Welcome to 2021: A new year has started, and we all are very excited to see what the future brings. 2021 is a year full of hope. While 2020 was the year of COVID-19 and lockdowns, 2021 will be the year in which we will overcome this pandemic. Personally, it is very impressive to see what collaboration beyond borders can achieve. Though COVID-19 took us all by surprise in 2020, this year we have knowledge gathered by numerous experts and new technologies such as self-test kits and effective vaccines at hand to fight the pandemic. While it is clear that each country has its specific needs and ways of dealing with the current situation, we know that we are all in the same boat—aboard the same space ship Earth—and COVID-19 has not been able to divide us. In this spirit, we will continue to promote mutual understanding, knowledge, peace, and empathy—the Fulbright Program's core values—on both sides of the Atlantic.
Welcome to 2021: A year in which Fulbright Austria will celebrate the 70th anniversary of our first exchange activity and the 75th anniversary of the global Fulbright Program. While 2020 was the year in which we started to celebrate our anniversary, we were not able to do this in person. We are happy that so many of you joined us online. Still, we have missed meeting up with our community members at Fulbright Austria events and hearing all the exciting and very personal Fulbright stories. In this new year, we are full of hope. We all look forward to being able to celebrate together with the entire Fulbright Austria family. This is what we are looking forward to in these challenging times.
Welcome to 2021: We are so excited to welcome our US students and scholars here in Austria. We have waited for so long; it is wonderful to finally meet the people beyond the applications. The first students and scholars have already arrived and started their Fulbright journey here in Austria. Together we had an excellent orientation, and they now feel well prepared for their time at Austrian institutions. The US Fulbright students Amy Millet from the University of Kansas and Elisabeth Fertig from the University of Michigan started at the University of Vienna and IFK, respectively. The US Fulbright scholar Nicholas Cullather from Indiana University-Bloomington began at the Diplomatic Academy. Join us in welcoming them to Austria. The next group of US Fulbright students and scholars from the 2020–21cohort is currently preparing for their travel and will arrive here in Austria at the end of February. We wish them all the best with their endeavors in Austria. Their health and safety is our highest concern, and we are grateful to Prof. Christoph Steininger and LEAD Horizon for donated self-test kits to our US grantees in Austria. In times in which we have to deal with new COVD-19 mutations, it is even more important that we focus on what is in our control to fight this pandemic and support the community.
Besides all the challenges of COVID-19, 2020 ended with wonderful news for us from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research. Minister Heinz Faßmann—himself a Fulbrighter—announced that the ministry would provide another 150,000 EUR in matching funds to double Austrian donations made to Fulbright Austria over the next years. With the support of all our donors and partners, we will be able to continue creating the extraordinary opportunities generations of Fulbrighters have received in the past.
In closing, I wish all of us a happy 2021 full of health, joy, and hope.
Hermann Agis, PhD