Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät - Geographisches Institut

Logo Refugees Welcome HU

Zukunft gestalten

an initiative for refugees at campus Adlershof




Faces of the initiative (Makki, December 2017)


The initiative Zukunft gestalten (Shaping future), based at the Geography Department of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the Humboldt University of Berlin supports refugees on their way to the universities of Berlin and offers practical help for the participants of all backgrounds for their successful integration into the social and cultural life of Berlin. Through a guidance and support with different programs we want to help them with their preparation for their course of studies, make their first steps in the everyday life easier, connect them, increase their chances on the labour market and expand their intercultural competences. Here we highly rely on the students and employees of the department, who engage themselves in an admirable way. Our offering consists of a mentoring-program, a consultation about studying in Germany and a thematic workshop about studying and the work life.



On this page:

1. Our offers

1.1. Mentoring-program

1.2. Consultation

1.3. Workshop

1.4. Educational and free time activities

2. Previous actions

3. Contact



1. Our offers


1.1. Mentoring-program


We offer a mentoring-program for refugees who are interested in studying. This means our student assistants look for suitable partners, who then support them with issues related to bureaucracy and the universities:


  • How does the program "HU4Refugees" of the Humboldt University of Berlin work?

  • How do I apply for a university?

  • Who can translate and acknowledge my documents?

  • Which courses of studies fit my interests?


The mentors help their partners, the mentees, with all of such questions and can additionally help with practicing the language and introduce them into the divers life of Berlin. The Mentors and mentees decide on their own about how they want to structure their cooperation. The reasons is, that in every tandem different issues are being dealt with.

Our two student assistants always stand on their side with guidance. On a monthly base they also organize meetings where all participants can exchange experiences and discuss their progress. For this additionally our groups in social media and the mailing list can be used. To be able to provide the best support for everybody, we rely on the experiences and knowledge of all participants of Zukunft gestalten and therefore wish for their regular cooperation.

Those who are interested in becoming a mentee or a mentor can send an e-mail to at any time.


1.2. Consultation


Monday 05 - 07 p.m. Room 0'101 Rudower Chausse 16
12489 Berlin



The consultation about studying-related topics takes place as a consultation hour every Monday from 5 to 7 p. m. in room 0'101 of the Geography Department. It is being offered by our two student assistants and also completes the mentoring-program. Topics which can be dealt with include for instance the acknowledgement of documents, the writing of motivation letters and the search for scholarships or for suitable courses of studies.

To get an appointment for the consultation hour, everybody who is interested can send an e-mail to A raw description of the problem or the questions helps us for providing a better consultation.


1.3. Workshop


Our workshop about studying and the work life takes place monthly on the given dates (please see below) in room 1'101. Here we want to support refugees of all perspectives in finding their ways to the universities and into the labour market. The topics include for example introductions into the scientific working, the organization of the own studies or the correct writing of the application documents and the search for internships. All the contents get worked out together by the refugees, volunteering students and employees and invited guests. Therefore we can rely on a lot of knowledge.


The upcoming dates:


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CV workshop (Liehr, May 2018)


WI 5

Group work in the computer room (Liehr, May 2018)


WI 2

Working out of contents together (Bayat, May 2018)


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Fun while discussing (Bayat, May 2018)


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Workshop about scholarships (Liehr, July 2018)


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Introduction to research scholarships by Dr. Mohamed (Liehr, July 2018)


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Discussion of the contents (Liehr, July 2018)



1.4. Educational and free time activities


To bring all participants together, provide knowledge, a divers program and fun, we offer our educational and free time activities on a monthly base. So one can get to know new people on an afternoon in the climbing hall or receive exciting new facts about the German history on a trip to a museum. We spread all information over our mailing list and the groups in social media.



2. Previous actions


Begegungskurs and German classes


In February 2016 our first Begegnungskurs took place. Two times a week the participating refugees, mostly from a near emergency shelter, received introductions into the German culture and everyday live and studied the German language intensively. This was only possible because many volunteering employees and students of the Geography Department of the Humboldt University of Berlin engaged themselves admirable on many ways. So temporary up to 60 participants at once could be looked after in the rooms of the department. Fled women could get special support on their own course only for and given by women, accompanied by our own childcare.



