Anniversary During a Global Pandemic

© Watter al Bahry

In 2020, the DAAD Regional Office Cairo celebrated its 60th anniversary in Egypt.

It was in 1960 when the DAAD established its presence in Egypt through the Regional Office Cairo. Due to the unforseen circumstances in 2020, it was not possible to celebrate the 60th anniversary as planned. At the end of the year, the DAAD Secretary General, Dr. Dorothea Rüland, and the Director of the DAAD Regional Office Cairo, Ms. Isabell Mering, draw conclusions and look forward to celebrate the office’s “60+ Anniversary” in 2021.

Address from the Director of the DAAD Regional Office Cairo, Ms. Isabell Mering

Dear friends of the DAAD Regional Office Cairo,
Esteemed Alumni,
Dear partners, professors, students,
Ladies and gentlemen,

as we head towards the end of 2020, this year, which is particularly different from many others, comes to conclusion. The spread of COVID-19 and the declaration of a pandemic in early spring has changed everything, including our work and the work habits of all of us on a global scale. And still, we know it is not yet over and we still have to stand strong and united in taking care of each other stay safe and healthy in order to overcome the crisis as soon as possible.

The year 2020 marks the 60th Anniversary of the DAAD Regional Office Cairo since its opening in 1960; and which started overseeing Sudan in 2016. Mid-March, we were supposed to celebrate this special year with a “Großes Alumnitreffen”, giving an overview on the past as well as setting landmarks for the future. However, when unexpectedly everything changed, we had to adapt to guarantee the safety and health of our partners, colleagues and staff. But as a famous German proverb says: “Aufgeschoben ist nicht aufgehoben.” – the celebrations are certainly not cancelled, they will be rescheduled for the new year.

Nevertheless, and despite certain challenges and obligations to cancel certain events and plans, 2020 has also been a year of reflection and new possibilities. Indeed, an invisible virus has turned all our lives all around the globe upside-down and it has certainly put lives at high risk, but life and work also continue by alternative options and modern and innovative solutions. Telecommuting is finally adopted in many work places, the long-discussed digitalization strategies have gotten a real boost that put it into practice merely by demand. Universities worldwide had to switch from physical classroom teaching to blended learning and online solutions, digital components had to be added to curricula and examination procedures, scientific conferences were held in the virtual space and freshly graduate students had to be applauded and celebrated in front of computers and notebooks in the new normal.

Especially with regard to our intercultural gatherings and cross-border scientific talks, virtual gatherings come with challenges. Be it for unforeseen technical issues, slow and bad quality internet connections, aspects of cybersecurity as well as the fact that no virtual solution could ever replace personal meetings and exchange of ideas “face-to-face”, yet  these options have allowed us to continue our networking and sometimes even strengthen our professional ties in these times of crises. It has allowed the DAAD Cairo team to successfully continue its daily activities with regard to advising and offering information sessions on Germany as a study and research destination as well as funding opportunities.

One tradition that would not change this year is to give credit and thanks where due. We would therefore like to cordially thank all our dear partners from Egypt, Germany and the whole MENA region, our evaluators and active Alumni for their support and for the ongoing networking on ideas, common concepts and strategies for new events and conferences we will be working on for 2021! Digitalization will definitely remain a topic with ongoing and even growing significance in the region and also worldwide. I am sure we all agree by the current experiences that digital solutions are the gateway for cooperation in times of a pandemic, but also with regard to other pressing issues like climate change. We already do observe dynamic and profound efforts to re-think the current status quo and these observations and the ongoing learning process we have to face since the spread of COVID-19 will certainly accompany us for at least some more months in the year to come. At the same time, the importance of personal encounters is undeniable and that’s why we hope so much to be back in direct contact with all our partners and friends of the DAAD Regional Office Cairo as soon as the situation permits in 2021: to celebrate the office’s “60+ Anniversary”, to enhance academic and scientific ties on the spot and to draw conclusions of the current situation.

Let us seize the upcoming period of transition between 2020 and the new year to reflect and think about new ideas of scientific exchange with regard to the demands and needs of our countries and the current challenges and – last but not least – to be aware of the situation and take care of ourselves, our families, friends, colleagues and teams to stay healthy!

Along the whole team of the DAAD Regional Office Cairo, I wish you a pleasant and safe Christmas time, a very happy start into the New Year and all the best to you and your families. We hope to meet you all the soonest possible in 2021, be it virtually or, inshAllah, in person!

Yours sincerely,

Isabell Mering

Director DAAD Regional Office Cairo

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