Making the best of the Germany trip cancelation



The logo of the Association of American Teachers of German

A few weeks after taking the National German Exam, I went to class excited to learn what my score was. If I got a score within the 90th percentile, I would be able to go to Germany for an educational trip, all expenses covered. I was excited about this, as going to Europe had always been a dream of mine.

During class when my teacher announced the top scorers for the exam, I was not disappointed—I won a gold medal and was eligible to go to Germany. However, I figured that the trip would be delayed due to the pandemic.

However, that afternoon, my teacher revealed that the trip to Germany was canceled and in its place were options for virtual and in-person immersion activities, both options not taking place in Germany. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

Later that day, I had a thought: “Couldn’t the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) have postponed the trip so that students could still go?” This is a once in a year opportunity, and only about 1000 students in the country scored high enough to be eligible for the trip. With such a proportionally small amount of students who got the gold medal as opposed to silver, bronze, and nothing, the AATG could have postponed the trip.

But postponement would logistically be a nightmare. We still don’t know when COVID-19 will cease, when vaccines will be available for people under sixteen, and when countries will reopen their borders. Moreover, the extra-contagious variant of the virus is rapidly spreading in Europe, and may knock over all of the efforts to get through the pandemic.

Since we can’t go to Germany, the immersion activity options provided are the next best option. There are both in-person and virtual options so that students and their families can decide what they are comfortable with doing. In addition, there even is an option to attend a four-week program that awards four extra high school credits.

The alternative, however different from the original it may be, is what this pandemic brought us. I feel that this option as a stand-in for a trip to Germany is the best that could have been done, however frustrated with this situation I am. I think that some don’t see that people in charge of education are doing the best they can to set forth alternatives to normal activities and keep everyone safe.

For example, many think that the cancelation of winter sports was a bad decision, but I disagree. Decisions such as these were and are made to slow down the effects of the pandemic in our community so that things can go back to normal quicker. The decision about the National German Exam award is the same. If nothing is done to stop the spread of COVID-19, such as cancelling or postponing some things, the pandemic will only increase, pushing back reopening and hindering efforts.

This trip, if it were normal, would have been cherished for years. That’s why I went into taking the National German Exam with the goal of getting the chance to go to Germany. I came out of it not angry that it wasn’t possible that I can’t go to Germany, but grateful that there is an available substitute for it.

We’re all waiting to get out of the pandemic. But only if we stay safe and give some things up can we do so.