The Yearn to Return: Homelands Beckon for Travelers and Refugees Alike

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Danziger volunteered with the Movement on the Ground refugee camp at Kara Tepe on the island of Lesvos, Greece.

When she was young, Andrea Danziger’s family lived in Frankfurt, Germany. Ever since moving to the States, she felt the call to return to her childhood home, and her time abroad played a role in her academic interests. She ultimately chose a double major in Political Science and German, with a minor in Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law (PPEL).

She spent a summer interning at the U.S. State Department in Munich in the section of the Consulate that monitors how political and economic development there can affect American foreign policy decisions. Soon, she took an interest in the Syrian Refugee Crisis.

“As Germany has been such a prominent player in the crisis, the event captured my attention,” Danziger said. “I was interested in learning more about refugee affairs. I wrote my PPEL capstone paper about the differences in the German and American asylum procedures, and how a country’s legal procedures may influence a population’s likeliness of accepting refugees.”

“I didn’t experience too much culture shock and travel anxiety the way many of my peers did. I had the experience of using public transportation and ordering French fries without ketchup that many of my travel companions lacked.”

The project only fueled her interest in learning more about the crisis from an international perspective and to put real faces with the numbers and legalese. She applied for and received the Stuart R. Givens Memorial Fellowship and the Hoskins Global Scholarship, and combined them with a year-long study abroad in Salzburg, Austria during the 2016–17 school year. The experience allowed her to study the impact refugees have on different European societies.

“I spent time researching refugee societal integration in Berlin, Dresden and Budapest and then was able to volunteer in a special cases refugee camp in Greece during my winter break,” Danziger said.

“The more than five million Syrians who have fled their country are straddling two cultures. Integration is often viewed as: the refugee leaves behind everything from home and learns how to live in a new society. But what is often forgotten is that refugees didn’t willingly leave, and their primary dream is usually to return home, not to assimilate, whether in Germany, America or anywhere else in the world. So for the host country, the question of where to compromise on cultural standards is just as—if not more—important as how to integrate. The responses of countries affected by the refugee crisis have been hugely diverse,” she said.

Within her Political Science major, Danziger has a specialization in International Relations.

“I hope to work in foreign affairs, and as a future political actor, my understanding of international perspectives will underpin my success.”