German programming focuses on multicultural communities

For the second consecutive year, Cornell was awarded a grant from the German Embassy to fund a variety of programs on campus to create interest and educate students about German culture during an event called “Germany Meets the U.S.”

Last year’s focus was on business and engineering in Germany and the U.S., and this year’s theme is multicultural communities in Germany and around the world.

“We’ll be having two very distinguished guest speakers, a film festival featuring four award-winning films, an exhibit on multiculturalism in Germany, an innovation competition with cash prizes, and trivia table with lots of German swag,” said German Studies Professor Tyler Carrington.  “It will be a lot of fun, and I’m excited for this opportunity to introduce new ideas about the German culture to our students.”

The German Film Festival will feature four recent, critically-acclaimed films from Germany, each one engaging with the topic of immigration, multiculturalism, and outsiders in Germany and Europe.

Students answer trivia questions during "Germany Meets the U.S. Week" 2016
Students answer trivia questions during “Germany Meets the U.S. Week” 2016

Events planned for the second and third weeks of Block 3 include:

Monday, Nov. 6:

Germany Meets the U.S. Kickoff Event
11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Thomas Commons
Stop by the tables across from the Info Desk to view an exhibit—”Germany: Integrating Immigrants”—about multicultural communities in Germany. While you’re there, pick up some great German swag by answering some trivia questions!

Innovation Competition Kickoff
This year’s Innovation Competition revolves around the question of how best to integrate outsiders into our communities. Cornell students, working alone or in groups, are invited to submit proposals for creative and effective ways in which Cornell students, our local communities, or our political systems can effect positive change for the integration of outsiders in our society. Proposals are due Wednesday, Nov. 15, at noon via email to Tyler Carrington ( Three winners will be announced at the Film Festival that evening at 7 p.m., in Zamora’s, and will each receive a $100 Amazon gift card.


Tuesday, Nov. 7

Lunch with the German Consul General
11 a.m.–12 p.m., Hall-Perrine Room of the Thomas Commons
Join us for lunch with Herbert Quelle, the German Consul General in Chicago, as we discuss German-U.S. relations, careers in international diplomacy, and strategies for integrating outsiders into our local communities. All students, staff, and faculty are welcome. Bring your lunch from the Hilltop Café down to Hall-Perrine and join us!

German Cooking and Baking Extravaganza
4–6:30 p.m., Dows Kitchen in Dows Hall
In anticipation of the opening of the film festival, we will get together to prepare some German delicacies and then enjoy them. All are welcome and no culinary expertise is required.

German Film Festival, Film #1: “Almanya: Welcome to Germany”
7–9 p.m., Zamora’s in the Thomas Commons
“Almanya: Welcome to Germany” (2011) is a comedy about a multi-generational Turkish-German family and its navigation of a tricky question: are they Germans, or are they Turks?


Thursday, Nov. 9

German Film Festival, Film #2: “Head-On”
7–9 p.m., Zamora’s in the Thomas Commons
“Head-On” (2004), by acclaimed director Fatih Akin, tells the story of a young Turkish woman trying to break free from the strictures of her conservative Turkish family. She finds a marriage of convenience with a 40-year-old addict, but this unleashes a host of entirely different problems for her. This film is in German with English subtitles.

Tuesday, Nov. 14

Keynote Lecture by Professor Stella Burch-Elias of the University of Iowa College of Law
3:30–4:30 p.m., Hedges in the Thomas Commons
Burch-Elias will deliver the keynote lecture of our Germany Meets the U.S. event. She will speak on the legal, geo-political, and social dynamics of the refugee crisis in Germany and throughout Europe. Formerly a diplomat in the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Professor Burch-Elias founded the “Advanced Immigration Law and Policy Project” at the University of Iowa, which enables students to work on immigration law policy projects in Iowa. Professor Burch-Elias’s talk will also feature career advice for those interested in careers in law and the diplomatic service. A reception will follow.

German Film Festival, Film #3: “We Are Young, We Are Strong”
7–9 p.m., Zamora’s  in the Thomas Commons
“We Are Young, We Are Strong” (2014) recounts the 1992 Rostock riots from the perspectives of three very different characters. On Aug. 24, 1992, in the eastern German city of Rostock a rampaging mob, to the applause and cheering of more than 3,000 bystanders, besieged and set fire to a residential building containing, among others, more than 120 Vietnamese men, women, and children on what has since become known as “The Night of the Fire.” The riots became a symbol for xenophobia in the just recently reunited Germany.


Wednesday, Nov. 15

German Film Festival, Film #4: “Watani. My Homeland”
7–9 p.m., Zamora’s in the Thomas Commons
“Watani. My Homeland” (2016) is a new documentary, filmed over three years, about one family’s escape from war-torn Syria to Germany. Hammoudi, Helen, Farah, and Sara are the young children of Free Syrian Army Commander Abu Ali. They live on the frontline of the civil war in Aleppo, the only family living in a derelict warzone that was once a busy residential neighborhood. After Abu Ali is captured by ISIS, the family is forced to flee their homeland and to start a new life in a small, medieval town in Germany.