By Aleeza Ahmed
Screams whirled inside my head. They circled my thoughts, luring me towards the inane. Compressing my brain, it awe-struck me and tried to draw me closer to the displeasing noise. The quirkiness of it all took over me and I fumbled towards the developing screeches. Others followed suit, and the whispers of ‘coronavirus’, ‘school closing’ and ‘six weeks’ surrounded me like anything. Teenagers around the world were excited, and yet I couldn’t figure out what was really going on, until I finally caught it. The sentence that changed the way I observed the world and people around me:
‘School is shutting down because of coronavirus!’
On March 9, 2020, Qatar announced the closure of all schools and universities. Students and teachers were forced to adapt and change their schedules to fit a new, online learning system. Schools had to develop these new arrangements in a matter of days.
For me, my schedule was turned upside-down. My school started a remote learning programme almost immediately, and suddenly my education was in peril. We needed to start our lessons as usual, and yet I was sitting on an empty desk, with nothing but my solitude and classwork. I could no longer giggle along with my friends and relish the brilliance of daylight, talking amongst ourselves about the simplistic things in life. Our most prominent concern was whether we had completed the homework on time, or if we scored above the class average on a test. Now, I was all alone, feeling meaningless. Nothing felt similar anymore.
Our online school system started on Tuesday, March 10. Our classes were to start at 7:30am and we would go through the school day as usual. Our classwork was to be set, the day before, and we were to finish the task during the set hour – and present it by the end of the session.
Of course, it wasn’t perfect. Students’ learning was disordered, as some subjects are too complex, or require some practicality to be taught in a way that pupils understand. Furthermore, my friends were now using an app HouseParty to stay in touch, many of us fought greatly to catch up with our schoolwork, and much to our anxiety, we couldn’t get in contact with the professors for any information or guidance until the lesson was over, which would then become counterproductive as we would have already presented the task.
Almost a week after the remote learning programme started, our school began live video sessions. These enabled us to connect with our teachers face-to-face, and almost proceed as though we were in a classroom via Zoom. Using this app allowed learning occur more freely, and at a more sustainable pace. Teachers could answer any questions in real-time, and class discussions were no longer a thing of the past. It was a new dawn and I was finally ready to face the challenges ahead of me. My courage and reassurance had climaxed, and for once, I felt that perhaps, this wasn’t some horrific nightmare, but rather an ecstatic and a peaceful dream
My online sessions advanced, and I felt myself accommodating to these peculiar circumstances and gradually admitted this as my new form of education. Almost immediately, I was trying to exceed my limits in terms of my studies, particularly in my core subjects.
Throughout this climactic encounter with Covid-19, I have learnt to sculpt and shape myself into a character which would help me through my times of distress. I have learnt to be more effective with my school commitments, to try my hardest and to accommodate to these bizarre times.
This new change in lifestyle and adopting a new healthy routine is becoming second nature to me as time continues. My family and I are now much more intimate with each other, as we understand each other in a much deeper way, which further enhances our connection as a family. Creativity has caught us in its wisp of excitement, and we have learnt that every day is a new day to explore something new, inspiring, salubrious and environmentally safe.
In my opinion, this pandemic has turned humans into more affectionate creatures, who no longer are mindless drones following the technology given to us today, but rather inspiring role-models who seek new and ambitious challenges.
Following is a small comparative poem which personifies ‘Virus’, and symbolises Covid-19, against ‘Hope’ which shall fuel humanity in the coming weeks.
A Shadowy figure,
Unforgiving and Unbiased,
Death and Disease
Follow it’s trail,
As it disappears into the ever-growing night,
It carries the skulls,
Of those who have fallen,
Into its malicious trap,
“No one can escape”
A joyful young soul,
Full of bundles of joy and jubilation,
It offers its services to those who believe,
That the future could possibly be better,
A smile across its face,
A sense of euphoria,
And calmly states,
“We are all in this together”
* The author is a student of Grade-IX at Doha College.
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