KNOWIT is a both digital and physical platform for cultural exchange. The platform, focusing on sharing ‘unwritten rules’ and traditions, provides valuable knowledge on culture and habit to help newcomers to adapt or integrate in the community.
Imagine yourself arriving in an unfamiliar city without a place to stay. You don’t speak the language and you hold a paper with an unknown street name. How would you survive? And if you do, how do you proceed?
Refugees often risk their lives or make mistakes because they don’t know any better. Walking on highways, misusing our health system
or not mastering social conventions cause negative situations and reactions, further distancing the locals and refugees.
Together with a group of likeminded people we wanted to develop something useful for the thousands of refugees coming to Berlin and Germany.
“KNOWIT uses a bottom-up approach to help refugees understand German culture better.”
Without a preliminary plan we started mapping their needs by simply asking questions. In collaboration with volunteering communities like the Peace Innovation Lab and Arrivo we organised workshops and interactive talks.
This bottom-up approach gave us a direct insight into the daily habits, struggles and problems of the refugees. Information on cultural traditions and unwritten rules turned out to be absent; yet it potentially allows for an easier arrival or stay. But providing this useful, cultural information is not only helpful for the refugees, but can also increase the understanding of locals.
“The goal is to make cultural information easily accessible and understandable for newcomers, and to create an exchange between refugee and local to gain more insight on different cultures”
KNOWIT is almost ready to launch a first pilot of the live events in Berlin (March 2016), and involvement is still growing. This first event will focus on building a community, and directly have visitors for the following events. To reach even more refugees in the near future, interviews have been translated. The platform will be developed soon, and we try to make sure that it fits the needs of people using it.
But most important is that locals and newcomers will be talking to each other, exchanging ideas and gain better understanding; thus creating powerful experiences that will last. We are excited to see how it all unfolds…
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