Corona and DAAD

J. Mukherjee

These days we all live in the rhythm of the corona crisis. We are all directly affected by the massive restrictions on public life and the widespread closures of schools and numerous other institutions. Many of us have - with good reason - a queasy feeling when watching the news, especially regarding the latest infection figures and the constantly changing worldwide travel restrictions.

The DAAD is also directly affected: "Change by exchange", our core mission, can only be pursued if international academic exchange is possible. This exchange is currently being massively restricted. We are thus preparing for further weeks and months with considerable restrictions in worldwide exchange, in our funding actions and regarding to DAAD events. Yes, it is even conceivable today that we will have to suspend our work in 2020 to an extent that we could not have imagined only a few days ago.

But especially in these times, it is a positive sign that the federal and state governments, that the European Union, that so many responsible persons worldwide take the insights, prognoses and recommendations of epidemiologists and virologists - i.e. scientists - very seriously. It is right that they – guided by science – are taking all the necessary, even drastic, measures to slow down the spread of the infection. In this way, they enable our health systems to care for the seriously ill people at all times. Thus, they particularly protect the risk groups in our societies. We hope that in Germany we will manage to keep the risk of endangering or even losing fellow citizens as low as possible.

For us as an organisation that promotes and lives international exchange this situation is a challenge. As the DAAD, we will of course make our contribution to overcoming the crisis - be it through intensive support for those affected by the extensive travel restrictions, be it through the flexible handling of the now emerging problem situations at our member universities, be it through the use of digital formats to compensate for the "social distancing" imposed on us all.

This pandemic is also proof that we all live in a globalised world, on this one planet and that we cannot close ourselves off from each other fundamentally. As mankind, we face common global challenges and we must understand that we can only meet these challenges together. It is encouraging that science, in its cooperative worldwide efforts to rapidly develop new therapeutic approaches and a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, is providing a good example of how to assume global responsibility in a globalized world.

This state of emergency - both nationally and internationally - shows one thing above all else: every citizen can contribute so that we can get through this crisis together in the best possible way. We can all show through attentive, level-headed, solidarity-based behaviour that we stick together as a society, protect the weaker members of society and allow the many professionals in our health system to work optimally - from strict adherence to the hygiene guidelines of the Robert Koch Institute to patiently enduring any quarantine measures up to providing shopping assistance for older fellow citizens.

This is undoubtedly a severe test for our state and our health system - but it is also a test for all citizens, because it will affect each and every one of us in the coming weeks and months. Let us seize this opportunity.