Friday, July 17, 2020

By Nadine Ibrahim
An open letter to students learning online.

This is an open letter to students going through a remote learning experience this term, but it’s not a general letter, I have my own class in mind as I write this, so this is specially written to the 2B and 4A CIVE. For those that need these words today, I write this with the intention to support, but more importantly, to motivate. This class will be forever memorable and will go down in history as the first class to go through a fully online term. We’re just past the halfway mark in the term, and just like in a marathon, it’s when you can see that you are closer to the finish line than you are to the start line. Runners persevere to get to the finish line! 

How many times have you heard your instructors, or your TAs, or even received emails from the University referring to these times as a crisis, challenging, difficult, uncertain, and unprecedented? Are you still counting? Too many to count, but every time you read it or hear it, it makes you fearful of what is yet to come because we don’t like too many unknowns. But you know what’s also unprecedented, your ability to navigate this new experience, your skill to adapt to the new tools and platforms, your capacity to take it all in and come this far in the term, with some sweat and tears, but you’re still standing. Be proud of what you’ve achieved so far. You are trailblazers! 

We didn’t choose this teaching approach, and you didn’t choose this learning style, but we all found ourselves thrust into this environment with only as much preparation as our technologies would allow. You are not studying from home, you are at home studying during a crisis, to put things in perspective.

And you’re probably evaluating your own performance comparing yourself to yourself, but please, while you’re at it, compare yourself today to yourself on Day 1 this term. You are more resilient than you thought, mentally stronger than you imagined, and more adaptable to change. You are trailblazers! 

And in a few short weeks, when the term is behind us, know that you are the most experienced group of students worldwide because you did it, and we can only learn from you. Students that follow will be asking you for advice and will receive your responses in amazement. And instructors will look to you because right now you are the gauge by which we can measure the extent to which we were able to teach, engage, assess, and evaluate. You are trailblazers! 

If doubt ever creeps in, remember you’re working with all the tools and learning strategies made available to you, but you are not guinea pigs. You are trailblazers!

I wish you success and I wish you stamina to get you to the finish line.

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