOs to provide an internship for him, so that he gets integrated into the educational system,” Hirschauer said.

The 2017 trip was the first and Hirschauer will return to Munich with students from June 25 to July 7, 2018.

“We’ll meet with this family again and see how well the integration process has worked for them - or not,” Hirschauer said.

The “Global Connections” series features faculty members’ trips around the world. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for members of the campus and surrounding community to learn from NMSU professors about the kind of global first-hand experience they might otherwise never encounter.