As one of the oldest municipal civil rights agencies in the United States, PCHR often is a magnet for international visitors who also are in public service. Last Friday, a delegation from Germany joined a long list of scholars that have popped by the offices to get a better sense of how this agency works in balancing protection of the rights of all in such a diverse society.
The German visitors – whose positions range from university settings to halls of government – spent a couple of hours exchanging insights with PCHR staff and commissioners last Friday. It was a diverse assembly, indeed.
Turkish-born Muhterem Aras, one of the first elected officials in Germany of an immigrant background, is the first Muslim woman in the state parliament of Baden-Wurttemberg. Homaira Mansury, an Afghani immigrant, is a city council member in Wurzburg and an official in the German Social Democratic Party. Serkan Salman, born to Turkish parents, is a law enforcement official and dispute resolution expert from Berlin who also lectures on intercultural competency at the Berlin Academy of Public Administration. Sebastian Johna is a project manager and trainer at the renowned Goethe Institut, where educators and others from abroad study the German language, culture and heritage.
Having toured Washington, D.C., the visitors soaked up insights and experiences in Philadelphia before heading to New York.
“It’s always exhilarating to hear from people who are engaged in this same kind of work elsewhere, especially as they seek to learn from us and give us greater perspective on what is happening on the ground in their own countries, in ways that are far deeper than what we typically read or see in the news,” said PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau. “It was a great way to cap the week.”