TOP & COVID-19: Update

COVID-19 © Goethe-Institut

PRESS RELEASE

April 24, 2020 – Washington, D.C. – We know that many educators are experiencing uncertainty with respect to school closures as well as immense pressure to reinvent their instruction online. Many educators will be unable to say goodbye to their seniors, nor witness them traverse the graduation stage to take that symbolic walk from childhood into adulthood.  In addition to these challenges, we know many are also working hard to support their own family. We know this because we have been in touch with many of you over the past few weeks. We at TOP remain constantly inspired by educators who are rising to these challenges as they are all-too-often called upon to do: as heroes and as first-responders in their own unique context.  We applaud and thank you for your efforts.

Since TOP was founded in 2002, over 1,700 educators from the United States and Canada have traveled to Germany on one of our study tours to bring new lessons back to their students, to make new friends, and to even challenge themselves and their perspectives. For many of our participants, traveling to Germany was their first experience outside North America, the first stamp in a brand new passport.  Just like a teacher witnessing the “lightbulb” go off in their students’ eyes, it gives us immense joy to watch the “sparks fly” among our study tour participants as they interact with a time witness, visit a historic site, make a new lifelong friend, form a new bond, draw a new conclusion, sample a new cuisine, and even discover the meaning of Gemütlichkeit with a cold beverage in hand. These are the moments that drive us to make TOP better for educators and their students alike. We at TOP live for these moments as much as our educators do.

It is precisely for this reason that we have taken so much time to evaluate our options for summer 2020. We have examined every angle and spoken with partners throughout Germany to determine whether we can facilitate study tours that maintain the health, safety, and well-being of not only our participants but also of our partners, hosts, and colleagues. Unfortunately, after much careful consideration, we do not believe we can safely do so while also maintaining the quality of our study tours. It is with much sadness that for the first time in 17 years, we will be unable to conduct our study tours.

With that said, we are optimistically setting our sights ahead as we extend deferred acceptance to successful 2020 study tour applicants. These applicants will receive this notification by e-mail shortly. This decision does not necessarily preclude the possibility of a new application period later this year for summer 2021, so please continue to monitor TOP social media channels (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram) @topteachgermany and be sure to visit the TOP website at www.goethe.de/top.

On behalf of all of our public and private partners - the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, the Goethe-Institut, Deutsche Bank, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, and the Siemens Corporation - we extend our sincerest thanks to our 2020 applicants for their patience as we have carefully examined this situation. Most importantly, we wish all of you the best of health such that someday we, in the renewed spirit of “wunderbar together”, may all walk down the jetway and onto a plane with the destination: Deutschland.

It is customary in Germany, before taking a sip from a drink, to make brief eye contact, even for just a fraction of a second, with the people – even strangers and enemies – around you. In that moment a unique, silent communication occurs as everyone expresses an appreciation for the gathering and for the health of those present. Accompanying this eye contact are three spoken words, which we extend to you now: Prost. Zum Wohl.

-The TOP Team (Anne, Wood, Jenny, Lisa)