Dr. Nina Wichmann is the director of the Goethe-Institut Toronto since November 2019.

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03.06.2021 - Article

We ask her about her first impressions, experiences and future plans.

As head of the Goethe-Institut Toronto, you are responsible for the work of the Goethe-Institut in Toronto, but also in Western Canada. How was your start in Canada?

Thank you very much for the opportunity to introduce me to our audience on the West Coast! My start in Canada was different from other beginnings at work, because three months after my arrival in Toronto, the first lockdown began. Therefore, I was not able to travel to Vancouver yet and meet the friends and partners of our work on the West Coast as I would have done otherwise. Even in Toronto itself, most of the collaboration with our partners has taken place online. Apart from the pandemic situation, the start in Canada was very motivating. In my first weeks here, I met strong and motivated colleagues, experienced a broad spectrum of topics in or off work, and saw committed teachers and learners in our German courses. I am looking forward to the coming years!

What have you done so far?

I worked at the Goethe-Instituts in Nairobi, Warsaw, Sarajevo and Athens, and before that I worked in academia on civil societies in transformation processes. I have also lived in the U.S., two years in total, one of them in Seattle. From this sojourn I know Vancouver; but also Victoria, where I sailed from Seattle with friends. But I only sailed with them, I don't have a sailing license myself. When I walk along the shores of Lake Ontario and see the many small marinas, I would love to learn how to sail. But after the pandemic, it's time to get to know Toronto and Western Canada on land first.

What are you planning for the future?

We will continue the successful cooperation with our partners. Together with them, we will continue to develop our work and discover new terrains together. The Goethe-Institut will become more digital in the coming years, and also more sustainable. Our institute in Toronto and our network in Canada in particular offer excellent conditions for this. Expanding digital tools for our work will help us reduce the physical distance between Toronto and Vancouver, as well as the major cities along the way, for our work and make new types of collaboration possible. And addressing sustainability is not limited to practices of recycling. We are in the process of transforming the Goethe-Institut Toronto's meeting space into a biophilic air space that will foster intellectual and artistic engagements with nature. I also expect that the impact of the pandemic on societies in Germany and Canada will influence artistic practice and content in both countries in the coming years. Introducing these worlds of experience to each other and bringing them into conversation with each other will certainly also become part of our work.

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