In Jena, there is a lot of support for people who are newly moving here, especially from abroad. In this series of topics, we introduce you to some of the people who provide support with questions about arriving and staying. We start with Judith Böhnisch, a social worker at the Caritas Migration Counselling for Adult Immigrants (MBE). We visited her in her office at Wagnergasse 29.
Ms Böhnisch, please briefly introduce yourself and your work at Caritas.
I am from Jena and I like living and working in our city. I like to contribute to make it even more colourful and cosmopolitan. Since 2017, I have been working as a social worker in the migration counselling for adult immigrants (MBE) at Caritas.
Who do you advise and on what topics? What are your daily tasks?
MBE is a counselling service for people aged 27 and older who want to stay in Germany for a longer period of time and build a life here. For younger people, the AWO has a youth migration service.
During counselling, all topics related to “arriving here” and “living here” can be discussed: from finding a suitable kindergarten or school for the children, support with German forms, simply everything. If I am not the right person to answer your questions, I will refer you to the appropriate contact.
What three or four tips do you give to (almost) every person you meet with?
The conversations are very individual and the suggestions therefore also very different. I encourage all people to ask their questions and get support. If they can’t do something on their own or are wondering about something here, it’s important to ask.
What are typical questions you are being asked about Jena? What are your answers? And what were perhaps strange questions or topics that made you smile?
For most people, it is important to get to know the city and the people when they arrive. Many people want to get involved in voluntary work. I like to refer people to the community foundation (Bürgerstiftung) for this.
It always gives me pleasure to see how people find their way. Some time ago, an Asian man came to the counselling centre who wanted to learn how to bake German bread. We then took very funny application photos with a loaf of bread in my office. And in fact it worked out for him with an apprenticeship at a Demeter baker in southern Germany.
Also, it is always a great joy when family reunions work out.
Are you from Jena yourself? Why did you stay here or move here
Yes, I was born in Jena. I only went to northern Germany to study. And when it is possible, I also like to travel. I feel at home in Jena, I met my husband here almost 30 years ago and we are very rooted here.
What makes life in Jena special for you? What is typically Jena for you?
For me, knowing many people is typical for Jena. I also like the fact that most people are open-minded and tolerant. I also think the rich cultural offerings are wonderful.
Can you tell us how you like to spend your free time?
I love being out in nature with my family. My favourite cycle path runs along the river Saale. It’s not so steep and I love the moment when Kunitz can be seen in the distance.
I also like meeting up with friends. The nice cafés are a good place to chat.
I love to read. For “bookworms”, the Jenaer Bücherstube is my recommendation: in the small and stylish bookshop you get excellent advice and exciting suggestions. All in all, the small shops in the city centre are a good tip for getting to know the region.
What do you wish to happen this year that would make your work easier?
Like all people, I am sure, I am hoping that the contact restrictions would soon no longer be necessary so that newly arrived people could finally get to know everyday life and the people here.
Thank you for the Interview!
Migration counselling for adult immigrants
Office Hours Tue 10:00 – 12:00, Thu 15:00 – 18:00 and by appointment
Wagnergasse 29, 07743 Jena
Tel. (03641) 449257