By Marie Illner

 They have never heard about “asylum law” or deportation; rather, they think people are all the same. 6-years old Johann and 7-years old Liese spoke with Orange journalist about integration, refugees, and welcoming new people in their country.

Little Johann is sitting in a big, comfortable chair. His sister Liese, is on the floor next to him. “Can we start with the questions?” says Johann; he is very excited about his first interview. The children glare curiously. I begin the interview.

“What sort of people don’t you like?” I ask.

“I don’t like people who laugh at me or ignore me”, Liese says, looking at the floor.

“Do you think there is a difference between people’s value?”

“What is value?”

“It means how worthy something or someone is.”

“You cannot buy people in a supermarket, so I think we all have the same value”, says Johann. His sister nods in agreement. I nod as well.

“What is foreign?” I ask.

“Foreign is something you do not know,” says Johann.

“What is foreign to you then?”

“The countries I have never been to and the languages other than German. And I can only count to 100, so everything above that is foreign to me.”

“Are skin colours also foreign to you?”

“No, because I have already seen them.”

“So what happens when you see something foreign?”

“I just look at it.”

“Can you explain the term refugee to me?”

“Someone who is running away,” Johann says confidently, “I have been a refugee once, too, when I ran away from home after my mother found out I didn’t do my homework.” Liese looks at him bewilderedly, but does not say a thing.

“Johann, refugee is something different,” she intervenes.

“What is it then?” I ask.

“They are not running away from homework, but from war and catastrophes”.

“That is far worse than unfinished homework indeed,” Johann admits.

“Are there any refugees in your class then, Liese?”

“Yes, our teacher told us,” she nods.

“Are they any different?”

“Different from what?” Liese checks, “Only their language’s different, but they already speak some German.”

She adds that she really likes one refugee girl after they shared a sandwich.

“Can you think about reasons why people are afraid of refugees?” I ask again.

“I do not think people are afraid of refugees. I think they just say so, but they are really scared of something else,” says Liese, “I once said I was afraid of monsters because I did not want to go to a Halloween party. Really, I did not want to leave my Mom for the night”.

I hesitate to take down my notes because I am amazed by the words of a 7-year old.


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