Today’s young people will have many serious issues to address in their future, including immigration. Tomorrow’s Utopia depends on their vision and experience of this issue, with all of its’ complexities. For one week, the Tandem Guides project brought together young people from Bremen, Germany and St. Louis area teens, as they shared their life on both sides of the pond. The future is in some good hands!
In November of 2013, U.S. Traveling Summer Republic team member Dorris Keeven-Franke, and daughter Autumn Franke, visited Christiane Gartner of Kultur vor Ort in two of Bremen’s schools, Neue Oberschule Gröpelingen, and Gesamtschule West. Their Tandem Guide project, involving the study of emigration and the exhibit Utopia, was led by Katrin Bretschneider. Her workshop and script for the Tandem Guides was written (in German) for
their performances in Germany. Students were thrilled when plans developed for the young people to visit the United States, with the Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America exhibit thanks to the help of St. Louis – Stuttgart Sister Cities Int’l.. The Missouri History Museum, where the Utopia exhibit runs from November 23, 2014 until April 19, 2015,
award winning program Teens Make History, invited the Tandem Guides to visit them.
August 2014, study, rehearsals, and plans began in earnest, with
Nikolas Napierala, a Teach First Fellow with the Neue Oberschule Gröpelingen, Maria Schümann, Principal at Gesamtschule West, and Dorothea Dentler with Kultur vor Ort, to accompany the students. The students would have to develop their study of English to include the script of their performance at their upcoming visit to St. Louis. Working hard, their English textbooks included an entire chapter on Missouri, including sites such as the German city of Hermann, the Gateway Arch, and Cahokia Mounds.
The Tandem Guides arrived in St. Louis on Wednesday, February 18th, and after hours of study, anxiety over the weather conditions, and rehearsals in the gallery, the big day arrived. On Saturday, February 21st, the Tandem Guides performed for the Teens Make History group and some very special friends and guests. Their performance focuses on the Giessen Emigration Society the subject of the Utopia exhibit. They share their interpretation of the story of German emigration to Missouri, while many of their families are themselves, immigrants to Bremen Germany.
An Amtrak journey to Hermann, Missouri, gave the Tandem Guides an opportunity to visit the Deutschheim State Historic Site, the Downtown Deli, the Historic Hermann Museum in the German Schoolhouse and have dinner at the Wurst Haus.
When asked “what would you like most to do while in St. Louis?” they answered “to visit a High School and meet American teenagers.” And when Christie Staszcuk, a German Language teacher at Eureka High of the Rockwood School District wanted her students to visit the Utopia exhibit and experience a German “immersion” day touring the exhibit in German, everything fell in place for that to happen too! After a day of the German students visiting the local high school, the American students had tours in German the next day. The day included objects adopted by the German students at the Muss i denn desk as well, thanks to volunteer Sandy Schneider’s help.
Of course no visit is complete without a little fun! Monika Lorenz and the St. Louis’ German Cultural Society’s young people invited the Tandem Guides for a real American pizza party, Eureka High School hosted the Tandem Guides at their High School’s Basketball game, they visited local shopping malls and of course – the City Museum!
The Tandem Guides from Bremen, Germany
The Tandem Guides were hosted by families from the St. Louis -Stuttgart Sister Cities Int’l