It is surprising how welcome I feel in Singapore. Despite the public debate on increasing the numbers of expats in the country, and also despite the protests against more expats, nobody attacks me personally. I haven’t heard a bad word from anybody since I arrived.
In Oslo, at work a common introduction of me was accompanied by the information that I belong to the group of ‘The German Invasion’, describing the bunch of researchers and PhD students from Germany that were hired in order to provide the university with unique research and teach the students. This is a reference to the Second World War and it is meant to be funny. Somehow, it can feel hostile at times but I got more and more used to comments like that … and eventually moved elsewhere.
As Germans are hostile people too, in Berlin there happens to be a new refugee camp in the East of the city, installed in a very old former East German school, that is surrounded by protesters who want the refugees to go somewhere else. As far as I understood the refugees, who are supposed to live in the school, are from Syria. I am relatively sure they are traumatized from the events they went through but their new neighbors do not seem to understand. It appears that these are the kind of neighbors who wish for a future German invasion and praise the last one. Berlin would not be Berlin if every protest would not have a counter-protests. Still the damage is done and the refugees, who went through pain in their home countries, and on the way to this old school, feel unsafe. Do they not show the videos of thousands of refugees walking from Syria to Kurdistan on the news of German private television channels? Could somebody install one of those screens that they use to broadcast football games in public spaces and show those neighbors the results of this weeks chemical gas attacks?
I often wonder why people behave that way and why there is no empathy, no sympathy and no hospitality installed as a default.