Emigrant – Immigrant

For the past year, Homeland has been providing an interesting new voice, on the immigration issue. Their website says:

Homeland is a Channel 9 initiative exploring the complicated issues of immigration. While immigration is a national issue, it plays out daily in the lives of people in St. Louis and in communities across the country. Homeland explores the contemporary story of immigration in America. It’s a story of refugees and new immigrants who find themselves walking a fine line between access to and expulsion from the American dream. It’s also a story of American citizens who wonder if legal and illegal immigrants threaten their way of life. It’s a story of intertwined and complex issues. It’s a complicated story.

Fifty miles west of St. Louis in Washington, Missouri, a City of just over 13,000 in the year 2000, one would think they are far removed from issues of immigration issue, but not really. You see, in 1833, several emigrants from near Osnabrück Germany stepped off the steamboat at the Missouri River landing, that hasn’t changed a bit since then, and as they say “the rest was history”! Located across from the southern Warren County village of Dutzow, where a German writer had extolled Missouri’s virtues in the 1830s, the town has maintained a strong connection with its German heritage.

Perhaps that’s why some immigrants to the United States feel so welcome. Because here we really are aware that we are not only a nation of emigrants, but a City of emigrants. By 1850, every member, except one,  of our City Council was German. That one exception was the founders’ son, and his sister had married one of those that had arrived in 1833.   In 2010, while attending a film-class project associated with Explore Homeland, Slava Petreva-Bowman, herself a modern emigrant, examined that history closer thinking it explained why she felt so “at home” in east central Missouri. Her short documentary Keeping the Culture Alive for Explore Homeland is an interesting perspective. As far as interest in that history, that is still alive in Germany as well.  Maybe that’s why Washington is considered such a friendly town.

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1 Comment »

  1. I have to agree – Washington does have an European feel to it, and the community is so friendly! Almost everybody in town has a German name, and they know and treasure their history. Moving away from home is never easy, but it’s so much easier to fit in when you feel welcome!

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