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Growing Old Together – The Meaning of Ageing and Care in the Migrant Societies of Germany and Turkey

© University of Hildesheim

In the German-Turkish Year of Science, the two universities in Hildesheim and Antalya examine what care and ageing mean in the context of German-Turkish migration in their cooperation project “Ageing in the trans-national region of Germany and Turkey”. The objective of the project is to sensitise students to the varied trans-national phenomenon of ageing and advanced age and social support structures in both countries and to establish long-term cooperation in this research field. From January 19 to 23, the University of Hildesheim will receive the partner group from Antalya, numbering 19 people, for a joint exchange.

Phenomena of ageing in the trans-national space

Research regarding old-age migration of migrants of Turkish descent shows that such individuals do not decide on one country, but instead maintain close social relations to Germany and Turkey in their everyday lives and travel back and forth between the two countries. The same applies for German migrants who spend their retirement in Turkey, but who return to Germany for medical care. This has resulted in different forms of supply and support structures in the trans-national space that were previously mostly ignored.

How these structures look both in theory and practice, what motives old-age migrants to emigrate to the respective country and what perspective growing old in a different country can offer will be examined by a total of 33 students in two parallel seminars. The academic leadership on the German side is in the hands of Dr. Johanna Krawietz and Stefanie Visel, initiators of the cooperation project at the Institute for Social and Organisational Education at the University of Hildesheim. On the Turkish side, the two project partners Dr. Suzan Yazici and Dr. Nilufer Korkmaz Yaylagul at the Institute for Ageing Sciences at the Akdeniz University of Antalya are responsible for leading the projects.

Experiencing differences and common ground on site

Since the subject of the research can not be entirely explored from the desk, the cooperation project, aside from regular virtual contact between the two groups, primarily offers the possibility to personally experience and exchange ideas during two guest visits.

The guest visit of the German group in Antalya took place at the beginning of November 2014. The schedule included a visit to two senior citizens' homes and an intercultural meeting centre for retirement migrants from different European countries. The group of German retirees in Turkey were subject to a special focus of the examination. Aside from various workshops and discussion forums, there was also sufficient time for the students to get to know each other and enjoy a personal exchange.

The counter-visit by the Turkish group will take place from January 19 to 23, 2015. This time, the focus of the examination will be on retirees of Turkish descent in Germany. Among other things, a visit to a trans-cultural nursing service and a workshop on the subject "Care and supply structures for older migrants in Germany" are planned.

The insights gathered by the cooperation project will be presented to the interested public in an event in Hildesheim and an event in Antalya. The project has already created a wealth of opportunities for the further development of scientific cooperation and at the same time generates contacts to organisations and care institutions in the respective other country. To be able to continue to expand the insights in future, the initiators aim to continuously expand the project.

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe