IT IS the enriching experiences brought by those of different cultural backgrounds which make immigration such a necessity for our society.
That is the message from exchange student Kristina Wolf who has temporarily enrolled at the University of Chichester from her homeland in Germany as she follows aspirations of becoming an international English teacher.
“Immigration opens our way of thinking to see things differently,” she says, “we learn so much from the stories of those from different parts of our world.”
The 30-year-old has joined the international office of the University of Chichester as part of the Erasmus student exchange programme to experience British culture and promote the importance of learning at higher education establishments across the European Union.
An English and history student by definition, she works part-time at the University of Duisburg-Essen in West Germany: a region which made headlines last year for sheltering thousands of refugees who fled from the Syrian civil war.
“When the refugees initially arrived there was a fear among the population but Germany did very well to integrate and support them,” she says, “and those who fled persecution in their homeland now have a new life – many have enrolled at the University.”
Ms Wolf acknowledges that she is a student of the world: born at the Kazakhstan border, just a few hundred metres from China, she retains a strong German legacy passed down from her grandparents - who themselves fled Nazi rule in the 1930s.
She and her family moved back to north Rhine-Westphalia following the fall of the Berlin Wall but has preserved many of her childhood cultural values which, she admits, were the result of her international upbringing.
“After the Second World War many Turkish citizens crossed the border into Germany, just as many residents from the Soviet Union came to the country in the early 1990s, so immigration and integration in my home region has always been very important.
“One of the students of my class is a migrant who fled Syria last year. He left his entire life behind, including his family, but is now working hard towards getting an education in Germany – it is wonderful to see.”
The Erasmus programme on which Ms Wolf has enlisted was established by the European Union to promote diversity among higher education establishments by covering the expenses of studying abroad.
As part of her temporary placement the trainee teacher has joined a group at the University who are hosting an event in Chichester aimed at raising awareness of the #WeAreInternational campaign.
The movement, which is being supported by more than 100 universities across the UK, has been established to ensure higher education establishments remain diverse and inclusive communities of international scholarship.
The University-led event, which is to be held in Chichester on Monday 13 March, aims to also raise funds for the newly-launched Vice-Chancellor's refugee scholars fund which supports those in need.
Ms Wolf adds: “It is our responsibility to build bridges and commit ourselves to remaining inclusive. From my time spent in Britain I have noticed the kindness of people here – this is something I will take back to Germany.”
To find out more the #WeAreInternational campaign go to www.weareinternational.org.uk.