ERAU’s Holiday Tour Opens Window on Worldwide Pandemic

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach is taking audiences on virtual tours over four continents — showing how cultures around the world celebrate Christmas.

What You Need To Know

  • ERAU offers virtual tour of how world celebrates Christmas
  • Students act as tour guides on four continents
  • Student tour guides show how COVID is affecting Christmas celebrations in Germany 
  • The tour heads to Singapore Monday

It’s a virtual window into an historic German town during Christmas time, led by tour guides William “Tony” Hess and Bernd “Sirius” Claushen in Bremen, Germany.

“We are smack in the center of Bremen,” Hess said. “As you can see, we have the town hall here, and we have the church here.”

Both are students, Hess, from Embry-Riddle, is studying in Germany, and Claushen was a German exchange student at ERAU.

Armed with a cell phone camera, they’re taking the audience on a live walking tour, part of a first-of-its-kind series at ERAU called “Christmas Around The World.”

What started out as a peek into the global holiday season is also now an interesting look at other parts of the world dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is where the Christmas market would be — would be — here,” Hess said, pointing out the location.

“With many booths. Where you can buy some food. Something to drink,” Claushen explained.

German squares usually filled with merchants, shoppers, gifts, and Christmas spirit are now nearly empty. A musician who would normally have an audience is standing alone.

“Last week is when they announced that they were going to go into a harder lockdown,” Hess said.

Germany recently hit a record level for coronavirus deaths. This week, the government limited private gatherings, shops are closed.

“Pharmacies and supermarkets are only open now,” Hess said.

For him, the plan to be in Germany came pre-pandemic. The experience has been different than what he expected, but he is already planning his trip back when the historic town is full of life once again.

“I think I’ll definitely return sometime in the near future,” Hess said. “I want to experience it at its fullest.”

The “Christmas Around the World” series has drawn a lot of interest, ERAU leaders said. No decisions have been made yet, but they’re considering doing it again next year.

On Monday, the tour heads to Singapore.

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