As part of the “Public Diplomacy Initiative Virtual Internship Corps” of the US-based NGO Cultural Vistas, the German-Turkish Young Diplomats are providing a virtual internship to promote more diversity in transatlantic relations. Ingrid Ambriz, a master’s student from Los Angeles, is joining the core team for three months to research similarities between the Mexican American community and the German Turkish community. In this article she explains why she chose this rather unusual topic.
Germany’s unknown diversity
Los Angeles/Berlin, 01.09.2020 by Ingrid Ambriz – In the summer of 2017, I was one of 75 Americans chosen by Cultural Vistas to spend a year in Germany as part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX). This program, funded by the U.S Department of State and the German Bundestag, offers a cultural exchange between the two countries to strengthen diplomatic ties. My involvement with this program allowed me the opportunity to see Germany’s diversity in a way that I had not anticipated before. My observations of Germany’s migrant communities were very reminiscent of the communities back home and that intrigued my curiosity to learn about these groups of people.
My experience in CBYX (PPP) influenced my decision to focus my master’s thesis on themes of integration and identity among the Turkish diaspora in Germany. Specifically, I am researching how personal experiences and upbringings impact the national identity of Turkish descendants within Germany.
Similarities between the German Turkish and Mexican American community
The reason I became interested in the German Turkish community is because I personally identify as a second generation Mexican American and find many similarities between both groups. For example, both have historical ties to guest workers programs in their respective country and have established ethnic enclaves that are instantly recognizable in various cities across Germany and the United States. Most importantly however, is the resilience in both communities to be recognized as important participants in national dialogues and ensuring that they are represented in all aspects of society even when that representation is difficult to obtain. By understanding one community we can build ties that will help other communities grappling with integrations and its repercussions on individual identity.
A deeper understanding of communities of color
Furthermore, the rise of populism throughout multiple countries in Europe and the Americas as well as the increase in asylum and refugee seekers in both countries are reasons why we must continue focusing on issues of migration. We must work on ensuring consistent communication, understanding, and respect for migrant communities and especially, communities of color. By centering my research on individuals with hyphenated identities I hope to open conversation on what it means to be emotionally, physically, socially, or politically connected to more than one country and the implications that may have on the individual. I have once again partnered with Cultural Vistas to participate in their “Public Diplomacy Initiative Virtual Internship Corps,” a program funded by the German Foreign Office. This program has connected me with the German-Turkish Young Diplomats association where I know I will be working with passionate individuals who also look to establish strong relationships between their communities.
Picture source: Ted Eytan/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)