Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Foot in Two Worlds

May 15, the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Redwood City, California Chapter, will meet.  The topic for discussion will be:  “A Foot in Two Worlds: A Russian-German Identity in the United States”.  The meeting will focus on three books:  The Horizontal World by Debra Marquart, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen, and my book A Stranger to Myself.  

I am pleased that I have been asked to talk about my own book.  The following questions will be discussed.  What does it mean to be a German-Russian today?  How does your heritage influence who you are?  How do your roots affect who you are today?  Can you go home?  What does it mean to go home?  Is home a place or a state of mind?  Can you forgive, come to peace with the past, and move forward?  Is it possible to discover who you really are? 
In my novel, I explore the subject of going home to heal.  My character finds peace with the past through forgiveness and she moves forward to discover “who” she really is.
Hopefully, these questions will engender a thoughtful discussion amongst members as they share their lives as German Russians. What cultural traits and traditions do they identity with as American German Russians?  I think the meeting will be an informative and rewarding experience for all.

I cannot physically “go home again” because my parents are gone and the house I grew up in is no longer there.  It was torn down and a new one built in its place.  But I “go home again” many times in my memory.  I remember many details about my German-Russian parents (my father was born in Omsk, Siberia, Russia) who raised me to appreciate and practice our traditions and to live by our cultural standards.  I still hear the words, “Do your work first and then you can play.”

I remember every detail of the house we lived in and the town and its inhabitants. My story takes place in 1957.  I was only 13 years old at that time, but the memories are etched deep in my soul.

After the meeting, I will post a summary.  In the meantime, think about these thought provoking questions.