By Sarah Hucal / www.csmonitor.com/

BERLIN — It’s Tuesday evening in Berlin and the Neue Nachbarschaft community center is a hive of activity. Marina Naprushkina, an artist and activist, and the group’s founder, waits by the door to greet arrivals, who are swiftly matched with partners for a German conversation meetup.

Advertised by good old-fashioned word of mouth, Neue Nachbarschaft, which translates to “new neighborhood,” has blossomed into a community of roughly 400 refugees and asylum seekers, along with a host of willing volunteers. With a welcoming ambiance reminiscent of Berlin’s many vintage cafes, the center offers visitors a chance to practice German, learn Arabic, share a beverage or a meal, and, most important, get to know one another.

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