For the first time in the forty-two years of the exchange, the Americans will be visiting Germany before the Germans travel to America, due to COVID.
Applications for the 2022 German Exchange Program opened on Monday, Feb. 1, allowing freshmen and sophomore students to start applying for the upcoming exchange.
Every two years, American students partner up with students from a school in Northeim, Germany for the exchange. The German students stay in America for three weeks in the fall, and the American students visit Germany for three weeks the following summer. If it were a typical year, the German students would be coming in the fall of 2021, and the Americans would travel in the summer of 2022.
However, the Germans will be traveling here in the fall of 2022 to try to ensure that there will be no cancellations because of COVID.
German teacher Timothy Welch hopes that this exchange will not be any different than the previous ones, aside from the dates. However, the group will not be able to attend one of the regular activities, Shear Madness, a show in Boston, because the theater shut down as a result of the pandemic.
As this is her second year teaching at WA, German Teacher Ashley Smith is preparing for the exchange for the first time. Although she participated in a similar exchange while she was in high school, this is her first time being a part of the WA-Northeim Exchange.
“I’m having lots of conversations with Herr Welch as we prepare to start the process of getting Austuasch [the exchange] 2021/2022 off and running. He’s sharing his insights with me,” Smith said. “I’m just soaking up as much information as I can so that when the time comes for the exchange, I can assist Herr Welch, our students, and the German group as much as possible.”
The German students visited America in the fall of 2019, but the American trip to Germany was rescheduled from the summer of 2020 to the summer of 2021.
Welch is following the regular timeline of setting up this exchange, in hopes that COVID will not affect this exchange like it affected the previous exchange.
“The focus will be on the new group because this is the normal timeline, anyway [. . .] but that doesn’t mean that we forget about the previous group that was still waiting to find out what’s going to happen,” Welch said.
Even with COVID, Welch remains optimistic for the exchange, since it is a popular program amongst students who take German.
“I think the exchange is a really great thing [. . . ] it’s a really positive experience,” Welch said.