Recently, I looked into the report from the February’s Foundation Board meeting. We planned in detail a very promising year there - with a record number of projects and visitors. We even complained a bit that a very busy period is appearing on the horizon while we were hoping to slow down after the jubilee year.
Now, just a few weeks later, this report is read like a document from a distant, alien world. Instead of planning how to use resources most efficiently so that our team is not overloaded with managing a large number of projects, we are thinking about how to save the Foundation from imminent collapse.
Between March and June, 69 multi-day projects were to take place in Krzyżowa, in which nearly 3,000 people were to participate. Mostly they were Polish-German school exchanges. All these meetings had to be canceled in consequence of a coronovirus pandemic.
The current crisis will affect most areas of our lives. It will also affect German-Polish relations. It may turn out to be a big challenge for them, but, like any change, it may also have a creative element in some areas. This is not the time for crystal-ball gazing, what, when and how exactly something will happen in the Polish-German relations. There are more questions than answers. But in order to be able to look for solutions to the problems that will arise in the future - the one that is closer and a little bit farther away - it is possible to name them today, even if only by calling their respective areas.
A force in the Community or an escape into nationalism?
The epidemic of the coronavirus has stopped the world from functioning as it has been known for generations. It puts to the test not only financial liquidity, family relationships, the psyche of the individual, but also a classic school model, with which we were forced to say goodbye at the beginning of March.
Teachers had to face the challenge of distance learning, use platforms and tools that have not been tested so far, familiarize themselves with and co-create a new space for education, with methods of management, control and feedback, which have not been tested yet.
The creation of this new distance learning structure is currently facing a large wave of criticism within the educational environment as well as from parents. Closing the schools overnight prevented the teaching council from developing joint and coherent methods of action during the crisis, setting priorities, or finding optimal solutions. There was no time to analyze even hypothetical educational activities conducted remotely, and there was not enough space to set specific educational goals.
Schools in Germany, as well as in Poland, have switched to the distance learning. Students receive sets of tasks to solve them at home, sometimes communication with teachers is supported by chat or video conferences.
The isolation order has enormous consequences not only for the operation of the schools but also for school exchange projects. International meetings are canceled, students and teachers must stay at home. This is obviously a huge loss for everyone who was eagerly awaiting meeting young people from other countries. Certainly some meetings will be postponed, others may never take place.