In 2011, Saloma Miller Furlong’s Why I Left the Amish: A Memoir appeared during the memoir boom that gave agency to invisible, marginalized, or misrepresented groups. Why I Left the Amish was one of the first memoirs written by a former Amish woman that provided unfettered perspectives on the Amish. While many Amish groups today lead a simple life much like many rural Americans in agricultural communities did in the 19th to early 20th centuries, Amish culture is anything but simple as Furlong’s newest memoir shows.
Last fall, I had the privilege of spending a semester abroad. What better place to go for a North American Studies Profile graduate than across the pond?
Even if said pond happens to be the Baltic Sea rather than the Atlantic Ocean, my journey did take me to the “North American University in the Heart of Europe”, i.e., the Republic of Lithuania. And if you’re asking yourself: “What is it doing there?” or perhaps even: “What were you doing there?” let me introduce you to this one-of-a-kind place called LCC International University.
Ready to dive into unchartered waters? Then read Lena Hegemann’s graphic coming-of-age story, “Calm as the Ocean.” Her beautifully designed narrative takes us on a trip to New Zealand – on a trip that turns out to be one of self-discovery.
The Marshall Plan has become synonymous for massive help, for bringing about a herculaneum task and having a country rise again from the ashes. Originally designed to help Europe get back on track after the devastations of World War II, it has a much broader meaning today. In discussions about how to rebuild Ukraine at some point in the future, there’s again talk of the need for a Marshall Plan. However, it’s worthwhile to take a step back and look at what the original Marshall Plan was all about.
“It’s August 13, 1961 – the day East Berlin starts building the wall,” my grandma remembers.
“On Sunday night, August 13, Walter Ulbricht, East German head of state, issues an order to close the Berlin border. Police forces put up barbed wire fences. Within one day, West Berlin became an island in the sea of communism. Trains do not run anymore, and West and East Berliners stand shocked on opposite sides of the border.
I hear about it at Moabit hospital, where I just gave birth to my first child on August 9. I remember being afraid of a new war and feeling helpless in the hospital, alone with my child, barely 20 years old. Also, we’re separated from our family. My grandparents lived in the Russian sector after the war, just ten minutes from where we lived in the American sector. My husband had fled to West Berlin from Rostock in the East to marry me. His parents, grandparents, sister, and other relatives still live there. I feel so helpless and yearn for my family. The future seems so unsure.”
I’m named after my grandfathers: Johann and Juan. My name is Johanna. Throughout my life, I’ve met many Johannas. At my university alone, I know nearly a dozen. It’s led to funny and to confusing situations, but it’s always been something to connect over. On their own, my names are nothing to brag about: Johanna. Gabriela. Hernández. Schäfer. Johanna and Schäfer are common names in Germany, Gabriela and Hernández are typical Peruvian names. Only together are they special. Only together are they me. But – had I been born 50 minutes earlier, my name might have been Paula (find out why at the end of the poem).