This was the subject matter the 25 participants of the exchange 2017 wanted to learn more about. In preparation of the exchange the whole group spent one weekend in Bremerhaven and attended a workshop at the „Auswanderermuseum“, which made it possible to gain insight in the reasons and causes that forced many Germans in the 19th and early 20th centuries to emigrate – among other parts of the US and Latin America – to Texas.
We also spent various afternoon sessions on exploring aspects of the history of the state of Texas as well as preparing our visits to places in Austin, Big Bend and New York City that were supposed to tell us more about the life and culture of ethnic minorities. In order to do so, the whole group was divided into five teams and each team had to come up with a working plan for the given institution/place based on the guiding question assigned to them:
1. Immigration to the US – a dream of a better life having come true?
2. African-Americans in Texas – finally equal?
3. Latin American art – offering a different perspective?
4. Mexican culture – an enrichment of US culture?
5. Working in Terlingua (Texas) – a way out of misery?
While being in Austin, Big Bend National Park and New York City, our group visited the Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, the Blanton Museum, Terlingua Ghosttown, the Bullock State History Museum and the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side. One of the major attractions of our project was our participation in the Day-of-the-Dead celebration that took place on Terlingua Cemetery
After our return back to Berlin, each team turned their research results and findings into one chapter for a film that probably not always completely answers our guiding question, but hopefully offers – as a starting point for discussion and further exploration – some interesting first impressions of a culturally diverse society in Texas and the fate of immigrants to the US in general in the past as well as today.
Some photo impressions from this year’s exchange: