I remember the first time I first read about the “baby elephant” in one of the numerous documents the school receives with instructions for how to carry out the government regulations to protect our community from COVID. I read and re-read, and read it again. Even if I could understand the term “Baby Elefant,” it just didn’t make any sense in context, as there are no elephants in Austria. And even if we did have elephants, what did they have to do with COVID?
Now, we have learned that in Austria this term is being used to approximate a meter’s distance. Over the weekend, as I listened to well over two hours of press conferences, the “baby elephant” has grown to two meters. Does the use of this term make any sense to me now? No. But, I guess it does to the Austrians. That’s just one example of how living and working together with people from 65 different countries can get confusing.
One thing that I can say, is that I appreciate the way that Austrians tend to abide by the rules and seem to accept them with far less resistance than in the US. On Tuesday, as I rode the U1 to school, two Wiener Linien officials boarded the train and proceeded to ask for our passes or tickets. Everyone had one! In a community where these are checked so infrequently, I never cease to be amazed that almost 100% of travelers are in compliance.
A couple of hours after I arrived at school on Tuesday, we experienced a lengthy power outage in many areas of Vienna. The ICSV neighborhood was included in this. I left the school and was heading to the U-bahn, as my apartment had power and internet, so I thought it more productive to move to my home office. As I neared the intersection, I noticed that even the traffic lights were out. To my amazement, it was not a chaotic scene at all. Cars were taking turns criss-crossing across Wagramer Strasse. As a pedestrian, I was respectfully allowed to cross without running for fear of getting hit. Everything ran smoothly.
Even though it has been difficult to navigate through this year of constant changes and times of uncertainty, I have a growing appreciation for this beautiful country in which we live. When the officials frustrate me with constantly changing the requirements, I am reminded that we are to respect and support those who are in authority over us. I can attest to the fact that it is not easy making decisions for how ICSV should respond. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be the leader of a country who must make those decisions! The situation keeps changing, and so the plans keep changing.
On behalf of the administrative team and the school board, I want to thank you all for how you have responded to the changing plans and the difficulty of supporting your students as they continue to learn in a virtual environment. It is truly a privilege to live in Vienna and to serve this wonderful community. As always, we will update you as we receive information. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to support you. Be assured that we pray for you continually, entrusting you and your family to God each and every day.
Because of His Faithfulness,
Dr. Sharon C. Brobst, Director