Saturday, August 2, 2008

Guten Morgen! Today is Saturday, August 2, 2008

CASPER, WYOMING -- It’s straight to work this morning at the Germans from Russia convention. Seven workshops begin at 8:30 (see the list below), but then we get down to “business.” The GRHS Annual Business meeting moves into the Ballroom at 9:45. At 10:45, the AHSGR Board of Directors meets in Adrienne’s, the GRHS Board gathers in Champagne, and the IFAHSGR Board of Trustees convenes in the Senate Room. All three Boards are scheduled to conduct elections.

"Anything but boring!" That’s how Dr. Mila Koretnikov characterized her family’s life in Germany over the past 18 months. As the luncheon speaker Friday (8/1) at the International Convention of Germans from Russia in Casper, the relatively young Dr. Koretnikov told the story of her family leaving Russia for a new life in Germany. One-Way Ticket from Russia to Germany: Aussiedlers in the Beginning of the 21st Century recounted how, by 1998, nearly all of her known relatives – more than 300 – had gone from Russia to Germany. She shared the experiences of transitioning through “Friedland” in Lower Saxony to finally settling in Anstatt. The heavy migration of Aussiedlers has plummeted in the last few years, from nearly 100,000 a year at the start of the millennium to fewer than 6,000 in 2007. Because they are perceived as “different” -- language dialects and media perceptions about immigrants – it remains difficult for Aussiedlers. Of her family’s experience in Germany, she says, “…after 15 years, we still don’t feel at home.”

Another day at the shops! We’re talking workshops – 21 of them today – and there truly is something for everyone. For the early birds (8:30 a.m.) here’s the lineup:

Kherson Taurien & Ekaterinoslav Region-Adrienne’s
Looking at the Land of Your Ancestor-American
Documents on the Famine of 1921-1922 in the Volga-Ballroom A
From Steppe to Steppe: Black Sea to Volga German Kansas-Ballroom B
Grossliebental Area Research-Ballroom C
Archive Research in the Lower Volga Region-Tiffany
The German Brotherhood-Wyoming

This afternoon, the first round of workshops begins at 2 o’clock with:
Germans to Prussia, Poland to Russia-Adrienne’s
History of a Colony-How to Restore a Family History
Understanding Russia in the 21st Century #1-Ballroom A
Germans from Russia and North Platte Valley Ag-
Ballroom B
The Long Trek-
Ballroom C
From Steppe to Steppe-Tiffany
Lost in Russia-

The final workshop sessions of the convention start at 3:30 p.m. with:
Hungary to Russia-Adrienne’s
Our German Russian Relatives in South America-American
Understanding Russia in the 21st Century #2-Ballroom A
Northern Volga Protestant Villages-Ballroom B
The Long Trek-Ballroom C
The Development of the G-R Settlements in North Caucasus-Gourmet
Southern Protestant Villages of Kanton Kamenka-Wyoming

Appetites were whetted yesterday by a mid-afternoon Kuchen Break, and now some of “unser Leute” are going to figure out how to become full-fledged purveyors of tasty Kuchen! They are those lucky souls who pre-registered for the 2:00 p.m. Cultural Cooking Class at the Mills Senior Center. Del Paulson of Pierre, South Dakota, along with Diane White and Nancy Borrell of Lincoln, Nebraska will be joining forces to share tips on making great Black Sea and/or Volga Kuchen. Not to despair for the many of us who didn’t sign up for the class – we can still partake of some tasty Kuchen at 3 o’clock this afternoon between workshop sessions!

Erin Deis and Gwen Schock Cowherd treated the audience to readings of their AHSGR award-winning stories yesterday morning during the Folklore Symposium of the International Convention of Germans from Russia. Gwen’s Second Place entry “The Pendulum Still Swings” mesmerized the audience with an ancestral tale from the northern plains – German-Russian families swinging like a pendulum between their Old World heritage and modern day society. First Place was won by Erin Deis of California. Her “Leaving One Home in Search of Another” lovingly recounts her grandmother’s trek from Saratov, Russia, to Fresno, California. That's Erin on the right, receiving her award yesterday. Then the GRHS spotlight shone on winners of the Youth Essay Contest, which lured entries from nine states and overseas. Alyssa Miller’s essay about her immigrant grandparents took First Place in the University division; Ryan Hoff was runner-up. The Senior High Scholarship Award went to Rebecca Anhorn, while Sarah Mettler, who was runner-up, read her essay for the audience. Thanks to Dick and Vera Hoff for providing this complete list of winners for the GRHS Youth Essay Contest. Check out award photos within the gallery at Casper Memories.

Professor Inna Stryukova returns to the speaker’s platform for the Lunch Buffet at 11:30 this morning (8/2) to give A Ukrainian’s Perspective of the USA. A linguist by training, Professor Stryukova is no stranger to either AHSGR or GRHS, having spoken before both organizations several times. Inna has traveled widely in the former Soviet Union, the countries of Western Europe, Canada, and many states in the USA. It’s a pleasure for members of our societies to renew friendships and welcome Inna to our 2008 convention. Her home is in Nikolaev, Ukraine, and she is well suited to deliver this incisive look at the United States of America.

Dr. Tim Janzen of Happy Valley, Oregon, has been a busy man during the convention. His family has accompanied Janzen to the convention, and he’s already presented two workshops on Mennonite genealogy and genetic genealogy; he partners with Debbie Bieck at 8:30 this morning to present the (KET) Kherson Taurien and Ekaterinoslav Region workshop. But he also plans to spend lots of time near his hallway display board dealing with genetic genealogy, specifically to collect DNA samples as part of a project sponsored by the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundations. It’s the only lab that offers DNA testing for free. Curious? Stop by and visit with Dr. Tim Janzen at his display near the Lobby end of Heritage Hall.

For a variety of photographs from the 2008 International Convention of Germans from Russia, take a look at our Casper Memories gallery. Today is the Final Edition of the printed Casper Morgen Zeitung. Expect a few more posts to the web version. We intend to keep the blogsite up indefinitely; however, there will be no new postings except to correct any errors. Thanks. -- Larry Miller, Editor.

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