Tom Sorosiak (right) chats with a member of the Atlantik-Brücke delegation during the group’s campus visit in November.

Tom Sorosiak (right) chats with a member of the Atlantik-Brücke delegation during the group’s campus visit in November.

Bridging the Atlantic earns Sorosiak German award

The 2008 presidential election was a momentous time for the United States, and Ohio was in the thick of events. To observe the process firsthand, a group of German officials, businesspeople and students came to Bowling Green, aided by Tom Sorosiak, education. For Sorosiak, a former social studies teacher in Toledo Public Schools, helping organize the visit was only the latest in a long history of fostering cross-cultural relations.

For his efforts in facilitating the group’s stay, and in recognition of his many years of work with Atlantik-Brücke (Atlantic Bridge), a German-American exchange program that annually takes U.S. teachers to Germany, Sorosiak was given the Cross of the Order of Merit by the Federal Republic of Germany. German Ambassador Klaus Scharioth presented the award, which was bestowed on Sorosiak by President Horst Köhler.

In presenting the award to Sorosiak, Ambassador Scharioth described him as a “tireless partner” in the effort to build bridges between Germany and the United States and a “true and committed friend of Germany.”

The ceremony was held at the German embassy in Washington, D.C. “It was an amazing evening, and the medal presented to me is absolutely beautiful. I will treasure it forever,” said Sorosiak. “I was thrilled to hear Ambassador Scharioth recognize BGSU in his statements to me. I really believe it is a terrific reflection on the progressive attitude of BGSU.”

News of the award was included in the German Embassy newsletter, which cited Sorosiak for “his commitment to improving and intensifying transatlantic relations. Mr. Sorosiak is co-program director of an exchange program for American social studies teachers sponsored by the Atlantik-Brücke, an organization dedicated to fostering greater German-American understanding. Mr. Sorosiak’s extraordinary commitment to that project, which was originally limited to Ohio, has helped expand it to a total of thirteen U.S. states. Mr. Sorosiak intensively prepares the study trip participants for their stay in Germany and offers the opportunity for returning teachers to attend a seminar on modern-day Germany, taught at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Approximately 2,000 teachers have been able to participate in Mr. Sorosiak’s seminars on modern-day Germany and thus pass on their knowledge to an estimated 500,000 students.”

During the Atlantik-Brücke group’s visit, a university partnership was established between BGSU and the University of Hildesheim. The agreement was signed by BGSU President Carol Cartwright and Hildesheim President Wolfgang-Uwe Friedrich. (See

May 11, 2009