Full speed ahead!
That was our motto for 2020.
Looking forward to many encounters - and a full course calendar!
The year 2020 began with a lot of positive stress. Do you know these moments when you realize: what I'm doing is working! My passion catches on to others and something great grows!
That's how it was for us at TREFFPUNKT in January and February 2020. We already knew of many people from all over the world who wanted to come to us to learn German and experience German culture. To immerse themselves in real life in Germany. At the same time, the demand for English courses was growing. We were busy coordinating groups and planning the year with our host families. It became apparent that we would need even more host families to meet the great demand. We had conversations with language teachers who would be able to join our team during the hot phase of the year. We had planned and published the annual program, knew when and with whom we would make excursions to Coburg, Nuremberg, Munich or to the German-German Museum in Mödlareuth.
We were so well positioned in the team that we really had a specialist for everything. We were in the flow and knew: A brilliant year lay ahead of us all, and the encounters with you - our guests, host families and cooperation partners - were within reach. The anticipation was huge and we felt perfectly prepared! We were well on time and in a great mood!
Corona! Or: Language changes everything
The language school had to close - from one day to the next. For us as the TREFFPUNKT team, this came as a great shock. We could never have imagined that the world could come to a standstill like that, caused by a teeny tiny virus stronger than us humans. For me, Kristina, the first lockdown was more than just a punch in the gut. I immediately encountered major existential fear. Imagine: I only took over the school in 2016. Took over, that means I bought it. I took a huge risk to realize my lifelong dream.
Being an entrepreneur is much easier from the outside. But once you are one, you realize how many obstacles you have to avoid, how many decisions you have to make and how many tasks you have to relearn. I have already learned this in the first few years, sometimes with the greatest effort, with blood, sweat and tears. And it would never have been possible without the help of all the dear people who are devoted to me and the school. Together we had cleared large chunks out of the way. The year 2020 lay bright and clear before us - we knew: The school had never been as full as it would be in 2020!
Suddenly, this virus comes and paralyzes everything. We can't do anything about it. One after the other people are canceling their stays with us. We have to close the school. Dust settles on the desks where otherwise lively language lessons take place. Money is running out, I see my future in the darkest of colors. The dream is over! That's it! The last one turns off the light.
I sank into my depression and had a head full of dark thoughts. I was in a bad way.
But whenever we video-conferenced as a team to plan online lessons, think about next steps, or just keep each other updated, I heard a word that was new to me in this context, "dynamic." If I said the situation was nasty or difficult, my colleague Mareen called it "dynamic." When I said "This is a tough time," she said, "We couldn't have imagined living in such dynamic times!" That sounded surprising to my ears. And it changed something in my thinking. The word "dynamic" slowly but steadily trickled into my consciousness. And at some point I realized I was using it myself. At first cautiously, as if I wanted to give it a try. And later with more and more conviction. Yes! We live in dynamic times! It didn't feel so desperate anymore, but rather full of energy and only sometimes resigned or with a hint of fear. Only when I reflect on this dynamic year 2020 do I realize how much my credo shows here: language changes everything! My thinking, my acting, even my feelings!
The Corona situation has not become any more predictable overall - and my life's dream is still hanging by a thread. But we in the TREFFPUNKT team have made a decision: The school will survive! And we are now doing everything we can to face the dynamics in good spirits!
Solidarity of the TREFFPUNKT family
Not everything was bad in spring 2020: There are also really great things to report! First of all, we have to talk about you, our TREFFPUNKT family, alumni, friends and colleagues!
Many of you alumni had TREFFPUNKT plans for 2020, and even though you didn't get to travel to us, you did great things for us! Some of you supported us with vouchers or sent us donations so we could get immediate and straightforward financial help. Others wrote great Google reviews for us so that other people would know about our language school and take a language course with us next year. Still others put their trust in us and did not ask for a refund of the course fees they had already paid to us, but postponed the course for a year so that we would not get into a difficult financial situation. We met regularly at the online Stammtisch and talked about the situation around the world. At times there were 15 people at the Stammtisch meeting, spread out over half the world: from Panama, Brazil and the USA to France, Russia and Azerbaijan and even India, people were tuned in to us at the same time. That made us really euphoric! Being connected like that creates a wonderful feeling of TREFFPUNKT family!
The teachers of TREFFPUNKT have lost a lot because of Corona. From one moment to the next, they lost a large part of their assignments. And for them, too, the future was suddenly completely uncertain. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the TREFFPUNKT solidarity made it clear: We are a super team! We want the language school to survive this difficult time! Together we can do this! So it happened that some of our teaching staff began to offer online activities for the school of their own free will or to shoot entertaining video clips. Some reduced their fees, some donated their working time for a certain period of time. At one of the virtual teacher conferences, we talked about the fact that we would naturally have to cancel our TREFFPUNKT summer party. The regret about this was palpable and the desire for togetherness was great. So we came up with the idea that we would have a celebration for the team in the park this summer. Everyone should sit on their own blanket and thus keep the minimum distance to each other. And that's exactly how we did it on a beautiful summer evening in the Erba Park. As a special icing on the cake, there was TREFFPUNKT beer for everyone!
