Director of TRACES and Spuren e.V. (Germany)

For the Spuren e.V. website, please click on the red link above, as it contains information about our German counterpart (i.e. its associates, volunteers, Board of Director members)

Michael Luick-Thrams
A child of the wide, open prairies, I grew up on a farm in MichaelLuickThramsIowa where the Thramses, then the Luicks lived and worked for 105 years. My family has been in North America since 1630. We came from the British Isles, the Netherlands, several Germanic regions and Denmark. Over those 400 years, we’ve been part of the classic American experience—the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the Californian Gold Rush and Westward Migration. We participated in both World Wars, the Civil Rights “movement” before it was one, and the cultural revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. We also, however, were touched by national tragedies such as the Ku Klux Klan revival of the 1920s, the head-in-the-sand McCarthy era of the 1950s and the U.S.’s criminal war in Iraq. (Ironically, it was my country’s constant readiness to wage war—specifically, Jimmy Carter’s reinstating draft registration in 1980—that led me to become first a pacifist, then, at age 17, a Quaker.) Such a colorful heritage, however, not only enriches a family, but calls it to bear responsibility to build a better future. This rare legacy, in part, motivates my working as well as private life—every day, day after day.


Demetre Chinchaladze
A native of the Republic of Georgia (not the PeachtreeDemetre on bike State), I became involved with Spuren through meeting Michael, who encouraged me to get involved with what he promised to be an exciting non-profit educational project. While my tasks here mainly have been along the lines of website and flyer/PowerPoint presentation design, I’ve become increasingly confident in the overall project’s use of history as a way to facilitate encounters between groups of people: different ethnicities, nationalities, religions, ages, generations, etc. I love our work together and am proud that thousands of people will gain greater awareness of history and their place in it through my designs. Isn’t that a great thing?

Anna Overla
I was born in Kansas, on May 19th 1998, but IMG-20180529-WA0000 moved to the old family farm in Dallas Center, Iowa, where I’ve lived ever since. I grew up in the Midwest countryside, watching our cornfields grow—and going to school in town. My parents both have a deep appreciation for history, art and culture, which they wanted to pass on to me. Because it’s difficult to get those things in the middle of a cornfield, we went on trips to various museums, national parks and cultural centers throughout my childhood.

Currently, I am a student at Central College in Pella, Iowa, working towards a double major in Political Science and French. I found out about TRACES andmore ...

“Spuren e.V.” when Michael presented at the college in spring 2018; as I started learning more about the organization and what goes into making the different programs, I found that the subject matters and underlying messages aligned with my passions and beliefs. So, when Michael offered an internship over the summer, I was ready to work for such a unique project.


Marianna Nicholas
I was born and raised in a long-establishedMarianna Nicholas German community in rural Transylvania.  Ethnic Germans in the so-called “Siebenburgen” region lived and worked alongside Romanians, Hungarians and Roma.  It was my first experience of a multi-cultural society—even if I did not know it at the time.  As a child I used to love to hear my father and grandfather speak Hungarian with their friends.  I also loved to sit in my mother’s office at the town hall, where she was in charge of road building and maintenance, and listen to her speaking and joking with her Romanian colleagues.more ...

As a young adult I went on to study German and English, then migrated to the UK, where I worked for 25 years in the British Civil Service. Getting a job in the UK was a lesson in integration. My colleagues provided detailed and comprehensive induction programmes, for example, spending time showing newcomers the ropes, including where the kettle was and even how to take turns making tea for each other; they invited everyone to lunch, cinema and the theatre.  People from all over the world worked cheek by jowl together, so friendships and long-term relationships between different ethnic groups were the order of the day.  I met my Indian partner of 25 years at work.  I soon worked and managed projects that involved cross-country cooperation i.e. working with colleagues from Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the education systems were markedly different.  Differences had to be discussed, compromises reached and solutions acceptable to all found.  In my spare time, I did an MA in French and spent a lot of time in France studying French film. I became particularly interested in the plight of Muslim immigrants in France compared to their counterparts in the UK, which led me to write papers about and lecture on integration issues.  I also became involved in local community projects run by the Church of England.  All of these projects were aimed at bringing local communities together.

