What dreams and expectations do young immigrants have ahead of their arrival in Germany?
What surprises – both positive and negative – are in store for them? What obstacles must they overcome? How do they find housing, work, and friends? How difficult is it for them to learn the German language? Do they feel homesick? And how do they view their adopted country, Germany, and its people? – In 2006 and 2007 we explored those questions in strangers, an eight-part documentary series directed by Frauke Sandig and nominated for a Grimme Award.
We accompanied five young immigrants from non-EU countries, from different cultures and social backgrounds, as they started their new lives in Germany. We shared their personal stories and experiences in their new country. The developments in our protagonists’ lives were often surprising – and sometimes quite dramatic:
Amir fled Togo at the age of 16 to seek asylum in Germany. He lived in an orphanage, finished secondary school with top grades and started an apprenticeship as a baker. Despite those achievements, his asylum application was rejected. Florina came from Mexico as a tour guide during the 2006 Soccer World Cup. Like many indigenous people she had experienced discrimination in her native Mexico and hoped to stay in Germany. But she failed to apply for a visa in time. Singer Konstantin, a Jew from Russia, tried to settle with his family in Leipzig, but had trouble finding work. His wife left him, taking their small son with her. Rashin from Iran moved to Berlin to marry the love of her life, but soon suffered from homesickness and anxiety about the future. Six years on, we wanted to find out how they are doing today and hear about what’s happened to them in the meantime. All their lives have undergone major changes… That’s four of the original five. Yong from Canton worked as a chef in the town of Singen near Lake Constance. After his work permit expired he returned to China and we lost touch with him.