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Local AP Economics Teacher Travels to Germany on Fellowship

Coffee High School’s AP Economics teacher, Cathy Latham, was recently selected as one of 115 social studies and STEM educators who traveled to Germany as fellows of the Transatlantic Outreach Program (TOP) last month. Latham recently completed her 26th year in education, all of which have been on Coffee High School’s campus.

TOP, which is based at the Goethe-Institut in Washington, DC, provides social studies and STEM teachers all across North America with classrooms materials, workshops, virtual exchanges, and study tours throughout each school year.

The organization states that as a central part of its mission, they organize study tours to Germany, which “provide educators with a nuances and balanced view of the important international partner” with Germany.

The organization states that through the program educators are given the opportunity to take back information from their trip and eventually implement information and “best practices” from Germany in their classrooms and communities in ways that can only be achieved through direct exchange.

Latham told The Enterprise that she learned about the trip opportunity through the Georgia Council of Economics Education, and she immediately applied. The application required having letters of recommendation and a personal lesson plan on Modern Germany. Shortly after she submitted the required documents, Latham received the news that she was one of the 115 selected to participate in this year’s fellowship.

During her trip, Latham visited several cities, including to Hamburg, Geisa, Leipzig, Vacha, Göttingen, and Berlin. Latham also had the opportunity to visit a refugee camp at Friedland and a refugee school where students are learning German in order to be accepted as legal residents.

The trip also featured several tours of German schools, including vocational and gymnasium schools, which Latham says are college prep schools for entrance into the university. The fellowship also allowed Latham and the other educators to visit the BMW Plant in Leopzig, the Federal Foreign Office, the American Consulate General, the Reichstag, Point Alpha, Potsdam, the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, and many museums.

The group was also invited to the Bachfest in Leipzig, where she was able to hear the Bach concert in the St. Thomas Church where Bach served as the music director.

 Latham stated that one of the most interesting parts about the trip was the lack of Internet in Germany, but she stated that the former East Germany suffer the “poor infrastructure we do in South Georgia.”

“They are working on getting broadband like we are and are fighting off competition with the Chinese, which I found interesting,” Latham stated.

Latham also stated that her biggest “take away” from the trip was how the Germans embrace their history. “Worst and all, they claim it and get on with it. They aren't tearing down statues and buildings because of ties to Hitler, Nazis, or Communists. It's their history, and they say that they are learning to deal with it and to not make that mistake ever again.

“I was even in the Foreign office and made a comment to the Directorate-General that the building we were in was lovely, to which he thanked me and said, ‘This was the very first building commissioned by Hitler for the Third Reich. Today, it's a government building used by all of Germany.’ The trip was truly amazing.”

Through TOP, over 1,600 educators have traveled to Germany as TOP fellows since 2002.

TOP is a public/private partnership of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, the Goethe-Institut, Deutsche Bank, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, and the Siemens Corporation. More information on TOP can be found at http://www.goethe.de/top.

The Douglas Enterprise

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