The Transatlantic Friendship is a Success

Johannes Ebert © Loredana LaRocca

The “Wunderbar Together” initiative seeks to deepen existing partnerships and to give new impetus to the German-American friendship, according to Johannes Ebert, Secretary General of the Goethe-Institut. Above all, Johannes Ebert wants to assure that the initiative reaches young people, and people outside of west and east coast urban centers.

Which groups should be targeted by Deutschlandjahr in the USA, with the slogan “Wunderbar together“, and what is the overarching communicative goal?

The German-American relationship is currently undergoing a phase of reorientation. Therefore, we would like to emphasize the commonalities between us and make clear that the transatlantic friendship is a success! We plan to deepen existing partnerships. However, “Wunderbar together” should additionally address and appeal to people who, up to now, know little about Germany. This includes many young people as well as Americans who live away from coastal metropolitan areas. “Wunderbar together” should make it clear that Germany and the USA are strong partners, who can together overcome challenges and seek collaborative solutions.

What are common themes for Germany and the USA, which are both key for transatlantic relations and that “Wunderbar together” will promote?

Freedom is the unifying theme of transatlantic relations. In our program, in collaboration with German and American partners, we wish to demonstrate the importance of a free and open society. In times of political unrest, this is of particular importance. Our aim is to convey a picture of Germany, which speaks to both the mind and the heart, and in which the German culture and lifestyle comes alive emotionally. Using artistic methods, we want to invite participation and to radiate into the public sphere. It is crucial that our project is seen as a chance to collaborate. We have plenty of pressing challenges: social and economic inequality, influxes of refugees, resource scarcity, and climate change require collaborative answers. This is why we need to facilitate.

How exactly will “Wunderbar together” USA be implemented?

The Goethe-Institut will play a double role in the initiative: as the role of project manager, we will coordinate the overall project appearance in collaboration with the Foreign Office. As the role of the participant our six Goethe-Instituts in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington will collaborate with us, but also work to design and organize their own projects involving culture, the German language, and German society. The program will be developed in cooperation with our American partners in each of these cities. In particular, digital elements will play a special role, and we place equal worth on our planned Video-on-Demand Festival or social media activities as other programs, which will be implemented locally. We are additionally planning mobile elements, such as buses, which will drive through the “heartland” of the United States and invite young people, through school competitions or concerts, to get to know the German culture and language.