► October 2017: The spectacular colors of the New England fall have a way of beckoning you out into nature. I had traveled from Boston, where I had been leading the Goethe-Institut for three years, into the Maine wilderness to enjoy the scenery. While I was out hiking, I received a phone call from Munich. They had selected me as the Project Director for the next Deutschlandjahr, a format that the German government uses to strengthen bilateral relations with important partners. Previous campaigns had taken place in China, India, Russia, Brazil, and Mexico, and now it was coming to the U.S. This would be the biggest campaign of its kind to date, and there wasn’t much time. So three days later, I found myself sitting in the German Embassy in Washington, meeting with the project committee, a group of representatives from the fields of diplomacy, culture, and business. In the coming weeks and months, a team would have to be recruited to get the major facets of the Year of Germany off the ground and, in addition, two large calls for proposals would have to be organized by which a total of six million euros would be awarded for further projects.
► October 2018: After twelve intense months, the Year of Germany begins punctually on the Day of German Unity, October 3. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas flew to Washington for the opening ceremony at the German Embassy. Opening festivals followed in Boston, Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles over the next few days. The opening festivities concluded with a spectacular balancing act: high above the iconic landscape of Monument Valley, the Munich-based athlete Niklas Winter crossing one-inch wide slack line between two hot-air balloons bearing the colors of the German and American flags-- This is just one of the thousands of projects that applied to be a part of the Year of Germany in the U.S. The balloons created the symbol for our year: the path between the two countries may have become narrower, but with a little bit of determination, it can still be crossed. The breathtaking pictures from Utah will accompany us as our "key visual" throughout the year.
► May 2019: It’s hard to believe, but we’re already at the half way point. Over 800 events in all 50 states are behind us. Great artists, small communities, explorations into the German roots of around 50 million Americans, conferences, exhibitions, meetings and encounters, contemporary dance and traditional customs, an apprenticeship initiative by German businesses, and a St. Martin’s Day parade in South Texas, to name a few. Thilo Kössler, foreign correspondent for Deutschlandfunk, asked me recently what ties it all together. Our motto, almost provocatively optimistic in these turbulent times, surely offers a common theme: "Wunderbar Together." All of our projects are examples of a thriving German-American friendship at a local level, conceived by local partners, and implemented together with them. Four digital channels (our website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) help to spread the stories of these projects throughout the country. So does our “WanderbUS,” a strikingly designed multimedia truck that’s traveling over 20,000 miles throughout the country and visiting schools in 48 U.S. states. And those who want something a little less educational (and are old enough) can enjoy a cool liter of Hofbräu and a fresh pretzel in our mobile Oktoberfest "Wiesn in a Box."
► October 2019 is already on the horizon: similar to the opening, we are preparing a round of spectacular events across the country. The 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall will of course play a special role, as one of the many examples of how history brought our two countries together. Without the U.S., German reunification would have been inconceivable - "wunderbar together" indeed. More at www.wunderbartogether.org
Christoph Muecher, Project Manager
... studied History, French, German and German as a foreign language in Bonn and Toulouse. At the end of his studies, the Iron Curtain opened up and with it an exciting career perspective. He has been traveling and working for the Goethe-Institut for over 25 years. After working in Tokyo, Munich and Wellington, he became press secretary and director of communications. Next he moved to the U.S. where he worked in Boston for three years and currently manages the "Deutschlandjahr“ in Washington (D.C.).