Understanding intercultural transitions and migrant-host relationships: how empathy, social support, and intercultural competency facilitate positive intercultural interactions between German citizens and refugees

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In 2015, Germany was at the center of one of the largest displacements in history as upwards of a million refugees, many from Syria, fled to Germany. In my study,

In 2015, Germany was at the center of one of the largest displacements in history as upwards of a million refugees, many from Syria, fled to Germany. In my study, I was fortunate enough to spend three months living in Germany and interacting with Germans and refugees to hear their stories of positive intercultural interaction. Through the integration of Acculturation Theory (Berry, 1980), Cross-Cultural Adaptation Theory (Y.Y. Kim, 1980), and Coordinated Management of Meaning Theory (Pearce & Cronen, 1980) I conducted a qualitative research project where I interviewed 44 individuals representing both German citizens (25) and refugees (19) and collected their stories of positive intercultural interactions with one another. These stories affirmed the importance of intercultural competency, social support, and empathy as core elements of positive interaction providing a platform to create future initiatives grounded in these elements as others engage in intercultural transitions and develop migrant-host relationship. Furthermore, this research underscored the need to address both host and migrant experiences during intercultural transitions being sure not to privilege either group when seeking positive paths to facilitate interaction.