Rethinking 'Us' & 'Them': Integration and Diversity in Europe

Chapters 1 › Unit 1: Do you feel like part of the 'Us' or the 'Them'? View instructions Hide instructions

Do you feel like part of the 'Us' or the 'Them'?

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Tell us: Where do you fall on the ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ spectrum?

In this chapter, you've seen many examples of how diversity is understood and contested in Germany and Canada. We imagine you may want to comment on what you've heard and maybe even share your personal experiences. The 'Us' & 'Them' course community would love to hear from you:

Here are some guiding questions to draw from:

  • How is diversity perceived in your country?
  • How are the communities you identify with (race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, sex, gender...) represented in media and public life?
  • What examples can you mention or find that indicate your inclusion or exclusion from mainstream society?
  • What experiences have you had where others perceived you in a certain way based on how you look or where you come from? Were these correct or incorrect?
  • Does your country recognize itself as a country of immigration and in which ways? Do you see your country as a country of immigration?

Now what?
Click 'Start in Journal', and fill out the entry. How you do this is up to you: You can use just words, or add pictures or links to articles or videos to highlight your point!

Is this journal assignment required?
No! Nothing in our course is 'required', and there are no grades, but we encourage you to reflect on these topics and share if you feel comfortable, so that others in the course can benefit from your experiences.

Thus, not "us"


On the one hand, at first glance, I would definitely place myself on the "us" side as a very stereotypical German: Born and raised in Germany, blond, blue-eyed,... But then, on the other hand, if you'd ask me that question in Berlin (where I study my Masters and part of this course was developed), I'd be hestiant, because I was born and raised in southeastern Bavaria, close to the Austrian border. I prefer speaking my Bavarian dialect over speaking "high German" and certainly like Bavarian culture and customs that would seem weird to northern Germans. On the other other hand I was lucky enough to go on youth exchanges to France and Italy, spend a year abroad in the USA, right now I'm doing an 8 month internship in Mexico, and generally I got to know different places travelling and on vacation. We have heard a lot about immigration and diversity in Germany in the past chapter and a lot actually matches my experience: There's people who are very open to the concept of diversity and appreciate being challenged by new ideas - and there are those that try to avoid and are even opposed to diversity in there communities, and want everything to stay the way it is, it ever was. Right now, being very blond and blue-eyed, and for Mexican standards somewhat tall, I often feel like people are looking at me (especially in public transport in less touristy areas), iike I am very different. This makes me realize, more than ever, that people seek those categories (and I don't exclude myself) because in those we find security, comfort, and solace. In the end, the "us" is nothing more than a comfort zone that ends where the "them" begins. Therefore, we should work to expand by learning to appreciate or at least begin to understand other ideas, lifestyles, and cultures. By approaching "them" (every "us" group should make that effort) we can create a common space of mutual space of understanding, THUS enabling us to live with, rather than next to each other.


Thanks for sharing your experience being as you call it a typical German in Mexico. I can imagine your traveling has taught you a lot about this comfort zone you also mention and where lines of division blur or begin. Do you think you might talk more to your peers about diversity now that you've seen these different perspectives, or is there another way to approach this than just dialogue?

over 1 year ago

I think diversity is exactly about blurring those lines. Diversity, in my mind, doesn't mean living next to each other without knowing or caring about your neighbor, merely accepting his or her coexistence. For me, diversity is exactly about this mutual approach of learning from each other and even finding commonalities, and that goes as far as I can imagine only over time and a lot of dialogue. Now I don't consider peaceful coexistence of different cultural/religious/... as bad, by contrast it is very desireable that people are able to live next to each other accepting differences - but diversity as I understand it begins only when people go beyond accepting or tolerating differences to appreciating and learning from them, even if it only aspects and parts of these differences

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