On Saturday I received an invitation to vote for the Integrationsbeirat (integration committee) on December 7. I was mystified but then I saw the notices in 14 languages on the reverse (German, English, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Romanian, Spanish, Turkish and four other Slavic languages which I assume are Czech, Polish, what we used to call Serbo-Croat and Slovenian (? Slede´ci izbori za Integracioni savet su u nedelju?)
So this was the Ausländerbeirat (Foreigners’ Committee)! Now I understand.
They said I could get information if I phoned up the town hall. I phoned up and they said they have stuff but I have to collect it myself.
I am wondering whether we have to be integrated now it’s called the integration committee, or if only the committee itself is integrated? I believe the benches in the pedestrian zone are gradually being removed because people aren’t integrated. They sit out very late with small children on summer evenings and make a noise.
There are other terms that puzzle me. It’s called Beirat für Integration und Migration. What is a migrant? Am I one? There was a firm of lawyers here in Fürth, one of whom was involved in a centre for migration studies at Bamberg University. However, that firm has now migrated to Nuremberg (I think they found the Kirchweih too loud). Another problem is the term ausländische Mitbürger (foreign fellow-citizens). Am I a foreign fellow-citizen, and if so, am I the fellow-citizen of a German or also the fellow-citizen of a Russian or Turk? And if I am not a citizen, how can I be a fellow-citizen? It must mean a citizen’s fellow rather than a co-citizen.
The town hall woman told me that in the Stadtzeitung, an official publication that is sent out occasionally, there is all the information about the Integrationsbeirat. That is all well and good, but since it didn’t occur to me that the Integrationsbeirat has anything to do with me, I didn’t read that bit.