Berlin's Migrant Past, Present, and Future is a project conceived from the desire to understand first-hand stories of migrants, locals, and refugees living in Berlin, Germany. During my study-abroad time in Berlin, I felt disconnected to the local community because I was studying in an American institution with Americans, running on an American university schedule. It wasn't until the semester ended that my frustrations peaked and I decided to stay in Berlin and explore the local cultures and communities. Granted I wasn't able to permeate as much as another local, but I did my best to get involved.
This project documents a variety of people Julie and I met, and our attempt to deconstruct the words migrant, refugee, expat, local. I believe Berlin has gone through many stages of reconstructing its identity and presents an interesting background for the current mass migration of refugees from the Middle East. During my stay in Berlin for three months in the summer, I managed to talk to a variety of people from born-and-raised Berliners, European migrants, to Syrian refugees. Many times the variety in their physical make up shocked me, and possibly played into my own biases of what the Berlin/German identity should look like, but it was an eye-opening experience to meet so many people and hear so many different stories.
This is an on-going project in conjunction with my friend Julie Jeon, as we attempt to partner our own experiences living away from home, being New Yorkers, and coming to terms with a city that reflects and distorts many similarities with New York. We hope to continue documenting and recording the mix of experiences from Berliners, migrants, and refugees as the world becomes a little bit scarier with the rise of right-wing conservatives both home in America and abroad.