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Syrian Children Saved a German Village. And a Village Saved Itself.

“I thought, ‘This can’t work, they have a different religion, our children won’t speak proper German anymore,’” said Marco Seidelt, whose 11-year-old son, Davey, suddenly had three Syrians in his class.

Others worried that the newcomers would be noisy or steal, Mr. Schütz recalled.

Halima Taha was skeptical, too.

“East Germany? Are you crazy?” her Syrian friends told her over the phone after her family was bused from Berlin to an asylum center in the east and eventually to Golzow, Ms. Taha recalled. They don’t like foreigners over there, her friends said. It’s dangerous.

But then both sides made an effort — and were surprised by how much they liked each other.

Ms. Taha, a bubbly 32-year-old mother of three who speaks German with a soft regional lilt, recalled the flowers and toys the mayor brought when he first welcomed her family to their new home. Villagers donated things to help the family furnish their apartment, including dishes and a set of antlers.

On the first day of school, the German parents greeted the Syrian families with a cake — unaware that they were fasting because it was Ramadan. There was a moment of awkwardness. Then everyone laughed, and Ms. Taha cut the cake.

Ms. Taha told her children to greet every villager on the street from Day 1 — in German. “I learned with my eyes,” she said of her efforts to blend in.

The family bought a German shepherd and grows vegetables on an allotment, embracing a very German postwar tradition. Ms. Taha’s husband, Fadi, goes fishing, like other local men.

Source: NYT > World News

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