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A homecoming for US tourists discovering Luxembourg
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A homecoming for US tourists discovering Luxembourg

2 min. 02.10.2012 From our online archive
Founded in 2004, the Luxembourg American Cultural Society (LACS) aims to bridge the Atlantic and bring the émigré Luxembourg community closer to their roots in the Grand Duchy, with an 11-day visit to the country an ideal opportunity for many to reconnect with their history.

(CS) Founded in 2004, the Luxembourg American Cultural Society (LACS) aims to bridge the Atlantic and bring the émigré Luxembourg community closer to their roots in the Grand Duchy, with an 11-day visit to the country an ideal opportunity for many to reconnect with their history.

But the trip, which sees visitors travel from the capital around the country, including stops in Belval, Luxembourg's north or along the Moselle, is not just a trip down memory lane.

“A lot of Americans think Europe is all old-fashioned. They're very nostalgic about it and get really wrapped up in the sentimental past,” said LACS Executive Director Kevin Wester on his most recent trip to Luxembourg. “We want to introduce people to what Luxembourg is like today.”

Still, history and heritage play a big role during the trip and every year visitors from the US try to re-trace their ancestors' steps; not an easy task considering that the bulk of the tens of thousands of immigrants from Luxembourg to the US left for the Mid-West during the 19th Century.

There's something within us that makes us want to know where we came from”

“We hit the jackpot this year. Basically everyone made a family connection. We had a day off and the Luxembourgers picked up our group members and showed them their old towns. Some even had family parties with 20 or 30 people trying to figure out the genealogy. That was a real highlight,” Wester said.

With the largest Luxembourg community based in Wisconsin, the LACS, which is also based in the state, still holds a list of around 200 living Luxembourgish speakers, with the language surviving in rural areas.

Around 150 people have contacted the Cultural Centre about the options of retrieving Luxembourg nationality in the meantime, showing just how connected many still are to the country of origin of their grand parents or even great grand parents and beyond.

“I think it's the whole melting pot thing,” said Wester. “All these groups came together very quickly, but they wanted to hang on to their heritage. There's something within us that makes us want to know where we came from.”

Promoting Luxembourg in the US

The link between Luxembourg and the US goes both ways though, and many Luxembourgers join the Cultural Society, too. “Just like we fall in love with Luxembourg they are crazy about the States,” said Wester.

The enthusiasm for the society and its cultural centre in Wisconsin even spread to the Grand Ducal family and the country's top politicians, with Grand Duke Henri at the opening of the centre in 2009 and Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker visiting Wisconsin earlier this year.

In return, the centre is an asset for Luxembourg abroad, promoting tourism to the Grand Duchy, helping forge business ties and running cultural events, working closely with Luxembourg's consulates and embassies in the US

“We have other groups visiting our centre, from the Dutch, Polish or Belgian Cultural Societies. They can't even get an honorary consul to return a phone call. We're very grateful about the support and the relationship, and we know it's special.”

For more information about the Luxembourg American Cultural Society, its activities and how to join visit luxamculturalsociety.org