Have you enjoyed your time globe-trotting and news-trending? In a way, you sure have infected everyone's lifestyles and affected everyone's priorities. Yes, we might have underestimated you, but don't let it get to you.
When you made your way to our sunny island, I was praying hard that you do not find your way into our schools. As an educator, the news of Home-based Learning (HBL) was conflicting one: on one hand, thankful that we could avoid an outbreak happening on campus, but on the other, it was going to be a great struggle digitalising lessons within such a short time frame. Fortunately, our teaching community helps one another by sharing innovative ideas and distributing our preparation work as much as we can. Yet, it is still really tough for both the teachers and the students. I found myself spending the day conducting live lessons, and in the evening, preparing, filming and editing videos for my class. It was work round the clock, not to mention the constant retakes that had to happen because... you can't stop others from making sounds while everyone is sharing the same space, right?
New routines took over old ones and soon, work and life seemed to blend into one confusing mash. Just to change things up, I decided on a whim to join Startup Weekend Singapore 2020, a virtual hackathon, with my husband (also an educator) and two friends. Since the theme was about addressing concerns on COVID-19 and our community, it took little effort to arrive at the idea – an app to make learning more fun, organic and accessible to all youths. Who would have known that this very room which we spent the majority of our time in could also become our competition ground where we met mentors (from across the globe) and pitched our idea to a really distinguish panel of judges. We literally jumped for joy at the news of us clinching the third place! Empowered by the validation and support from the panel, we decided to push our idea further and bring this learning support platform, Whyena, to our new generation of learners. For that, thank you COVID-19, you got us to unite under your name and had us innovating for solutions against some of the real-world problems that we would have otherwise just chugged along with as we were too occupied to slow down to address.
We can't stay closed off forever. Just as we were adapting to the new normal, school is about to reopen. I am looking forward to seeing my graduating classes (in person) and provide that support for the last mile. It is also tough on our students considering the insecurities at how all of these adjustments would affect their national exams.
No one will be able to predict how things may change or mutate for the near future until a viable vaccine is made available. But, we have proven that we can unite and have the tenacity to adapt and tide through these waves.
Dear COVID-19, just like how Whyena came to light, your disruptions will only sharpen our focus. Thank you for that but we would love to have our Good Fridays, Deepavali and Hari Raya back.