Jeremy Bird
I was born and raised in Southwesternjeremy bird Ontario, Canada.My maternal grandparents were part of a German community in what is now Hungary.  Just after the Second World War, they were relocated to Germany; then emigrated to Canada: I, therefore, have German and English roots. During and just after university, I worked for several years with young people in residential settings.  I helped them to develop social skills and essential life skills, such as time and money management, hygiene, self-care, nutrition, etc.
I have a long history of volunteering: I was the music director for the university radio station more ...

and took part in various environmental initiatives aimed at environmental protection, reforestation programme.  I was a founder member of a cycling advocacy group, which promoted safe cycling infrastructure projects and developed safe cycling routes throughout the city.  My whole life I worked and studied with people from every continent.  We celebrated each other’s festivals, ate each other’s food and enjoyed each other’s cultures. In 2006-7, I spent a year in Germany as an exchange student to get know my German heritage.   As I endeavoured to improve my German language skills after I returned to Canada, I met a woman who’s now my wife: We decided to move to Germany together.  I am working intensively to fully integrate in Germany, so I look forward to passing on some of my experience of doing so to other newcomers to this society—and I feel confident that I’m in a good position to do so.  I am also able to use my experience of Canadian integration models in this context.

Carolin Kirchner
I was born in Erfurt in the last days of the carolinGDR dictatorship, where I spent the first 18 years of my life. After I completed my M.A. in film studies, history, and comparative literature at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz I moved to San Francisco. Due to a Fulbright fellowship I was able to complete a second master’s degree in cinema studies at San Francisco State University. For the last five years I have lived and studied in Los Angeles. In June 2018 I will finish my PhD degree in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). A dissertation stipend of UCLA allowed me to return to Germany and I am currently living in Erfurt with my American husband A.J. more ...

My parents, grandparents, and my brother were all born and have lived in Erfurt their whole lives. My great-grandparents were Erfurters as well –if I had researched my family tree I would be able to pinpoint how many of my ancestors have resided in Thuringia. Thusly, I am the only member of my family so far that has left Erfurt—even though I cannot determine if I will not be back for good this time.

Umit Kuzhan
I was born to Turkish immigrants who moved to the DSC02895 1 United States to build a better life.  This led me to be heavily involved with the Turkish community in Levittown, Pennsylvania. My hometown was very diverse, which led me to meet people from many different cultures and religions.  This upbringing opened my eyes to the rest of the world and to international issues.  I attended Temple University and graduated in 2017, with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. During my time at Temple, I worked with refugees from many different countries, and the experience made me passionate to help those in need around the world.  I moved to Erfurt, Germany, in June of 2017 to get my Masters in International Social Work, in order to give me the resources and expertise needed to work with disadvantaged populations around the world.  I am currently interning at TRACESpuren to gain knowledge and experience pursuant to my own goal of starting a non-profit organization that will help serve disadvantaged populations around the globe.


Greg Mock
bio pictureI was born and raised in the Philadelphia area in the American Northeast. Being involved in many church organizations and sports helped me to stay out of trouble and to be focused. My athletic skills earned me a track and field scholarship at Lock Haven University, where I later received my bachelor degree in International Studies. During my college career, I got in contact with many foreign exchange students from around the globe and from that moment on, my world view expanded. Becoming friends with the international students offered me connections to travel and I was able to work in Germany and in France, where I met my German wife, Johanna. Working for a Christian youth-and-family-services organization in Dresden was a big challenge. I came there not knowing the language; I was of another skin color and from another culture. I had many good but also traumatic experiences in Dresden, and in the hard times I had to put my faith in Christ. In my free time, I like to read my bible, learn other languages, dance, work out, and offer help to those in need. I look forward to working with Spuren e.V. because the members try to bring people together and attempt to establish peace through learning about one another.

