Berlin is one of the most exciting European capitals. Here everything seems to be possible. A young person, that aspires to explore life, gets a chance to be whatever he or she wants to be. The city breathes with freedom. It inspires a lot of people from all the ends of the world to come and stay. The natives probably can see its changing from year to year, as it gets more international, open, less chamber and private. A lot of them would agree with the statement: "Berlin is not Germany". This enclave contains a variety of different cultures and lifestyles, which co-exist in a unique rhythm of a big metropolis... or rather a union of smaller regions?
More than thirty percent of Berlin's population has an immigrant background. You can travel around its‘ twelve boroughs and meet people from Turkey, Liban, Georgia, Kazakhstan, India and so on. The most significant minority is the Turkish one. More than 100 000 people coming from this country are living in Berlin. The second place is taken by Polish immigrants (47 000). Italy, Serbia, Russia, Bulgaria, France, USA are represented by a twice smaller amount of inhabitants (15 - 20 thousand from each country). I learned about the presence of other ethnicities by trying out the food they cook. The Kreuzberg neighbourhood was for me a revelation of tastes, textures and temperatures. A big part of a tradition of any nation lies on a kitchen table. Yes, you can learn a lot about the variety of the world by consuming falafels, döner-kebabs, hachapuries, borschchs prepared by those, who know what actually the names of those dishes mean. Those nouns are pretty assimilated with Berlin. It's hard to state whether the same can be said about the cooks. Those, of earlier waves of migration, are often staying in the native cultural circle. The younger ones speak both German and their mother tongue, connecting different dimensions of their identities.
After Western Germany and Turkey signed the labor recruitment agreement in October 1961, tens of thousands of turkish low-qualified Gastarbeiter left their homes and began a new life working for German industry. They brought their families. Soon the neighborhoods near factories, left by German dwellers, were becoming more and more Turkish. Nowadays' Neukölln is the example of such a borough, functioning like "parallel societies" do. They have their shops, schools, mosques. The kids or grand-children of immigrants may be a bit more integrated into a mainstream multicultural community. It depends on whether they went to a German school, or the one for minorities, whether they were playing football only with German kids, or those of their own origin. Without the German language their prospects are not wide. They might end up staying in their closed cultural circle, selling döner-kebabs, for example. A lot of immigrants live in the “problematic” districts of Berlin. These areas are characterized by a high unemployment rate (roughly 30 %), poor education and German language skills, drug abuse and the threat if hostility by nationalistic groups.
State projects aimed to integrate citizens with migration background foster the changes in the system of education, labor law, minority rights. They promote different types of diversity, including acceptance of different cultures, ethnicities and religions among all the Berliners. The Berlin Wall dividing city on two was destroyed twenty nine years ago, the walls between districts are being built instead. Marzahn and Lichtenberg districts, known for being strongholds of neo-Nazis, are dangerous places for those, who represent Berlins' diversity - be it a third-generation immigrant or a homosexual. The disproportion between those two opposite groups in parliament is a sad fact, which might influence the social dynamics in the future and change the city significantly.