2020 Year in Review
A Year of Darkness and Light
As I write this post in December, I join many people who feel that 2021 can’t come soon enough! Before we turn the page on 2020, there are a few things we will never forget about this year that changed our organization.
- We re-imagined the work we do. As the initial shock of the worldwide shutdown wore off, we quickly pivoted from the tactical to the strategic, and started asking big, lofty questions. How we will keep travelers safe before full implementation of a vaccine? What problems can we solve for US universities? What types of new experiences will travelers seek out? How virtual can we go? The idea “incubators” we created yielded exciting results:
- We now enroll Chinese and Vietnamese students at our CET centers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Ho Chi Minh City
- Global internships have successfully moved online
- ATA will be the new production arm for Great Courses, the online teaching company, as it develops new travel content
- Partnerships with renowned commercial brands have flourished—stay tuned for more specifics in our first 2021 newsletter!
- We re-prioritized how we work. The pandemic hastened the need to innovate new ways to collaborate, once all staff started working remotely in mid-March. Our investment in technology over the last few years was prescient, allowing seamless cloud-based file sharing, meetings on Teams, and flexibility to accommodate a variety of time zones, from Seattle to Cairo. We implemented “Project Solidarity,” a plan that offered additional time off for all US staff to manage their lives during the pandemic.
- We joined the racial reckoning that fanned out across the country. The summer protests for racial justice were the catalyst to our acknowledgement of our inherent biases as an organization and to commit to anti-racist work in our workplace, our programs, and our fields. We’re holding ourselves accountable with a 10-year plan and will measure our results each year.
Mourning Our Losses This Year
We deeply feel the loss of David Parry, our beloved Chairman Emeritus, who died in July. Not only did Dave show us how to manage many types of crises, he also taught us what “living well” over a long life looks like: a deeply committed partnership with his wife Susan; the vigorous pursuit of alpine trails, historic trains and military history; inspiration from young people and their ideas; and a keen intellect, fed by boundless curiosity. While the details of the pandemic are like no other crisis we’ve faced, Dave’s “playbook,” his hopeful optimism, and his sense of humor are never far from us as we navigate our future.
We also lost some wonderful and talented colleagues this year, as the pandemic decimated the fields of educational travel and study abroad. We remain in touch with many “alumni,” and continue to support them, however we can.
Here's to 2021!
While the world has changed dramatically, our commitment to international travel and education has not. We believe in what we do. May the world that opens up again for all of us be more just, gentle and whole. We can’t wait to see you!
With deep gratitude,