Irving Kellman
I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 20 December Irving_Kellman1946 at St. Mary’s Hospital, the only hospital in the city that would allow Jewish doctors to do the work they had trained for. My parents were both born in Russia at the turn of the century and came to the United States as young children—my mother to Chicago, my father to Minneapolis, where they met in 1937 and married in 1938.
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I graduated from high school in 1964 and began traveling the country soon after—New York City in fall 1964, and Washington DC in spring 1965 for the first anti-Viet Nam War rally held in the nation’s capital. In the summer of 1965 I braved my way to Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama to do civil rights work, and then to New York, DC, Chicago and San Francisco in late ‘65 and early ’66, doing anti-war organizing and protests. I stayed in San Francisco for the hippie era and “Summer of Love” in ‘66-‘67. In 1968 I moved to Los Angeles and got a job managing the Cinemateque 16 in Hollywood, the foremost “underground film” theater in the country, showing avant-garde and experimental films by Robert Downey Sr., Stan Brachage, and the early works of Andy Warhol, among others.
I returned to Minnesota in 1970 and attended the U of M for two years, studying humanities and philosophy. I left for Canada and the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of British Columbia in ’73, came back in ’74 and got a job as a deckhand and first mate on tow boats, pushing barges on the inland rivers of the mid-continent. For the next eight years I lived nowhere and everywhere, working and living on the tow boats eight months of the year, traveling all over the rest of the U.S. the other four.
In 1982 I married an artist who painted in the sumi-e style of Japan, and opened an art and handmade crafts gallery in Wayzata, Minnesota. The marriage and the gallery both went belly up in 1991, and I again began drifting around the U.S., visiting old friends, making new ones, and working a myriad of odd jobs. In 1995 I began delivering pizzas for a pizzeria in an upscale suburb of Minneapolis and enjoyed life for 11 years before growing bored—when I once again began a quest for something new and different to do with my life. Along came Michael Luick-Thrams, a TRACES ad for a “BUS driver” on Craigs List, and a new adventure in traveling the backroads of the American Heartland.
Driving the BUS was one of the most challenging and gratifying jobs I have ever had. I drove the two BUS-eums for several years, across 25 U.S. states, to hundreds of showings for tens of thousands of people. I found it challenging, keeping a 40-foot-long bus going straight and being on time while navigating the winding and narrow paths of the back roads that comprise the heart of Mid-America; gratifying in meeting the wonderful and colorful people who populate those back roads. After half a decade’s respite, I look forward to again accompanying the BUS-eum around the American Heartland.

Former Interns

Suhaib Khalaf
10494611_10203380227376921_8270505131368094187_nI was born on 25 March 1994 in Amman, the capital of Jordan. I started the elementary school in Jordan, but I finished high school in Saudi Arabia. In 2012, I started my bachelor degree in International Accounting at German Jordanian University. As a part of my studying program, I have to spend one year in Germany to study and to undergo an internship. After finishing the first semester at Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts (FH Dortmund) in the west of Germany, I started searching for an internship. Upon the recommendations of friends, I found TRACESpuren as a good choice for me. Here, I can gain experience not only in accounting but also in management and in participating with other people in another activities. In addition to getting the chance to see  another part of Germany (the east of Germany). I’m pretty sure that after finishing my internship at TRACESpuren I can go back to Jordan with new ideas and excellent experience in my major and another important thing how to deal with new cultures.

Hussam Khoury
I was born on 15 March 1993 to a Christian-Arab family in huss 22Amman, the capital of Jordan. I studied accounting at the German Jordanian University, and went abroad for a year in Dresden, where I studied international business in the HTW (Hochschule fuer Technik für Wirtschaft) Dresden and did my internship with TRACESpuren, where I met people from different cultures who are volunteers for the greater cause, and their goal is to stop racism and xenophobia. I learned a lot from their enthusiasm to deliver to thousands of others the message of this two-country, non-profit educational organization.more ...

I also took part in the international conference for Economics, Business and Financial Challenges in MENA & GCC Countries*. Moreover, I got certificates in the “Financial Statements and Balance Sheet Components” as well as in “Forecasting & Budgeting”. I will not stop there: I’m planning to earn more certificates in the field of accounting in order to get a master’s degree.
Other than my studies, I am a big fan of sports. I used to play soccer, basketball, field athletics and ended with boxing, which I dedicated part of my life to practice.
I look forward to the day when racism will end and peace will come to the world, where I will try my best to help in any way that I’m capable of, to erase racist ideas from the people who are around me.

*(Note: refers to the MENA – Middle East & North Africa countries; “GCC” refers to the Gulf Cooperation Council, to which belong Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Katar, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates [UAE])

Seyedmahmoud Monemian
I was born on the 7th of February 1984 in Tehran, Iran.I 15398937_10207211830564606_957961417_odid my pre- university studies in Tehran and startedmy Bachelor studies at the Faculty of Forestry and Forest Economics at the University of Tehran, Iran.In 2012, I was adnitted to theGeorg- August UniversitätGöttingen to pursue my graduate studies in Tropical and International Forestry.At the moment, I am working with Spuren to get to know the people and a variety of cultures, customs and ideas from all icer the world as well as introducing my culture and country to the people with the aim of integration .

