Middlebury

College joins in national events commemorating fall of Berlin Wall in 1989

October 6, 2009

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Middlebury College will join 28 other schools nationwide in sponsoring a "Freedom Without Walls" week. The celebration will include numerous events, all free and open to the public, including theatrical and dance performances, art exhibits, lectures, a film screening, a charity running race and a public speaking competition.

The goal of the Middlebury College project is to highlight one of the most significant events in post-World War II and German history and to illustrate the power of violence-free dissent and peaceful collaboration. The fall of the Berlin Wall and with it the collapse of European Communism came about through various forms of collaboration and organizers of Middlebury's events plan to explore the idea that, through cross-cultural understanding, any obstacle can be overcome.
 
"This project embodies one of the messages the fall of the Berlin Wall carries into the future: It is possible and necessary to achieve significant political and social change through continuous coalition building and outreach," said faculty coordinator and Middlebury College Associate Professor of German Bettina Matthias. "At this juncture in world politics, with a newly elected United States president and the world economy in crisis, it seems paramount to reestablish and reinforce connections between the U.S. and Germany in an attempt to encourage cross-cultural communication and acceptance, to learn from each other, build bridges of understanding, and to tear down walls of ignorance."

To start things off, students will build a replica of the Berlin Wall on campus in such a way that the entire campus community will encounter it as an obstacle, and passersby will be encouraged to express their frustration with this - and any other existing "wall" around the globe. At the end of the week, students and members of the Middlebury community together will tear down one part of this wall, which will be incorporated into a gala event later that evening.

Beginning on Sunday, Oct.18, students participating in the "Tear Down This Wall" public speaking competition are invited to submit their audio or video clips online. The topic for the five-minute speech is "Put yourself in the shoes of the U.S. president and record a speech for November 9, 2009." The deadline for submissions is Saturday, Oct. 24, by 12 p.m. and more detailed information is available on the website. The public is welcome to view the clips and submit their votes online.

On Sunday evening, at 8 p.m. in McCullough Social Space, students will perform short theatrical "dramulets" about life in the German Democratic Republic written for the occasion. The performances will be introduced and moderated by playwright and Middlebury College Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Dana Yeaton.

On Monday, Oct. 19, at 4:30 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones '59 House seminar room, Boston University Professor of History and International Relations Igor Lukes will deliver a lecture titled "The End of the Cold War: The Night the Masks Fell."

On Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 4:30 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones '59 House seminar room, a faculty-student roundtable discussion will focus on the issues of citizenship and national identity in Germany and elsewhere. The discussion will be moderated by Middlebury College Associate Professor of American Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity Susan Burch.

On Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 4:30 p.m., in the Robert A. Jones '59 House seminar room, Middlebury College Professor of Geography Guntram Herb will give a talk titled "Of Maps and Men: Representing Divided Germany."

On Thursday, Oct. 22, at 8 p.m. in Room 220 of McCardell Bicentennial Hall on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125), the 2006 film "Das Leben der Anderen" will be shown. In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives. The film is written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The screening will be followed by a question and answer session.

On Friday, Oct. 23, from 3-6 p.m., the community is invited to participate in a charity running and walking race, called "Breakthrough," to benefit the local women's shelter WomanSafe. The course will follow Middlebury College's cross-country running trail, and a donation of $10 per person is suggested. Teams and individual runners and walkers are all welcome.

On Saturday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m., the gala event will take place in McCullough Social Space. "Ich bin ein Berliner" is the theme, and organizers have invited several prominent Vermont politicians and hope that they will attend, as well as colleagues from neighboring educational institutions such as University of Vermont, State University of New York at Plattsburgh, Dartmouth College, Williams College and University of New Hampshire. This closing event will feature an audio-video collage written and composed for the evening by 2009 graduate Luisa Corvaria and senior Denise Hofmann. Several Middlebury student dancers under the choreography of senior Jelena Jesajana will perform a video-dance segment called "20 Years Later." Following the performance, guests are invited to enjoy a reception featuring a variety of German food and beverages.

Several related events will be ongoing throughout the week. These include short interviews conducted by student reporters on and off campus on the topic "Where were you when the Wall came down?" to be broadcast on the college radio station WRMC 91.1. The interviews will be aired each day shortly before 5 p.m., preceding the regularly scheduled program "Democracy Now." In addition, an exhibit on the Berlin Wall will be on view on the main floor of the college library, and informal meetings and discussions will take place at the Max Kade House, the Middlebury College German House, located near Middlebury Market on College Street (Route 125).

The week-long program, including updates and additional details, is available online. For more information, contact Associate Professor of German Bettina Matthias at 802-443-3248 or bmatthia@middlebury.edu

To follow is a schedule of events:

20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall
Sept. 26-Oct. 3

Sunday, Oct. 18
8 p.m.   Student Performances

Student performance about life in the German Democratic Republic will be introduced and moderated by playwright and Middlebury College Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Dana Yeaton.
McCullough Social Space, Old Chapel Road off College Street (Route 125)

Monday, Oct. 19
4:30 p.m.    Lecture
 
"The End of the Cold War: The Night the Masks Fell"
Boston University Professor of History and International Relations Igor Lukes
Robert A. Jones '59 House, Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

Tuesday, Oct. 20
4:30 p.m.    Faculty-Student Roundtable Discussion 
"Questions of Citizenship and Identity and the Shadow of the Wall"
Robert A. Jones '59 House, Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

Wednesday, Oct. 21
4:30 p.m.    Lecture

"Of Maps and Men: Representing Divided Germany"
Middlebury College Professor of Geography Guntram Herb
Robert A. Jones '59 House, Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

Thursday, Oct. 22
8 p.m.    Film Screening: "Das Leben der Anderen" (2006) followed by Q&A

In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives. Written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Room 220, McCardell Bicentennial Hall on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

Friday, Oct. 23
3-6 p.m.    "Breakthrough" Charity Race

A race to benefit the local women's shelter WomanSafe that will follow Middlebury College's cross-country running trail. A donation of $10 per person is suggested. Teams and individuals of runners and walkers are all welcome.
Middlebury College cross-country running trail, located on the athletic fields

Saturday, Oct. 24
8 p.m.    Gala Event: "Ich bin ein Berliner" 
Video-dance performance and reception with German food and drinks
McCullough Social Space, Old Chapel Road off College Street (Route 125)