German class at the Geography Department (Mohamed, August 2016)



Blackboard at the end of a class (Bayat, March 2018)


We always paid high attention on an intense contact between the refugees and volunteers. These got prepared for their work through trainings including the psychological handling of challenging situations, flight and cultural differences. All participants agreed on a code of conduct. All in all here the two scientists of our institute Dr. Mohsen Makki and Dr. Mohamed Mohamed were crucial for the fast success of our programs, as they made use out of their own experiences from their flights from Iran and Syria. They engaged themselves on many ways for the refugees and volunteers. Weekly meetings and the exchange of experiences served the professional care for the volunteers and allowed for the high quality of our offering.

By request of the participants the contents switched more and more to the language and out of the Begegnungskurs our German classes got started in summer 2016. They took place two times a week as well and got carried out with the help of many volunteers, which were mostly students. Here our participants made big steps forward in the fields of listening, reading, writing and grammar and the free speech. Parallel we continued to deal with topics about culture and practical hints for instance regarding applications for work. The contents got prepared by our student assistants. Participants with an especially high potential received extra support and we were always happy to get lots of information from the participants about their cultures and home countries. The opportunity to get in contact with students and refugees got made use of frequently. Over the social networks all participants got informed about any important news.

Because of the changed demand of our participants, the German classes turned into our thematic workshop in April 2018.



Multi day excursion to Franconia


In July 2018 we as Zukunft gestalten carried out our second multi day excursion for the Mentoring – Program. This time our destination was the German region of Franconia in the north of Bavaria, which we could explore for 4 days with the vast support of a number of employees of the department and the huge engagement of all participating mentees and mentors. Here the reimbursement of all costs by the DAAD and the provision of two buses by the Humboldt University Berlin were a big help for us.

Together we could connect to our achievements from the excursion to the island of Rügen in September 2017 and to our work in Berlin. The support of our mentees regarding their future studies, the mutual exchange, networking between all participants and teaching of extensive knowledge about another exciting part of Germany were again in our focus. Topics, related to the region, had to be prepared and presented in form of a short presentation by the mentees. In the following discussions, all participants were requested to engage themselves by asking questions or share additional information. We already noticed huge improvements with the preparation and presentation of the contents. Then, with our activities on site, we could further increase our knowledge about the region and created a space for an intensive exchange between everybody. We were for instance able to learn a lot about the nature of the Fränkische Schweiz with a hike to the top of the Staffelberg or through discovering the cave “Teufelshöhle” in Pottenstein, widen our view on the traditions and role of religion when visiting the Bamberg Cathedral and the surrounding old town and could enjoy the shared spare time at the summer toboggan run and camp fire.

With the numerous shared experiences and adventures, also this excursion created a very familiar atmosphere which allowed for a lasting strengthening of the cohesion of our group. For that, we want to once again thank all participants and involved people for making this possible!



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Presentation at the "Teufelshöhle" (Liehr, July 2018)


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Introduction into physical Geography, Dr. Mohsen Makki (Bayat, July 2018)



Presentation and discussion on site (Liehr, July 2018)



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Discovering treasures of the region (Mohamed, July 2018)


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(Bayat, July 2018)


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The excursion group, Franconia 2018



Literacy course


Our five months literacy course for refugees took place in 2016. Every Friday the participants studied the German alphabet intensively over four hours. Persian and Arabic native speakers of the Geography Department took response as teachers. They gathered and created the teaching material, developed teaching methods like various learning games and group works and then taught the contents together. The Der Paritätische Berlin supported us financially. The participants made such huge progress that we could continue supporting some of them through our Begegnungskurs and German class.



Learning together (Makki, August 2016)



Multy day excursion to Rügen


As a part of our mentoring-program we went on a three day excursion to the island Rügen in September 2017. This was only possible through the provision of the institutes buses and through the vast knowledge of the employees of the Geography Department and the financial support of the DAAD. Our most important aims: The increase of the participants abilities regarding their future studies, the teaching of knowledge regarding the culture, history and natural environment and the further networking of the refugees with each other and with the participating students and employees, were reached here. To do so, the participants were for instance being involved through the preparation and presentation of relevant topics and became active in a variety of activities. Together we could for example discover the fantastic nature of the Nationalpark Jasmund, deal critically with the topics national socialism, anti-semitism and fascism in the Dokumentationszentrum Prora and exchange facts about our different cultures and learn new dance moves at an evening at the campfire. Through this excursion many barriers were being overcome and many strong connections grew between the participants. This will always be a very special time for us.



