How We Integrated a Syrian Refugee in Our Sulzbach Office

During the past years Europe has been the desired destination of millions of refugees seeking safety and shelter. Not only for Germany this new situation means a big challenge for society. It is a huge responsibility to successfully integrate refugees with a permanent residence permit into our society, culture, language and work environment. That’s why in 2016 various employees from the Frankfurt and Sulzbach site founded the “Celanese refugee initiative Rhine-Main”. Under the umbrella of this initiative we took a step further and were very proud to have our first refugee intern, Mohamed Takika from Syria, working with us in the Celanese Commercial Center in Sulzbach, Germany, in January and February.

Mohamed was born in Idlib near Aleppo (Syria) and is 26 years old. He holds a law degree which he received at the University of Aleppo. When the war came too close and life became too dangerous he decided to take refuge. After a long and dangerous journey across Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria he finally arrived in Germany at the end of 2015. He found shelter in one of the refugee camps in central Germany, made his way through several camps and German bureaucracy and eventually got transferred to a refugee shelter  in Sulzbach – all that with little English and initially no German. Within a year he studied and also taught himself German and is now able to have a proper conversation in this new language.

He has spent 5 weeks with us, for instance with the legal department, procurement and HR. Our objective was to offer him the opportunity to acquaint himself with the German office work environment and further practice his German. However, this is not as easy for him as it sounds. Being used to his native language – Arabic – Mohamed had to get used to a whole new alphabet, reading from left to right and a laptop keyboard with letters he has never used before. And this is only a minor share of all the cultural differences he experiences in Germany every day.

It was a wonderful and enriching experience to have Mohamed working with us. He put a lot of things we take for granted in perspective, made us see the refugees’ situation from their point of view and understand that integration is a lot of work for us all. In addition, he also opened a window to a different culture and a different world for us. He is a very polite and refined young man as well as an impressive role model for courage and stamina which is so energizing and from whom we all can learn a lot.

After his 5 weeks with us, we co-operated with a law firm in Frankfurt where during a long-term internship he will learn more and be able to extend his experience with regards to his background in the legal sector.

We wish him all the best.

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About the author


Dorothee Harre is Commercial Director for Emerging Regions at Celanese. In her free time she enjoys traveling and reading.

There are 12 comments. Add yours.

  1. James Cockerham says:

    Thank you, Dorothee. A fantastic piece of news to share. Among all of the doom and gloom that is projected through the media, it is heart-warming, to say the least, that togetherness is not obsolete for, together, we can achieve anything. All the very best, Mohamed.

  2. Todd Elliott says:

    what a great example of living in a global community – agree together we can achieve more, thanks Dorothee for sharing

  3. Ruth Castillo says:

    What a wonderful news to share, thanks Dorothee. I am proud to hear the company is actively engaged and committed to improving the communities we touch.

  4. Mirjam Schmidt says:

    It was and still is fun to “teach” him powerpoint. His first presentation is almost completed 🙂

  5. Susan Rahe says:

    It just takes a little extra effort by each of us to make a world of difference! Great work, Dorothee – to you and the CE team in Sulzbach. You have supported Mohamed’s life – and that will have a positive ripple effect!

  6. Barbara Richards Pitney says:

    My father George Richards was VP of Celanese with George Snyder in the 1950s. He migrated to the USA wen he was 30 and with an accounting background worked originally for Celluloid, Newark, NJ.
    He would be so proud of this program. He valued the opportunity that the USA offered him and in return was a beloved head of Celanese working with people around the world. His untimely death at the age of 58 was mourned by all.

  7. Rolf Kuropka says:

    It is fantastic news that my “old ” company gives refugees’ a chance for an internship. Wonderful Dorothee and the others that you spend personal time for this initiative! Here in Hamburg so far we managed to build up a little network between some companies to exchange experience on it and just Monday a new trainee from Afghanistan started with us. Hopefully you can inspire a lot of neighbor companies. Mohamed: my best wishes for your future – may your dreams materialize Rolf

    • Mohamed Takika says:

      Ich bedanke mich für Alles, morgen ist der letzte Tag bei Celanese.
      Ich wünsche Ihnen und Celanese viel Erfolg.
      viele Grüße
      Mohamed Takika

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