Diversity in all areas – that was my impression of kulturgrenzenlos when I visited their event on the Muddi Markt during KiWo. The organization kulturgrenzenlos – in English “culture without borders” – stands for cultural encounters, starting conversations and contributing to a diverse society in Schleswig-Holstein and Germany.
kulturgrenzenlos wants to enable encounters between young people who would not meet otherwise. With projects like Blickwinkel (Point of view), Ideenwerk (Idea Workshop) or the Tandem Project and other events they want to break prejudices and inhibitions and contribute to an open and solidary society, as well as show diversity.
I joined the event on the Muddi Markt, where kulturgrenzenlos had a mobile cooking station. We were able to make our own crepes, enjoy a cup of tea and chat with other people. I was able to talk to Eike Schmidt – a project coordinator of kulturgrenzenlos – and asked him a couple of questions about his experience and about opportunities to participate. Eike has been working for kulturgrenzenlos for two years and moved for this job with his wife from Sweden back to Germany.
If you are interested in cultural encounters, would like to meet new people, learn new skills, or promote a more open and diverse society – read the interview to learn more about kulturgrenzenlos and how to get involved.
Fhews: Hello Eike, thank you for taking the time to talk to me and to introduce kulturgrenzenlos to the students of the FH Kiel. My first question is – What exactly is your role at kulturgrenzenlos?
Eike: I am a project coordinator at kulturgrenzenlos. More precisely, I am the project coordinator of the Ideenwerk project. In this project we enable young people to implement their own ideas. We practically offer them a space, for them to fill. People can come to us and propose their ideas, for example, we currently have a Latin American dance workshop. If someone comes to us with ideas and says, I like to dance and would like to try out to teach people, then we try to implement the ideas.
You can either come to us on your own initiative or we also have an event team meeting every month, where young people plan events for the next month. My task is to plan together with participants what we want to do.
Info about the Tandem Project: Based on the motto “Inclusion through friendship” kulturgrenzenlos organizes tandem partners between people with different cultural backgrounds. The time until a tandem partner is found varies depending on your individual requests – whether for example you would like to be matched with a female, male or diverse person. kulturgrenzenlos makes sure to find a good match for you. Once you have a tandem partner you can join events and activities from kulturgrenzenlos together and set a frame for the tandem and decide when and what other activities you want to do.
Fhews: Could you briefly explain how exactly the Tandem Project works and how to get started?
Eike: It is very easy to get started. On our website you will find the tab “Tandem Project”. There you fill out a little registration form and then you will be invited to a little get-to-know-you conversation.
During this conversation, a person from our tandem project team will talk to you to get to know you better and to talk about your interests and ideas for the Tandem Project.
Then you will be matched and come together for a conversation at Alte Mu, where the tandem partners can get to know each other. Then you are a tandem and get a pass with which you can get discounts in cafes (e.g. two coffees for the price of one).
Info about the media project Blickwinkel: kulturgrenzenlos also has a media project called Blickwinkel – a photo project, a video project and a podcast team. Everyone is welcome to join and no prior knowledge is needed. Furthermore workshops about e.g. portrait photography are offered occasionally and there is a media action with different topics every month. To participate in those events you should write an email to email@example.com
Fhews: Besides the projects, you organize many other events, like today at the Muddi Market. Can you just come to those events, or do you have to register somewhere?
Eike: We promote our events on the website, via Facebook and we have a newsletter that goes out once a month. It lists all the events we are doing that month, and also states if you have to register.
Events like beachvolleyball are always in high demand, therefore we do that with registrations. But there are also many events where you don’t have to register.
How to register and get information: You can get info about their events on their website, Facebook, from the newsletter, but also on Instagram. They have weekly overviews as stories and monthly overviews as posts. You can directly write on Instagram or send an e-mail to get more information and register for events. Furthermore there are office hours twice a week, Wednesday from 5-6 p.m. and Thursday from 4-5 p.m.
Fhews: Where do your events usually take place?
Eike: Most of the events take place at the “Alte Mu”, because that’s where we have our base. Latin American dancing, for example, is at the Vineta Center. We play beach volleyball at the Kiellinie. There are also excursions every now and then.
Fhews: What has been your favorite event at kulturgrenzenlos so far that you’ve been able to experience?
Eike: I think my favorite event was the Welcome Event three weeks ago, where we invited all people who are new in Kiel to welcome them. That was very cool because there were many different people there.
We did that together with a study group that is currently working for refugees from Ukraine. It was a very diverse audience and it was really fun to see. Recently there has been a debate about first class refugees and second class refugees – people from Ukraine get a lot, very fast (e.g. residence permit, work permit) and for people coming from other countries it becomes very difficult.
With the Welcome Event, we wanted to show people, who are affected by this, that we’re all people and wanted to help find a common ground and reduce tensions among each other. During the event it was nice to see people from completely different backgrounds playing table tennis together. People from Ukraine, as well as people from Syria, Afghanistan, etc.
Through these projects, people just come together and see each other as people, and that’s nice
Fhews: And as a final question – Besides the things we already talked about, are there any other ways to get involved?
Eike: You can also help organize individual events. For example, there is the international language cafe – you can just join in, but you could also help organize it and be part of the event team. We are happy if people want to help.
Another opportunity is, that you can also get involved in our organization. We have an orga team and a volunteer board. If people want to find out how such an organization as kulturgrenzenlos actually works, that would also be an option. The board is a real honorary position where you commit yourself for one year. You can visit the organizing team and take a look behind the scenes. But you should know what you’re getting into, there are already some orga-points that have to be discussed there. Personally, I find it very exciting to see how we work together there, how we work together as an organization. It’s just nice to work in a team, there is no boss, everyone works together.
Fhews: Thank you so much for your time, I look forward to attending more events from kulturgrenzenlos.
After the interview I enjoyed hanging out at the Muddi Markt and talked to several other people either working for or volunteering for kulturgrenzenlos or people who found connections through kulturgrenzenlos, when first moving to Germany.
Something I thought is unique about the organization is that because so many people with different backgrounds and stories will meet – no event will be like the other.
No matter if you want to make new friends, learn about different perspectives, cultures, languages, participate in workshops or help with the organization, kulturgrenzenlos has lots of opportunities to get involved and widen one’s own horizon.