12. Deutsche Diversity-Tag - Raise Your Voice

Die ZESS feiert den 12. Deutschen Diversity-Tag im Mai 2024. Wir freuen uns, die ZESS Aktion "Raise Your Voice" vorzustellen. Diese Initiative ermutigt Studierende und Mitarbeiter*innen der ZESS ihre Gedanken und Perspektiven zum Thema Vielfalt zu teilen.

Im Rahmen von "Raise Your Voice" haben Teilnehmende die Möglichkeit, ihre Beiträge über die Wichtigkeit von Vielfalt in beliebiger Sprache einzureichen. Diese Beiträge können Gedanken zur Diversität umfassen und die offene Sprachwahl betont die Vielfalt und Wichtigkeit von Mehrsprachigkeit.

Wir ermutigen alle herzlich an "Raise Your Voice" teilzunehmen, um die Vielfalt an der ZESS zu stärken!

Raise Your Voice Vignettes

To celebrate linguistic diversity, students in Intermediate English 1 (section 205652) wrote short vignettes. Each vignette portrays an experience with two languages (or two language varieties) and a lesson we can learn from that experience. Students had the option of publishing their vignette for this year’s Diversity Day. Those who decided to publish their vignettes could do so under their own name, a pseudonym, or anonymously. We hope you enjoy our vignettes!

      German for refugees – experiences

      "When I was in the 8th grade, the first wave of refugees arrived in Europe. A short while later, a girl from Afghanistan was integrated in my class: we were open and helped her. The communication wasn`t easy, but it worked for the important information. But every time my thoughts were with her. How challenging would it be for her?
      She was in a unfamiliar country, with trauma from the bad experiences in her homeland.  Added to that, the German language isn`t easy, but how difficult would it be for a refugee, who potentially didn't receive a quality education in their homeland?
      But soon, she knew the first words and small sentences, with incorrect grammar. But I admired her for her resilience and her strength. Now I`m reflecting about how hard it was for me and how long I needed to learn the English and Russian basics in school. And I know how brave and strong she and all the other refugees were, or rather how strong they must be."


      "As a non-native speaker of German, my mother struggles with using the correct articles for nouns. For example, she says “die Balkon” instead of “der Balkon”, which translates to “the balcony” in English. Thus, she mistakes the correct male article for the incorrect female one. Moreover, if an article in her mother tongue is different from the German grammatical gender, she faces even more difficulties. Despite this, she is fluent in German, and she isn’t daunted by the trouble with articles.
      Many people attempting to learn German face challenges with the grammatical gender and the proper article. Remarkably, even native speakers make mistakes. So, both non-native and native speakers experience challenges with the structure of German language.
      I raise my voice against the complicated aspects of German. Because of this, I appreciate even more when people put effort into speaking it and enhancing their skills."

    by Ramona

      "Two years ago, I visited a friend in Brussels for one week to explore the city. In Brussels, French and Dutch are the official languages. Unofficially, my friend explained, Brussels' inhabitants can also speak German and English in town. My friend showed me a map of the city with the districts on it. My friend told me that in each district, a different language dominates. The reason Brussels is a multilingual city has many historical reasons. One of them was the "Flemish-Walloon conflict". Briefly, the conflict was in the 19th century and was about the "battle," if you want to call it that, between the French-speaking citizens and Dutch-speaking citizens (the Flemish) and which one of these languages would dominate Belgium. And when you are in Brussels, you will sense that this conflict still exists, not like in the past, but it still exists.
      The conflict wasn't fought with violcence, but rather politically. It was a constant up and down between these languages. The educated people in Belgium spoke French rather than Dutch. This linguistic dominance became an issue for the Flemish, as it was tolerated to have the Dutch language suppressed. The call became louder and louder to do something about it, and the "Flemish movement" was born. The Dutch language evolved and became stronger than French, and so laws were passed and more.
      It was a nice experience to have been in Brussels and to have got to know so many different cultures. You give your own culture more recognition and gain a lot of wisdom from other cultures. So, I can only recommend that you have the same experience if you haven't already.
      I raise my voice for more cultural experiences in multicultural cities, because it will shape you."


      "One day, my friend introduced me to her friend, who really loves Korean culture. She didn’t speak Korean fluently, and at that time, my German wasn’t that good either. Nonetheless, we communicated with each other in a mixture of German and Korean. At first, I was worried that we wouldn’t communicate well or our conversation would become boring. However, we always had a great time and understood each other well, as if we were speaking the same language. We shared many laughs, especially when encountering sentences or words that made no sense in the other language. For example, in Korean, we should answer “yes” to confirm a negative question and “no” to contradict it, while in German, the response is “no” to confirm it and “doch” to contradict it. So whenever my friend asked a question like “Don’t you like something?” I answered “yes” every time and she was always confused. After some time, we got used to this linguistic difference and understood each other without confusion, even when something sounded strange in our own language. Eventually, we became best friends.
      We could understand each other well, because we were familiar with each other’s cultures and genuinely interested in them. It was an amazing experience to engage in a conversation using beautiful expressions of both languages.
      From this experience, I learned that linguistic diversity actually facilitates connections between different cultures, rather than being a limitation. We could acknowledge our differences and found beauty in both languages. I raise my voice for embracing linguistic diversity."

