Germany has accepted over one million refugees in the past couple years, and the unique challenges that accompany adjusting to life in a new land with a new culture seem to be getting highlighted at public pools. After a New Year's Eve that saw hundreds of harassment cases reported, Germans are concerned about sexual assault by refugees and asylum seekers. Public pools, in particular, come to mind here. One German town banned adult male refugees from its public swimming pool. However, not all are taking that approach, but are instead anticipating culture shock and coming up with ways to ease the transition for everyone.
Longtime German residents are used to rules enforced at public pools, but many refugees are not. These rules include respecting personal space, observing proper pool hygiene, and knowing how to swim before entering deeper water.
At one of Berlin's largest public pools refugees and Berlin residents swim together, and social worker Hartmuth Kurzhals aims to keep the peace by making sure everyone understands the rules. His initiative, called "Bleib Cool am Pool" or Stay Cool at the Pool, enlists a variety of conflict mediators from immigrant backgrounds to patrol the pool and help educate refugees on German pool culture. Rules are also posted on pool walls using friendly cartoons.