Lange Tafel is an oral history program and open-air event that occurs in three stages (or “Acts”) designed to inspire dialogue between cultures and generations.
In Act 1, school children interview family members and other community members about their experiences with immigration, record their stories and develop their own perspective on the topic. In 12 guided workshops, school children work in small teams, create timelines about the history of migration in their community, learn interview methods and communication skills, and write about what they learned in their interviews.
In Act 2, youth collaborate with their interviewees to stage a meal at a very long table on a major street or city plaza. Here they share the results of the oral history process. The youth are the hosts and moderators of an inter-generational dialogue and display their oral histories. At this event, the school children also present their oral histories to local community leaders. Artists (musicians, dancers) perform with pieces related to the theme of migration.
In Act 3, school children receive a certificate that recognizes the transcultural knowledge and social skills they have developed through their participation with the project. This entire process is documented on film so that the installation can be evaluated afterward.
The theater actress and director Isabella Mamatis (Greek-German background), founded Lange Tafel in 2006 in her Berlin neighborhood of Kreuzberg (Bergmannstraße), a diverse working-class neighborhood with a large Turkish immigrant population. Now ten years old, Lange Tafel has become a well-established Berlin tradition that has been held all over the city in a wide range of neighborhoods, as well as other major cities like Hamburg and Düsseldorf. Her vision is to build the Lange Tafel around the globe to bring people worldwide together across ethnicities, social backgrounds, and generations. During a research visit to Berlin in summer 2014, Professor Cora Granata from California State University, Fullerton and its Center for Oral and Public History, discovered the Lange Tafel project in Kreuzberg and was impressed by the way it brought a community together and fostered civic engagement through collective storytelling.
“How can we bring this wonderful project to LA?”
Since then, Cora Granata and Isabella Mamatis have been working together to do just that, and their dream became a reality on March 12, 2016. Prof. Granata put together a team of her university students who helped implement it in LA. We worked together with teacher Sonja Mihailovic and the fourth graders from LA’s Goethe International Charter School (GICS), a school with a student body of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds and with experience with German-American partnerships.
To learn more about Lange Tafel in Berlin, please visit their website at www.lange-tafel.com.