What the heart symbol means

By Oula Mahfouz “The heart breaks”. This metaphor expresses sorrow, but doctors also acknowledge a “broken heart syndrome”.  A “strong heart” may refer to a healthy heart or strong character. One with a weak heart may be sick or not resilient. Why does the word hold so many meanings? Many consider the heart a symbol of love, but the heart may also hold love’s opposites, envy, hate, and others. In fact, science shows all emotions originate from the brain. The current symbolic depiction of the heart originates from depictions of fig leaves and ivy leaves, explaining why the symbol bears… Read More

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International Body Language

By Reem Al Sagheer and Natalie Hekmat Body language often accompanies us unconsciously through life. We learn body language, especially gestures and facial expressions, from our parents and fellow human beings. However, there are mannerisms in every culture, many of which differ. This can lead to intercultural misunderstandings. A shake of the head, for example, can be understood as approval in some countries and as rejection in others. In Pakistan, Bulgaria and India, a shake of the head means approval. On the other hand, in other countries such as Germany or Syria, it marks a rejection. A thumbs up can… Read More

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Why do many people with a background in migration have their birthday on January 1st?

By Reem Al Sagheer In Germany, about 416.420 people with a background in migration have their birthday on January 1st. This is according to data by the Federal Agency of Migration (BAMF). Most of them are from Syria (about 123.000), Turkey (85.000), Afghanistan (60.000) and Iraq (30.000). Other countries such as Eritrea, Morocco and Lebanon follow with fewer numbers. Is that supposed to be a joke? Are there actually that many people who were coincidentally born on the same day or is there a reason for this date? In contrast to Germany, birthdays aren’t that important in the mentioned countries.… Read More

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Customs in the Advent season

The Advent season in Germany has many traditions and customs. Advent means “the coming of God”, referring to the birth of Jesus Christ, which many people in Germany celebrate on December 24th. Advent begins on the first Sunday after November 26th and is then celebrated on all four Sundays until Christmas. The celebrations have many customs. One of them is the Advent wreath, a beautifully decorated wreath made of fir branches with four candles on it. One candle is lit every Sunday, so that all four candles are lit by Christmas. Another custom, especially for children, is the Advent calendar,… Read More

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What is the St. Nicholas’ Day?

The St. Nicholas’ Day on December 6th is the death anniversary  of the bishop Saint Nicholas of Myra. Many legends exist about Nicholas. He supposedly shared his entire inheritance with the poor and was a very religious man. St. Nicholas’ Day is a Christian holiday during the advent season and is also celebrated by many non-Christians with their children in Germany. On the eve before St. Nicholas’ Day, children put their boots or shoes in front of the door. They hope that St. Nicholas will come and put sweets, tangerines, nuts or chocolate, in them. A common part of the… Read More

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The importance of a pearl necklace in refugee women’s lives

“The women are all very different and every woman is so impressive,” says Laura Gudd, a social worker at the Asylum Center in Tübingen. Together with Dana Pietsch and two psychologists, she works on the project “Biography work. Culture-sensitive empowerment of vulnerable and abused refugee women”. Biography work involves participants thinking positively about their own life and developing perspectives for their personal future. This method is often used after a crucial experience in one’s own life, such as having to flee one’s country of origin. Women who fled their country of origin on their own often experienced violence, coercion and… Read More

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Against heat and cold: Architecture in the Middle East

By Youssef Kanjou In the Stone Age, humans inhabited caves and discovered fire. They used it to generate heat that helped them reduce the cold during the winter. Many thousands of years later, humans were able to abandon the caves and build the first villages near rivers. They were now able to build houses that protected them from high or low temperatures and thus adapted to the natural conditions. Examples of this were found during archaeological excavations in the northwest of Syria in Tel Al-Qaramel, where the archaeologists uncovered various fireplaces and rooms with walls. They were built using construction… Read More

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Could you please spell your name?

Martha, Anton, Heinrich, Friedrich, Otto, Ulrich, Zacharias: This is the way, I have to spell my name in German on the phone, so my interlocutor can spell it right – M A H F O U Z. What is the meaning of all this and where do these names come from? The first official German spelling alphabet was introduced in 1890 in Prussia. The reason for this was the newly invented telephone. The Berlin telephone directory, however, still used numbers at that time in order to designate the letters: A = 1, B = 2, C = 3 and so… Read More

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Volunteer experience with refugee aid

“What did you personally experience during your volunteer work for refugees?” The volunteer coordinators in the Tübingen district and the readers of tünews INTERNATIONAL are looking for responses to this question. People who have been involved in supporters or otherwise between 2015 and today are invited to write down experiences from their volunteer work and send them to the refugee officer of the district of Tübingen, Hanna Hahn. She reports that she has already received “wonderful gems”, from somber reports to very colorful stories. Tünews INTERNATIONAL plans to publish the contributions in a special magazine. In addition, the volunteer coordinators… Read More

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Swimming season has started with restrictions

Public pools, thermal spas and swimming lakes in Baden-Württemberg are allowed to reopen from Saturday, 6th of June, with controlled access. This was decided by the steering group of the provincial government on Thursday, 4th of June. Nevertheless, there are restrictions: Only a certain number of guests may rest on lawns or swim in the pool at the same time – depending on the size of the area. Also, in the pools and swimming lakes, people have to keep a minimum distance of 1.5 meters. The operators have to prevent people from gathering in crowds and cuing in front of… Read More

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