Belinda Sidabutar
Born to an Indonesian diplomatic family offered me a rich 10982870_10205728083618167_8411528338623582352_o (2)experience with people and cultures, seeing that life is pretty much the same everywhere on Earth, with differences on how humans live their lives, in accordance to the environment and tradition passed on to them. Having been born in Berlin, Germany and grown up in Indonesia, North Korea, the Philippines, Greece, Vietnam and Canada helped me see that despite the geographical boundaries and what is seen as cultural differences, it boils down to one reality: We are all humans, who need to be treated, understood and valued as humans. As a Christian I want to honor God with my background. TRACES is the perfect place to do that.more ...

Having pursued music, teaching and linguistics as well as architecture out of interest for each respective field, as well as being given wide opportunities, I am currently continuing my master’s degree in architecture at the Technische Universität Dresden, with an eye on carrying out projects between Indonesia and Germany in the future. I am taught to live up to my name which stands for Berlin and Indonesia, giving me a great desire to bring both countries closer together in the future.

Board of Directors

Current Members

Lynne Carey
The Director of the Ames Public Library (APL), I began 408008_web_11-28-Government-Page-Lynne-Carey-mugmy tenure at APL as a temporary hourly worker while attending ISU, fell in love with its mission and never left. In previous years, I also was heavily involved in politics, serving as campaign manager for several candidates and working as an administrative assistant in the Iowa Legislature. I received a BS from ISU in psychology and women’s studies. I’m also one of the rare Story County natives who stayed put. My Iranian-born spouse, Navid Emami, and I love traveling, but appreciate the small town living that Iowa offers. I possess extensive experience with program planning for all ages at APL, and am a successful grant writer and fundraiser, currently working with the Ames Public Library Foundation.

Sandy Harmel
A devoted grandmother, friend of felines IMG_8561everywhere and a staunch fan of history, I’ve worked with Michael Luick-Thrams and TRACES since 2008. As director of Cedar County Historical Society in Tipton, Iowa, I oversee the stewardship of the world’s only permanent exhibit about the Scattergood Hostel for European refugees, which existed in the far southwest corner of Tipton County. For more information about its mission and work, visit the CCHS’s website.

Paul Juhl
After graduating high school in Webster PaulJuhlCity, Iowa, I attended the University of Iowa, Iowa City, for an undergraduate degree in history and education.  A few years later, I attended the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, for a Master’s Degree in College Student Personnel Work.  I also have additional graduate work at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
 My career choice was being an educator in secondary education and I worked at various schools, both public and private.  Most of these years I served as a high school guidance counselor.  The most unique experience was, perhaps, the years spent working at Institut Montana, a private boarding school in Zugerberg, Switzerland.  This is the same school attended by John Kerry, our present Secretary of State, when he was an adolescent.
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 Always maintaining an interest in Iowa history, for the past thirty years I have been an active collector of early Iowa photography.  This has centered on carte de visites, cabinet cards, and stereographs created in the 1870s and 1880s.  The collection numbers well over 3,000 images.  These are all shared with the State Historical Society of Iowa for the use of researchers.
I have also written for a number of historical magazines and have published ten spiral bound books that deal with some portion of Iowa’s fascinating history.  Some of these topics have included the Abraham Lincoln grandchildren, the Pulitzer Prize novelist MacKinlay Kantor, the artist Grant Wood, and the legend of the early years of the actress, Sarah Bernhardt.
My home since 1985 has been in Iowa City, a place where there are several libraries that specialize in Iowa history topics.  In retirement, I have also enjoyed being a frequent speaker on a variety of topics of a historical nature. 

John Schmacker
A Des Moines native and contemporary of Bill JohnBryson, I’m now a retired accountant and restaurateur who’s still active in Democratic Party and other progressive politics. I enjoy collecting art (especially paintings), throwing parties and scouring the newspaper every morning.

