I was watching the migrant birds flying over my head, in the sky in a V formation, going somewhere. The sky was dark blue and they were flying at a steady pace, almost as if in slow motion, I was watching them, my head facing straight up to the sky until they vanish away. I didn’t know where they were going. May be if I want- ed I could have tried to find out through scientific methods their exact destination calculating the distance they flew, the reason why they fly so far and all those mere details. But I didn’t, because I knew for sure they were going home.
Somewhere safe, somewhere they can find food, a place to build a nest of their own and to ensure a better future for the next generation. We humans do exactly the same. From growing up to getting old, all we look for is a better chance at living, somewhere we can settle down, build a house, create a family, give hope to the young ones. It might not be a melancholic journey as that of the birds, but one thing that is for sure in the journey called life is that we must all die, the most inevitable truth. And yet, we keep trying. We still search for a glimpse of hope, we still strive towards giving our best so that the little ones can start their journeys with minimum hassle. Love and hope, these are at the core of our human journey.
Migration is nothing new in the history of this world. Throughout human history, every time a disaster takes place, be it man-made or natural, people had to move from one place to another. During the Second World War, Jewish people had to run away as far as even to China and Indonesia. During the great migration of USA, more then 7 million African-American people had to move to the southern parts of USA. But in almost every case, people change places just to have a better quality of life or often, even just to save their lives. Whether it is of temporary or permanent nature, journeys to unknown destinations are always stressful and potentially dangerous. But despite all obstacles and the uncertainty, people take great risk for the betterment of the next generation, even sacrificing their own lives.
Throughout history, migration has always been an important factor for progress of the society. It might be a little hectic in the beginning, but in the long run it al- ways helps both economically and culturally. Many of the big cities of the current world are the direct result of human migration. But to what extent has migration impacted our modern world exactly? In an article Ian Goldin, Director of Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, said, “Around the world, there are an estimated 230 million migrants, making up about 3% of the global population. This share has not changed much in the past 100 years. But as the world’s population has quadrupled, so too has the number of migrants. And since the early 1900s, the number of countries has increased from 50 to over 200. More borders mean more migrants.” Human movement is an age-old phenomenon and ,it is just us who are giving it new names and making it somehow more complicated. While we question the economics impact, we often forget that in USA immigrants have been the ones who have founded successful companies like Google, Paypal, Yahoo, Intel, e-bay, or even Youtube. This is not true for USA only, but the same goes for Europe as well where many great names like Karl Marx , Sigmund Freud or from the modern era, Sir Anish Kapoor, who designed the 2012 London Olympic tower, were all immigrants .
The question should not be whether migration is good or bad, but rather the whole notion of migration needs rethinking and to be reconceptualized. The fact is that migration is a natural process of human life. Whether it is from village to urban life or from industrialisation to cosmopolitan city, the modern world would not exist if people had not moved.
The recent change in world politics saw the up rise of extremism, in ways both religious and political. Fear has always been a tool to manipulate mass population with religious extremists using it on the name of God while politicians using it in the name of safety and development. Misleading stories, lack of information and systematic racial attitude, all these are making our society very fragile. Populism be- comes an extremely useful tactic in politics, although many scholars suggest that it has a strong relation with authoritarian or fascist movements. Although it would not be the right time to think that we are going backwards to several decades, some of the recent events echo the populist ideology. The rising far right movement in Europe in recent times raises a lot of questions. Most of the popular beliefs are based on myths, not facts. Social network and new media frame are putting old classical journalism at risk. Some of them are struggling even to keep up in the market. When people struggle to decide which one is fake news and which is the real one, then one knows that is bad news for the world.
In the western world, Germany has since long been a safe destination for a huge portion of immigrants and still continues to be so. Within the European countries, Germany’s immigration policies are less strict than others and have a more open attitude towards immigration laws. Berlin is the largest city in Germany and second most populous city in the EU. Berlin is a young and very international city. Around 40 percent of the populations are younger than 35. In Neukölln, around Fifty percent of children and teenagers come from an immigrant background. People from about 190 countries call Berlin home and make this city a truly international metropolis. The share of people from foreign countries in the total population is 17.2 percent, according to Berlin-Brandenburg Statistics Office, 2016 – Data from 2015.
While doing this story, luckily I stayed one month in Neukölln. Although I took pho- tos around almost every part of Berlin, I found the true spirit of my project in Neukölln. Kebab stores at every corner, cheap international phone cards and Turkish coffee always welcomed me every morning. Not for a single moment did feel like a newcomer in the area. This place has its own vibe and everyone is welcome here.
I was very new to the city and did not know so many people. However, my surrounding always gave me a certain kind of confidence that all will be fine. I didn’t feel too foreign here nor did I feel the pressure of adjusting my ways. I wanted to know people but not in a strict systematic way, rather through more of a journey. I was on my way to making new friends and knowing their stories. I always believed that young people are the future representatives of the society. Their individual decisions shape the future of the country and change the course of history. Youth are always against oppression, racism or any kind of discrimination. The protest against Vietnam war in USA, the Tiananmen Square protests in China , student protest in Iran, etc. are just a few of many examples.
While the extreme far right group is rising in Europe, I wanted to know what the second generation youth were thinking of it; how they felt about it and what they see as their role in the society. Growing up in a migrant family is already hard for them when the parents have different culture and values but the children grow up in local culture on their respective country. Identity crisis is one of the biggest challenge they have to overcome. Personal achievement will always count as it also reflects on the economy but breaking the cultural barrier and stigma need more effort. Young people who are involved in cultural activities or sports have more chances of better integration. Also they do share their thoughts and that’s how society become more multicultural and tolerant.
While the idea of second generation people often depict a sad and low performing group, I wanted to portray those youth who are changing the course of Berlin. By being actively involved in cultural practice, they are not only doing fine by them self but also creating values for the betterment of the society. Photographers, poets, theater artists, cartoonists, social workers, etc. all are trying to change the society. Using social network, like facebook, instagram twitter or even street art, they are reaching the mass population and changing the perspective of the society to a more liberal one.