Message to Alumni and Friends of the School in Germany

Dear Alumni and Friends of the School in Germany,

First and most important, I hope you and your families are well and continue to be well!

I’m reaching out to you today because, while we’re all insulated and unsure about what our futures in the face of the corona crisis might look like, I thought we could use this moment to bridge the distance and support each other. This is a difficult time, and it can be comforting simply to make each other aware that while we might feel alone, we’re all in this together.

Our alternative program for spring 2020 is built on the idea that while we might not be in the same country, city, or room, we can still find ways to get together. Although we had to close the sites, we certainly didn’t close the program!

I have found professors to work with our students across the distance within their academic fields of interest—professors who enthusiastically embrace the challenge of this new form of teaching, coaching, and of forming a community of students and teachers who won’t be able to have a single real Kaffeestündchen together—at least for the time being.

In addition to valid academic coursework in linguistics, literature, math, history, political science, art history, music history, and computer science, we’re offering our students activities that will make it easier for them to “stay in language,” even though they cannot be here:

There will be a Zoom juggling course in German, Vorlesestündchen, and social get-togethers on Zoom or in our virtual Kaffeestübchen. We’ll offer “Sprech”-Stunden so that students can speak German with us, or with other speakers of German who would like to have this opportunity to escape their corona islands and engage with each other that way. There’ll be a cooking contest. We will prepare favorite German dishes, take pictures, enjoy eating them with our families, and the person whose Deutscher Käsekuchen looks the best will win a prize. We’ll listen to German music, podcasts, and audiobooks. We’ll be writing a German story together. There will be a “five-hours-in-language-a-day contest” challenging students to go beyond their coursework and engage with the numerous materials we provide via our webspace and track their progress. These are just a few of our ideas for virtual immersion this semester.

Needless to say, if you wish to join us, you are more than welcome to do so. And if you have suggestions or want to offer your own German hour, let me know!

As you can see, this message has a double purpose: I wanted you to know that we’re still here and that we’d be happy if you wanted to join our community of German speakers—a community that will make dealing with everything that has happened and everything that might still be ahead just a little bit easier. As I told my students yesterday: you’re not here with us, but we’re still there for you.

Best wishes from the bottom of my heart—Bleibt / Bleiben Sie gesund!

Alles, alles Gute –

Ihre / Eure Heike

Heike Fahrenberg

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