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February, 2005 - Nr. 2


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2nd WCGS Lecture presented
to the K-W Community

by Herwig Wandschneider

Herwig Wandschneider"The Waterloo Centre for German Studies" (WCGS) invited Professor Dr. Christiane Harzig, currently Visiting Professor at the University of Winnipeg, to present the second lecture of interest to the academic and German K-W community at large. The first lecture, "Was ist Deutsch" was presented in November last year by Professor Karl-Heinz Bausch of the Mannheim Institut für Deutsche Sprache.

Dr. David John and Dr. Christiane Harzig  [photo: Herwig Wandschneider]With his usual flair and eloquence, Dr. David John, Acting Director of the WCGS, introduced Prof. Dr. Harzig and her lecture topic "When You Are a New Immigrant You Are Just Half And Half", a fascinating topic that attracted nearly 50 people from the K-W academic and German community.

Many of those in the audience could well have been part of those Germans, who immigrated to Canada in the 50’s and 60’s, were interviewed as part of a study on immigrants near the end of the 1970’s, and formed the basis of the research presented by Dr. Harzig. The "half and half" emotional connection of the German Immigrants referred to the one foot that was entrenched in heritage, traditions and maintenance of German life in the home, while the other is readily integrated into Canadian Society, most frequently without the need for becoming a Canadian citizen.

Dr. Harzig’s presentation was well received, and was followed by a lively, sometimes hilarious, question period. It was easy to identify with the research results as evidenced by the extensive comments and questions. Specific issues were raised that did not appear to have emerged from the research such as the degree of discrimination experienced, if any, by immigrants of that era. Interesting was that the reasons given for immigrating was often described in terms of "Greater Freedom", but the meaning of this statement was not well defined and appeared rather foggy. Thus many immigrants did not feel the need to become Citizens, unless a specific event either demanded it or made life somewhat easier. The privilege or right to vote as citizens was not an issue for German Immigrants of that time, as they preferred not to get involved in politics.

The research supported what is known intuitively, namely that new German Immigrants in Canada have the lowest degree of ethnic retention, integrate easily and rapidly, yet also maintain that other half at home.

The WCGS was officially brought to life less than a year ago with the mandate to conduct research, teaching and programming with three points of emphasis: German heritage, community and youth. The Centre has managed to raise start-up funds, through donations by such philanthropists as Kitchener’s Paul Tuerr, to begin the Centre’s active operation. Several departments of the University of Waterloo supported this lecture with additionally needed funds.

Fundraising continues to bring the total closer to the target of $3 million needed to sustain continued operations. Nearly half of that total has been raised.

The Centre will put on events of this nature from time to time and will advise interested parties of such events by either e-mail, fax or phone. Anyone interested in receiving Newsletters and/or information on upcoming WCGS events should contact Dr. David John at the University of Waterloo Tel: 519-888-4567 or e-mail: djohn@uwaterloo.ca.


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