Thomas Weber
I discovered my calling as a volunteer when 70 SAMSUNGchildren of Southeast Asian and Ethiopian refugees showed up one evening for open gym in Seattle. As the son of newly arrived immigrants as well, I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated with a degree in History from Reed College in Portland. I lived in New Mexico for fifteen years, teaching history, geography and civics to grades 6-12, as well as coaching basketball and Model United Nations. During that time, I earned a second Bachelor’s in Education and an MBA at the University of New Mexico. I served as a middle school director and as head of school for two different schools from 2001 to 2012 before joining Scattergood as its Assistant Head of School in 2013.
I have presented at a number of regional and national conferences about curriculum design and have collaborated actively with other schools on initiatives designed to deepen understanding of students and educators about diversity issues.
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I’m married to textile artist Amy King Weber, who, along with her own work, has been active in building arts organizations in three different communities. Cooking, music, and hiking top the list of my’ many interests, and there’s always time for good conversation, staying in touch with our two grown daughters, and playing or watching a game of basketball.
For a glimpse at what I’m thinking and reading about education, take a look at my Twitter feed.

“Out beyond all notions of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. “~ Rumi (1207 – 1273), 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic
 “What I’ve come to learn is that the world is never saved in grand messianic gestures, but in the simple accumulation of gentle, soft, almost invisible acts of compassion, everyday acts of compassion. In South Africa they have a phrase called ubuntu. Ubuntu comes out of a philosophy that says, the only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back at me. ” ~Chris Abani (1966), Nigerian author
Former Members

Sally Campbell
I’m a Quaker singer-songwriter, a personal organizer Sally_Campbell(a “Friendly de-cluttering consultant”) and an activist for peace, nuclear disarmament, disability rights and the environment. I live on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with my husband, Chuck, who works at the Drama Bookshop on Times Square in Midtown, and our fat and lazy tiger cat, Duncan.
In 1996 I retired from the New York Public Library after 35 years as a children’s librarian at the Library for the Blind and for two years as president of the New York Public Library union.
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After retiring, I spent the last years of my mother’s life with her in my hometown of Guilford, Connecticut, a bittersweet time I would not have missed for the world.
Currently, as well as doing my de-cluttering work, I am an active member of the Morningside Quaker Meeting, which meets Sundays in the Neo-Gothic tower of Riverside Church, and I am on the steering committees of the Peoples Voice Cafe and the Peoples Music Network.  In 2013, at my 70th birthday party/concert I recorded a CD called Giftsongs and Blessings which is available for free by writing me at
I’ve come to believe that we each will be given whatever help we need from the Friendly Spirit if we will just slow down and listen. It is surprising what one may hear—such as the songs I have been given.

Ceceile Hartleib
I am a professional artist living and working in St. Ceile-HartleibPaul, Minnesota. I studied art at Atelier LeSueur, which was located in the posh, lakeside suburb of Excelsior. My paintings include portraits, landscapes and still-lifes in oil and watercolor. Garrison Keillor owns my landscape, Cathedral of St. Paul, and my portrait of Nikita Khrushchev hangs in Moscow, Russia, in the collection of Nikita’s son, Sergei Khrushchev. I teach painting in my studio in a converted, studio-filled warehouse in St. Paul, and at a local atelier.
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I’m married to Quaker Terrence Kayser, a former TRACES board member, videographer and community volunteer. I’m active in Groveland Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, having served two years as president, as well as in several arts organizations, including those involved with St. Paul’s frequent “Art Crawls”. My volunteering with TRACES has included working in the museum, which was located in St. Paul’s Landmark Center for several years. I sold tickets, gave tours and wrote book synopses—even cleaned out the BUS-eum on occasion. I am now serving as chair of TRACES’ board of directors.
A mother of two, with three granddaughters living in Los Angeles, I was born in Sandusky, Ohio, to German-American parents—my father having been born in Germany before immigrating to the Midwest as a young boy. In April 1912 his older siblings and parents literally heard screams from the sinking Titanic as the ship his family was aboard—the George Washington—was on the ocean a few hours east of the Titanic; the following day they passed the site of the sunken “unsinkable” steamship and saw debris from the disappeared ship, bobbing atop the waves.

Alex Nelson
I graduated from the University of Alex-in-RomeWisconsin-River Falls in spring 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in History and a minor in Anthropology. After spending three months on a study-abroad tour of Europe, I resolved to become an archeologist specializing in Classical-Mediterranean civilizations. I have continued my education and currently…