Scaling Down

On Monday the 7th we left Munich by train and headed towards a small town just north of the city. Hopping from train to train, we eventually arrived in Eichstatt, Germany, a picturesque German town of just about 12,000 people. While I loved the stories and the people we met throughout Munich and Berlin, having grown up in a town of 8,000 people, I felt a little out of place in the big cities. But, as our train passed through the hilly Bavarian landscape toward Eichstatt, I began to experience a familiar sense of home.

After a steep walk to our hotel on the hill, I settled into my room. I could feel something different about this town as we walked around that first night, with a light dusting of snow falling down. Our contact showed us around town, all the while waving, hugging, and greeting random people in shops and on the street that he knew – a familiar feeling for me. After a week and a half of noise, crowds of people, and starless skies of the big cities, it was a relief for me to finally be in a familiar place.

We started filming the next day, and have since met with many different people each with their own perspectives on immigration, home, and identity. Some were refugees, some politicians, and others worked for NGO’s. With each of our interviews, we try to stick to these themes of home and identity, but hearing these stories in small-town Eichstatt rather than the big-city of Berlin added a layer immediacy for me. What if refugees came to my home town seeking asylum? How would they be greeted? What if my small town was home to a prison filled with refugees awaiting deportation? It’s hard for me to find optimistic answers to these questions. But if there is any hope I have for making this documentary, it is that it will bring humanity into a conversation that is often devoid of humanity, however nuanced it is.

Michael Klonowski ‘21, Videographer