Migration & Identity

Conversations through experience

In Germany, nearly every 4th person has an immigration background. "Essentially, we are already a land of immigration," those were the words of chancellor Merkel in 2015. But still there are a lot of conversations about who is allowed to be German and who is not.

As a company, ThoughtWorks not only bases its success on its diverse workforce, but also we are committed to becoming aware of our own privilege and striving to see the world from the perspective of the oppressed, the powerless, and the invisible.

With this event series, we want to raise awareness, help to decrease discrimination, and to sensitize people without migration backgrounds to the challenges faced by people with migration backgrounds here in Germany. We are inviting speakers to share their voices and experiences in support of these goals. We hope to challenge our cosmopolitan (oftentimes color-blind) worldview that blocks us from gaining a real understanding of challenges experienced by the various vibrant communities inside of this country.

"Social Justice isn't just about doing work for good causes. It's also about looking at our core work and asking how it can benefit society."

Martin Fowler, Chief Scientist at ThoughtWorks

Upcoming Online Events:

08th October 2020:

“Making Germany home. What will it take for Black Professionals?”

with BlackinTech Berlin

Black professionals across the world who pursue international careers, are more than often confronted with the reality of redefining the concept of being and feeling at home. With some countries being easier than others to integrate into and forge a new sense of belonging and providing space for contribution, Germany on the other hand still feels like an unchartered territory whose map needs a bit more guidance in translating.

So what will it take for Black professionals to understand Germany as home and a place to work and find their space to truly live and thrive?

In this conversation our speakers will share with us their migration background, how they are able to establish new identities in every country they decide to settle into. We will also explore the complexities of identity and why it might be wise to actually specify what you mean when asking people “Where are you from?”

Past Events:

20th February 2020:

Migration & Identity with Gesa Dreckmann and Christoph Hassler

Growing up with Caribbean roots in Herzogtum Lauenburg in Schleswig-Holstein, the “Dorfperle“ Gesa Dreckmann shares her experiences as a comedian on stage and as an author in her book "La Dorfe Vita" - with an ease that makes even stoic Northern Germans smile.

In a conversation with Christoph Hassler, who had a similar experience, we want to find out what it's like to grow up as an Afro-German on the country side, far away from urban multiculturalism.

Listen to the different stories born of similar circumstances and start a discussion with us.

28th July 2020:

Migration & Identity with Tuğba Yalçınkaya and İrem Aydın

Migration from Turkey to Germany has a long history; starting with the first migration flow of the “guest workers” in the early 1960s up to the latest “New Wave” migration. These migration flows have created different diaspora communities in Germany. Within the framework of the event we will have a closer look at Turkey diaspora by focusing on questions as e.g.:

How did Turkey diaspora shape itself in recent years and how do these flows differ themselves from each other and why? How does political polarization in Turkey affect diaspora in Germany and the position of Germany in between?

While dealing with these issues İrem Aydın, as part of the “New Wave” migration, and Tuğba Yalçınkaya, as part of the 3rd generation of “guest workers”, will give insights into their personal perspectives on how they perceive themselves and how social encounters and confrontations shape their identities.

The talk was a joint event of ThoughtWorks and Maviblau!

Check out more information about Maviblau here:

10th September 2020:

Migration & Identity with Peter Donatus

The conversation revolved around the intersections between environmentalism, climate change, colonialism and migration with a focus on the relationship between Africa and Europe. We talked about connections between the Fridays for Future / Extinction Rebellion and the BLM movements and critically discussed the role of big businesses in each. The event was moderated by Christoph Hassler.

Meet our Speakers:

Akiko Ondiege

Akiko Ondiege

I was born to a Japanese mother and Kenyan father, and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. I moved to Montreal, Canada to study and then to London, UK for my work and finally to Berlin in January, 2017. I have been working in tech since 2011 and until my move to Berlin, I mostly moved in very diverse and inclusive ‘bubbles’. Only recently have I really begun thinking about what identity even means, and how that affects the advancement of Black professionals in Berlin. Having these conversations is critical if we are to make any moves towards a more inclusive work space for Black people in the Berlin tech scene.

