by Czech-German Young Professionals Program CGYPP
The Czech-German Young Professionals Program is supported by the Czech-German Future Fund and organized by the Association for International Affairs (AMO) and European Academy Berlin.
The Czech-German Young Professionals Program (CGYPP) creates a growing international network for future leaders from Germany and the Czech Republic. The program aspires to give young professionals impulses and opportunities to develop their professional personality in an international and cross field program. By exchanging and sharing experiences and perspectives, the participants not only broaden their horizons but also increase their social capital. Indirectly the program contributes to the better Czech-German relations and mutual understanding.
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Diversity – Chances and Challenges

by Zuzana Lizcová and Carmen Eller
Diversity – Chances and Challenges
by Zuzana Lizcová and Carmen Eller

Chances and Challenges. What diversity means to me

Andreas Albrecht, Multigenerational House Regensburg
I was first exposed to diversity as a child. I grew up in an estate for railway employees near Nuremburg. There were four children in my family and my parents did not have much money. There were a lot of Greek, Turkish and Italian families living around us. Because we had the most space, all the children came to us. We would eat tomato bread and drink tea together. It was a positive experience. In my big family, different generations lived together. This is rare nowadays. Older people are still an essential part of our multigenerational house in Regensburg. We have a group in which we bring together seniors to play with children. People who spend time here are generally able to put off moving into an old age home for an average of a year and a half. They stay healthier because they are more involved and better integrated into society. It is also easier for them to find others who can help them. There is a mutual benefit here. Parents also have the freedom to leave their children here with the elders. Sometimes tension arises between seniors who think they know better and adolescents who are a bit rebellious. It is important to bring different generations together, but also essential to give them their space.

Kristin Frauenhoffer, ProSALAMANDER, Regensburg University
To me, diversity refers not only to the diversity of different people, but also to the diversity within a person. I learned this when I spent time living in different countries, particularly in India. The people there speak at least two languages, often even three or four. On top of that, each village has its own local dialects. In Germany, the biggest challenge to diversity is the amount of prejudice – also on the bureaucratic level. Few people in the public administration have a multicultural background. The employees are mostly Germans who cannot imagine what the situation is like for someone who has come from abroad. I think public institutions should employ more immigrants. Being foreign is often seen as a disadvantage on the job market. In fact, it is an advantage. The people we work with at ProSalamander are experts on their countries. For example, one man who takes part in the programme spent ten years working in finance in the Ukraine before coming to Germany. For a German firm that wants to collaborate with the Ukraine, this person, who knows the country and speaks the language, could be a real gold mine.

Petr Mikšíček, Antikomplex
I have a few “spiritual fathers” who changed my life. One of them was the social ecologist Bohuslav Blažek, who was primarily focused on the countryside. I spent a lot of time with him discussing the feeling we call “Sudetenland in us” – in the people, activities, minds and reactions. He greatly influenced my opinions on landscape. I was originally of the mindset that man alters the landscape – he builds a bridge or destroys it. Later I realised that landscape can also have a very dramatic impact on people. But this is not something that is achieved by the inhabitants of a place. It is caused by the energy that comes from the land. I perceive diversity as something that is good and free of stereotypes. It is not a real or imagined wasteland. It is inspiring. We either live diversely or in stereotypes – in which case we must create diversity. When we are exposed to a variety of opinions, we also have access to a greater amount of knowledge. Diversity helps us to develop faster as individuals.

Police officer, Czech-German Cross-Border Cooperation Centre
I view diversity as a situation with many contradictory facets that do not fit together, but that should be united in harmony. I have been influenced by my workplace, the Czech-German cross-border cooperation centre. Everything here was new to me. I had never had an experience like it. I also had no previous contact with Czech citizens or with the country itself. I was surprised by how diverse it was. I got the chance to explore it, which was a great experience. I would compare the current relationship between the Czech Republic and neighbouring Bavaria to the relationship with Austria. It is not worse – on the contrary, I have the feeling we get along better. My Czech colleagues and the people I have met here have all been very helpful and nice. There are no prejudices against us Germans. The biggest challenge to our ability to work together is, without a doubt, the language barrier.

Honza H., formerly homeless, cook and guide for Pragulic
My perception of diversity has been shaped by more than one person. I had a female colleague at work who came from Vietnam. My flatmate is originally from Nigeria. Every aspect of society is diverse, including the behaviour of people. It is not only about the colour of one♙s skin. Prague is very diverse and international – nothing like the village where I grew up. In my work for Pragulic I meet people from many different countries – America, Australia, Austria, Denmark... Diversity is something positive. We cannot all be the same, like clones. The only thing we have been given is the freedom to make decisions every second of our lives – whether we go right or left or do the right or the wrong thing.

Ondřej Klügl and Tereza Jurečková, Pragulic
We both come from the Ostrava region where there has never even been a trace of diversity. There are no tourists, no people of colour. The most diverse place in our republic is Prague, and the social groups, subcultures and individuals who live here have fundamentally changed our perception of diversity. We perceive diversity as something natural and very positive. The mixture of different influences, the ideas from abroad, the independent media and different ethnic groups bring with them a whole variety of life experiences. One negative aspect is the individualisation and atomisation of society and a shift towards nationalism. The biggest risk is mutual incomprehension.