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December 1996 - Issue No. #25 (p.15 - 16)

The Exodus of the Foreigners:

A Christmas Story

Hostility towards immigrants, anti-foreigner violence and hate crimes against "outsiders" continue to plague many countries. Here's a touching story that shows what would happen if all foreign things went home.

Once upon a time, it was night-time, some three days before Christmas. Three men walked slowly across the market square of a small town in Germany. They stopped in front of the church and started spray painting slogans on the wall: "Foreigners, go home!" and "Germany is for the Germans". Stones flew through the window of the Turkish shop opposite the church. Then, the group moved on. And there was an eerie silence. The local citizens closed their curtains quickly and discreetly. No-one had seen a thing.

"Come on. That's it. Let's go."

"What do you mean? What on earth would we do down in the south?"

"Down in the south? Have you forgotten? That's where our home is. It'll only get worse here. We'll do what it says on the wall: 'Foreigners, go home!'"

And believe it or not, the little town came alive in the middle of the night. First came the packets of cocoa, the chocolates and sweets in their Christmas wrappings. They wanted to return to West Africa and Ghana, because that was where their home was. Then came coffee, the Germans' favorite drink, in great chests and bags, back to Uganda, Kenya and South America, the home of coffee. Pineapples and bananas leapt fearfully from their crates and so did the grapes and strawberries from South Africa.

Almost all the Christmas goodies were on the move: gingerbread and cinnamon biscuits, their spicy hearts drawing them back to India. The Dresden Christmas cake hesitated. You could see tears in his raisin eyes as he admitted "half-castes like me have a really tough time." He was followed by Lubeck marzipan and Nuremberg gingerbread. It wasn't quality but place of origin that counted. It wasn't until shortly before dawn that the flowers from Colombia finally began their homeward trek, just as the fur coats together with the gold and precious stones boarded their expensive charter aircraft with destinations throughout the world.

On that day there was complete traffic chaos. Long traffic jams of Japanese cars full to the brim with cameras, optical equipment, hi-fis and electronic goods slowly wended their way towards Asia. High in the sky could be seen the Christmas geese returning to Poland, followed closely by silk shirts and carpets from the Far East.

With a terrifying cracking sound, tropical timber broke loose from the window frames and swished its way back to the forests of the Amazon. You had to take great care not to slip, for there was oil and petrol seeping from everywhere, mere trickles joining to form streams for the journey back to the Middle East. But plans had been made for everything.

Proud as proud could be, the German car industry revealed its emergency plans: a new wood-fired carburetor. Who needs foreign oil? But the Volkswagens and the BMWs began to fall apart into their component parts: the aluminum returned to Jamaica, the copper to Somalia, one third of the steel components to Brazil, and the rubber back to Zaire. And the road had seen better days when it was covered in foreign asphalt.

Three days later, it was all over. The exodus was complete. And just in time for Christmas. Not a foreign thing left in the whole country. But there were still Christmas trees, apples and nuts. And Silent Night could still be sung - but with special permission, as the song had come from Austria.

There was only one thing which didn't quite fit the picture. Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus had stayed on. Three Jews. Just imagine. Three Jews.

"We're staying." said Mary, "If we leave, who on earth is going to show them the way back again, the way back to reason, to common sense and to humanity?"

This story was sent in by Herbert Schedina, an English teacher from Germany who attended the 1995 TESOL Institute on Peace Education in Vermont, USA. The original German version has been translated into 21 languages.


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Kip A. Cates, Tottori University, Koyama, Tottori City, JAPAN 680-8551
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