In the office team a very firm team spirit applied during the initial lockdown phase: It was clear that not every one of us was always as fit as we would be under normal circumstances. Or that we couldn't always work at normal times because of childcare. That was totally okay with everyone! We supported and motivated each other. And whoever couldn't work at the time didn't have to!
This solidarity of the TREFFPUNKT family really touched us, and it was the most beautiful gift that this pandemic could have given us.
New ideas thanks to the pandemic
The pandemic has meant that we have had new ideas and the time and opportunity to try them out!
Of course, TREFFPUNKT also immediately switched to online lessons. That really worked out great because all the teachers and participants were open-minded and accepted the switch. We gained completely new insights into other people's homes, got to know pets and found out together how to share a screen or how to mute the microphone.
Little by little, a small COVID-Special online offer is developing. The online TestDaF Challenge is particularly popular: Here, students who soon want to take the TestDaF exam learn important details about the exam in a very concentrated form. Every day for 60 minutes. This course has become a TREFFPUNKT online bestseller!
But other ideas were coming up as well: Why not offer an English course for children? It took place for the first time in early summer 2020! The English Challenge for Kids inspires children from seven with games, songs and crafts - in English, of course!
The places where classes are held are also becoming more exotic. One participant, who had no possibility to participate in the course via the Internet, was invited to the garden of his teacher, where he expanded his vocabulary under the parasol and with enough distance!
In April they said: Language courses remain forbidden until further notice. But exams were allowed again! In a joint meeting with lots of distance and masks, the team discussed how to proceed. Our bold plan: we have time, we have space, we have desire - so from now on we will offer every telc exam every week! Immediately we started to convert the rooms "Corona-ready", define exam dates and offer them in our online store.
We began to construct a kind of "cage" that completely enclosed the examinees. This allowed examinees to take the exam without a mask in the warm summer of 2020.
The demand for telc exams is also very high during the pandemic, but many exam centers have closed. That's why people from all over Germany have been traveling to Bamberg since May to take their telc exams at TREFFPUNKT. We are very happy that we were able to help some people to still submit their language certificate to an authority on time. In 2021, we will continue to offer all telc exams just as flexibly and consistently!
Super summer 2020: Full house and great happiness!
The TREFFPUNKT summer 2020 was fantastic! We never expected such a happy and busy summer after such a quiet and depressing time in spring. It started very slowly. A few stray people booked with us, we were happy and could hardly believe it. Then TREFFPUNKT alumni from Europe joined us, who also wanted to see their TREFFPUNKT family again and take advantage of the temporary freedom to travel. Among others, Nicola came with her whole family - her husband Steve, her twins and her mother! The adults were doing a German course with us and the children were looked after by us. Language course for the whole family with babysitting, that was also a specialty of TREFFPUNKT in 2020!
In addition, our C2 German course was able to run in a small group. A German course at such a high level that some Germans would have difficulty following it. Our participants did not find it difficult at all! They dealt with current topics on politics, society, literature and of course the city of Bamberg that surrounds them. With mixed feelings, because on the one hand it was really great that the course could run and on the other hand it was sad because some TREFFPUNKT alumni would have liked to be there too but could not travel. We thought of them often!
The summer of 2020 will remain in our memories! After a long dry spell, we were finally able to do what we love again: Teach German, plan courses, carry out cultural activities. Although always with a mask and adapted to the new conditions, but otherwise almost as per usual. We were in our element, having our Stammtisch in restaurants and breweries again and we offered excursions. We almost forgot about Corona.
But then came fall, and worse, winter! The second lockdown, again travel restrictions, again quarantine. Again bookings are cancelled. Again fear spreads. Again we don't know if and how things will continue. We have one Christmas wish, one hope: that the vaccination will come soon to ensure freedom of travel again.
Because there is one certainty that is stronger than ever through Corona: We want to be a school that offers German courses on site in the beautiful city of Bamberg! We are completely obsessed with the direct contact with our participants, with the shared experiences, learning, laughing and living together! TREFFPUNKT is attended by the nicest, most interesting, open-minded, beautiful and lovable people from all over the world. And nothing is more beautiful for us, the entire TREFFPUNKT team, than to welcome you here.
Online is a great alternative in times of pandemic. But as soon as it is possible again, we want to live real life with you again! We want to laugh and learn together, walk and swim, experience and establish traditions. We are looking forward to meeting you!