Jonathan Passé

Jonathan Passé

Jonathan is a Software Developer at ThoughtWorks, he was born and raised in France, and moved to Germany in 2017. In the range of his interests are the evolution of cultural grouping, their social and political impacts.

Kave Bulambo

Kave Bulambo

Kave moved to Germany six years ago to pursue a Masters degree in Public Management at the University of Potsdam. Kave wrote her dissertation on The Governance of Mixed Migration in South Africa. Since completing her studies Kave has been working in the tech industry mainly in Talent Acquisition. As an activist and advocate of diversity and inclusivity she founded BlackinTech Berlin and other communities geared to empower, educate and uplift minorities. Kave was born in DRCongo but spent most of her life in South Africa before moving to Berlin.

Peter Donatus

Peter Donatus is a Nigerian born freelance journalist and human rights activist. He has dedicated the last 30 years to environmental activism against the environmental damages caused by oil production in the Niger Delta in Nigeria.

Christoph Hassler

Christoph Hassler

Christoph Hassler is a UX Consultant and Lead for Social and Economic Justice at Thoughtworks, working in the field of design since the early 2000s, active in the struggle against racism and capitalist exploitation since the 90s. Thinking a lot about the future of work and the role technology might take to free or condemn society.

Tuğba Yalçınkaya

Tuğba Yalçınkaya

Tuğba Yalçınkaya received her MA in Migration and Diversity with a focus on Turkey at Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel and Sabanci University in Istanbul. She is the co-founder of the German-Turkish cultural platform Maviblau where she promotes dialogue between both countries in the fields of education, arts and culture. Furthermore, her interests include racism, anti-discrimination and post-migrant societies. Besides, she is the project coordinator of the programme “Blickwechsel:

Contemporary Turkey studies” at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

İrem Aydın

İrem Aydın

İrem Aydın studied Spanish Language and Literature at Istanbul University and attended the Master Program in Theater Creation at University Carlos III de Madrid in Spain. She wrote and directed plays such as Above the Ground Under the Clouds, TürkLand (an adaptation of Dilşad Budak’s autobiographic novel), and Golem at independent theater in İstanbul called Entropi Sahne where she worked as artistic director. She participated in festivals such as the MOT International Theater Festival, the International Forum at Theatertreffen, and the Interplay Young Playwrights Festival. She produces performative and poetic works trying to focus upon and to understand the tragedy of her age and generation. Her works mostly deal with the topics “migration,” “digitalization,” and “traumatic experiences.” Currently she lives and works in Berlin.

Gesa Dreckmann

Gesa Dreckmann

Who actually says that a Northern German girl from the plains always has to be blonde and blue-eyed, dreaming of finding love with a farmer in the stable on the stool? "Such pigeonhole thinking can’t be camouflaged by any amount of cowhide", thought Schleswig-Holstein’s Gesa Dreckmann, who doesn't fit into any pigeonhole at all: Her father is a Northern German blockhead, her mother a Haitian hydrangea. What a combination, stronger than any countryside Cola-grain concoction! But how does a Caribbean pearl in the 1960s find herself in a coffee house with 500 inhabitants north of Hamburg and marry into a liquor dynasty? Love transcends all boundaries! And humour of course - Gesa Dreckmann, the youngest (and darkest, as she says) of three colourful Dreckmann kids, knows this too well.

Code of Conduct

A primary goal of ThoughtWorks’ events is to be inclusive to a diverse group of people from all walks of life. Therefore, we are dedicated to providing a friendly, safe and welcoming environment for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, appearance, disability, marital status, socioeconomic status, and religion (or lack thereof).

Our code of conduct outlines our expectations for all those who participate in our events, as well as the consequences for unacceptable behaviour.

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