Association Babel: Integration in Austria and the power of (In)-Tolerance
Today (16.11.) the international day of tolerance is celebrated. In times of massive globalization, we come more and more into contact with other people from the most diverse backgrounds. In doing so, we also realize how different we humans can be. There are cultural differences, differences of languages… but one thing should not be lost sight of : Tolerance. We interviewed Krystyna Szwankowska-Antoł, Managing Director of Babel, on this topic – read on:
Social Held (SH): You at Babel are committed to supporting the integration of people with non-German mother tongues. The teachers you employ also come mainly from abroad. How have you personally experienced your integration process in Austria and what difficulties do most of them encounter?
Krystyna Szwankowska-Antoł (KS-A): The first barrier that came up is the language. Even if you know English, for example, in most cases you don’t get anywhere. Officials often just don’t want to communicate in English. On the other hand, teachers who come from abroad and know the language are not hired into teaching positions at major institutions because they are not native speakers. Their applications are rejected without checking their competencies.
SH: International Day of Tolerance is celebrated on Nov. 16. To what extent have you experienced intolerance in your organization as well as in your everyday life?
KS-A: Personally, I have not experienced intolerance directly. But the organizations run by people with non-German mother tongues have it more difficult in terms of state aid and support for the activity.
SH: What do you think needs to change in order for society to become more tolerant and inclusive towards people with non-German mother tongues?
KS-A: First and foremost, the general view should change that some languages (and residents of the states that speak those languages) are less prestigious than others. When you meet someone from a non-German but Western state, some have a very different attitude than when they meet someone from the East.
SH: To what extent does Babel make a difference in our society on this issue, and who can get involved with you?
KS-A: All people can come to us, no matter what language they speak or what country they are from. Everyone who wants to help with the topic of integration can get involved with the Babel association. Everyone is welcome.