Life before and after 1989: Voices from the Center Website

Janeil Engelstad, Fulbright Fellow to the Slovak Republic (2006-2007) has created a website called "Voices From the Center: Central Europeans reflect on life before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall Project Narrative" which can be found at: http://www.voicesfromthecenter.net

The project's description is as follows:
Throughout history there have been moments when people pause to reflect upon their identities as a group and as individuals. In examining the past, they consider the present, and articulate their concerns and hopes for the future.

For the nations of Central Europe such a moment is at hand with the twentieth anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall in Novemeber 2009.

Through "Voices From the Center," people’s reflections about life during and after communism will be documented in a web-based project that also includes lectures and exhibitions throughout Central Europe and the United States.

The project stems from a series of conversations that took place with people, over the past two years, in Poland, Slovak Republic, Hungary and the Czech Republic about their lives before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Many of the participants, who ranged in age from 45 – 85, felt that despite the historical attention paid to life during communism, the profundity of their experiences were being lost to history.

Concurrent with these interviews there were conversations with young adults, who had been children when the wall came down, about their views of life in the post-communist era. Many young people simply relegated communism to the history books, while others saw parallels between their own lives and those of the older generations.

People from both groups talked about what freedom meant to them and had the opportunity to express their dreams, fears and hopes for themselves, their country and the world. Together these conversations begin to create a portrait of a people emerging from one political and cultural era into another.

The project to includes conversations with prominent writers, artists and politicians as well as people from rural and outlying geographic regions. College students and young artists, from Slovakia, Hungary and Poland have contributed their talents to the project, including participating in many of the interviews, thus initiating a dialogue between the younger and older generations.

The participants will come from all walks of life and socio-economic conditions. Interviews with artists and other creative people include conversations where they reflected about how and if their creative process has changed and how their work has been influenced by the different systems. Many artists also contributed work to the project.

I am pleased to announce that Voices From the Center web site is live:
www.voicesfromthecenter.net