The excursion group (Makki, September 2017)



Introduction to the nature of Rügen (Bayat, September 2017)



Presentations in the national park (Bayat, September 2017)



Visit of the exhibition MACHTUrlaub (Bayat, September 2017)



Shared free time (Soltani, September 2017)



Group discussion at the beach (Bayat, September 2017)



Integration through sports


The acting as a team, competition and ambition, intense contact and many shared experiences are the great advantages of sports, which can be perfectly used for the integration of refugees and the intercultural exchange. Whether during the childcare in the emergency shelter at the beginning times of our initiative, the many rounds of volleyball in the park or at a day in the climbing hall, we always enjoy it to bring our participants together through physical activities. We had really special days at the Märkischer Kanuverein 53 e.V., where we could explore the waters of Köpenick together with the professional coaches of the club in 2016 and 2017. Next to huge fun while being out paddling, we also enjoyed the beautiful evenings at the campfire.



Trip to the climbing hall (Makki, March 2017)


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Paddling on the Dahme (Soltani, July 2017)



Cultural evening at the Pyramidengarten Berlin-Neukölln


In the summer of 2016 we could use the Pyramidengarten Berlin-Neukölln for a cultural evening and a colourful program. All participants engaged themselves here in the organization and carrying out of the evening. Employees of the institute, the refugees and students cooked together, set up the garden and organized the transport. During the grilling, singing and dancing, the games and many exciting discussions many new connections came into being. Next to the fun, this evening was very important for everybody to get to know and exchange themselves with each other.



Great atmosphere in the garden (Hoffmann, August 2016)



Grilling together (Hoffmann, August 2016)



Acute emergency assistance


Whilst a neighbouring gymnasium was turned into an emergency shelter for refugees in December 2015, the history of Zukunft gestalten began. In the beginning foremost employees of the Geography Department, with special emphasis of Dr. Mohsen Makki and Dr. Mohamed Mohamed, engaged themselves on many ways. The management of the shelter got support in the organization, donations got collected, a childcare was offered and an access to the library and internet was organized. Furthermore, especially with the help of the two stated scientists with their own experiences with flight, in conflicts between refugees, volunteers and authorities a mediation took place and difficult social confrontations could be solved. Additionally the volunteers accompanied the refugees on doctor and authority visits and offered support for the search for places in kindergartens. Special actions were for instance the provision of the catering for the Humboldt-Meile 2016 and 2017 by families affected from flight, which was also made possible with the help of our volunteers. All in all these were really moving months, in which our help was highly needed and very often used. On many ways this support continues until today.

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At the Humboldt-Meile 2016 (Liehr, April 2016)



Education as a key for integration 


To our core concept belongs the importance of an increase in the knowledge of the refugees and volunteers about the cultures, current processes in the societies and the histories of the different homelands, to achieve a successful exchange and integration. Beside the trainings for the volunteers by employees with own experiences with flight, the introductions of refugees into the culture and everyday life in Germany, for instance in the Begegnungskurse, here our educational and free time activities are an important mean too. Together we frequently visit exhibitions or museums and organize cultural or movie evenings. So, also especially through the many interesting discussions, lots of new knowledge can be received. Here the great support of the engaged employees of the institute and students and the financial support of the DAAD are a big help for us.



Visit of the Willy-Brandt-Haus (Makki, June 2017)



At the Natural History Museum, Berlin (Liehr, September 2016)



Visit of the Aquarium Berlin (Liehr, November 2016)



Fun at Treptower Park (Makki, June 2017)




3. Contact:

Humboldt University of Berlin
Geography Department
Rudower Chaussee 16
12489 Berlin


  • general information
  • requests regarding the mentoring-program
  • appointments for consultation

PD Dr. rer. nat. Mohsen Makki (program management)

Negar Bayat (student assistant)

Philip Liehr (student assistant)


Our partners


German Academic Exchange Service                                 




Der Paritätische Berlin                                                                       





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