    by Hyein

      ""No, my friend told me, "In German culture, we don't ask 'How are you?' Instead, we greet each other with 'Hi' or 'Good morning.' It is considered rude to ask about something that is not your business." I replied, "In my culture, we ask not out of curiosity, but as a sign of caring for one another."
       I raise my voice for accepting the diversity of cultures among people!"

    by Sahar

      "Not a long time ago, I decided to move outside of Portugal with the aim of improving my English in a way of leaving me a bit uncomfortable and without the possibility of changing to my mother tongue. Upon arrival, I was introverted since my English wasn't good. Various English accents were challenging for me to comprehend, sometimes not even knowing the words people were using.
      Throughout my stay, I made some international friends and also Portuguese friends who have been correcting some mistakes I make in English. Sometimes we discuss which word to use and why. It has been a steep learning curve from where I was to where I am now.
      Right now, after 3 years, given my daily routine implies using English, sometimes I struggle with words in Portuguese or even switch to English without realising that I am speaking another language.
      I raise my voice for exploring and discovering different languages."


      "As a kid I always thought that I would never learn Chinese because it’s a very hard language. But in the 11th grade, I had to learn English and one more language. I chose Chinese. At the beginning it was pretty tough to learn, because there are two different ways to write something in Chinese (but they still have the same meaning).
      For example, “I’m fine” is in Pinyin, “Wǒ hěn hǎo” and in Chinese characters, “我很好”. So it is like learning two languages at the same time. But I have to admit, you get used to it over time; the Chinese characters look challenging, but overall it felt like learning English. In other words, it was doable and I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity to learn such a great language.
      Unfortunately, there are so many people out there who hesitate to learn another language. Many of them think that it’s too difficult and time consuming. Sometimes they are right; it’s not always easy to learn. But in my opinion you shouldn’t be afraid to learn a new language. If you are interested in a particular language, there is nothing you will lose if you give it a try. The only thing that could happen is that you learned something new. And to be honest that doesn’t sound so bad, right?
      I raise my voice for not being afraid to learn a new language. "

    by Mary

      "When I was a child, my cousin and I couldn't speak English. It's very normal for children who aren't in school yet, when they don't speak English. The problem was that he was raised in the Netherlands and only spoke Dutch, while I was only able to speak German. However, every time we met each other at family events, we played and had fun together, because we could communicate using signs and we understood a little bit of the other's language due to the similarities between both languages.
      None of our family members thought that they had to be translators for us. They knew that children can like each other without needing many words. Obviously, if we meet now, we can speak about more complex topics than when we played hide and seek. However, our connection began before we were able to have conversations. So, even if people don't speak the same language, they can communicate with each other and like each other.
       I raise my voice for connecting children from different nations, so they can understand that language isn't a barrier."


      "When I grew up in a traditional Chinese family, I was the firstborn and the only child for about seven years. My family gave me a name with best wishes and expectations. They always call me: Tingting. I've become accustomed to the name and don't think about its meaning. 
      When I moved to Germany, I considered choosing an English name, which led me to wonder about the meaning of my name. I can only explain the first two words, but I'm unsure about the third word. "Ting" means something specific, but I can't find a direct English or German translation for it. 
      I felt awkward because I believed my language skills might not be good enough. However, when I attempted to use translation tools, I discovered no word could replace it. "Ting" is derived from stories and ancient poems. So now I just tell people I know: you can call me “ting”.
      I raise my voice for appreciating the root of me."

    by Yuting

      "Last year, I lived in a little village in Vietnam. There, I worked together with locals. I could not speak Vietnamese and most of them spoke no or barely any English. Thus, there was a huge language barrier. In the first months, I was very quiet and just listened because I was overwhelmed from the strange words and melody. Oftentimes, I felt a little bit lonely although the people were very friendly and cordial but also shy. 
      After a while, my Vietnamese became better, and I started to talk some simple sentences something like “I am hungry” or “I am tired”. It was nothing complicated and I could have communicated this information instead with spoken language through body language. However, it made a big difference. The people started to include me more and more. Through my attempts to learn their language, a connection was formed.
      Language can be an unreachable barrier but also the key to the people and their culture. So, I raise my voice for recognizing the importance of learning the local language when visiting foreign countries to foster deeper understanding."

    by Malin

      "Platt and Waldlerisch - Dialects can have fascinating differences in the same languages. A friend of mine lives in Regensburg and speaks “Waldlerisch” with his friends over there. It is a dialect that is really hard to understand. It shows the cultural diversity. The dialect is very melodic und has a great rhythm. It has a lot of specific sounds, which are totally different from the Nordic “Plattdeutsch”. That language is a “low German” language and has a variety of “harsher” sounds and vocabulary. For me, "Plattdeutsch" is beautiful language, which is "straight forward" and I love hearing its pure sound. The old people in my region speak it and when I listen to it, it feels like home, if one can say so.
      We can exchange our knowledge and see if there are words that sound the same, maybe also with a different meaning."

    by Leon