Embracing the New Normal

Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Three students walking

“It feels great to be back teaching in person,” said Alicia Batten, Professor of Religious Studies and Theological Studies.  “It is much easier to communicate with people, even with masks on. It was a bit odd coming back to the classroom in the middle of the semester, however. I was meeting some of the students for the first time, yet we were halfway through the term.” Thanks to the pandemic, Conrad Grebel University College had a peculiar, but exciting beginning this term as all activities and classes resumed in-person in early February.  

“Grebel is slowly and safely returning to its old self, and it’s been lovely to see Grebelites adjusting and growing within all the regulations,” shared Knowledge Integration student, Isabel Neufeld. “It feels like real school again! And I’m glad for the opportunity to see the people I’ve been studying and working with virtually for so long.”  

“Having had in-person classes all throughout the pandemic, this term felt different," shared Computer Science student Tom Iagovet. “Going to class is no longer just supplementary learning; campus is once again the hub of all activity, learning, clubs, and so much more. Catching up on everything with friends is as great as it has always been.” 

In spite of the uncertain environment the world is facing, Grebel's staff and students persevered through this difficult time by maintaining a strong sense of unity. “The community at Grebel has never been shaken by the isolation this pandemic has brought upon us, but it’s something else entirely to get to actually see everyone, and have community suppers, and socials, and spend time with one another in the same room,” said Isabel.  

Going back to in-person classes and activities is gradually making the campus feel lighter as students get to experience a more vibrant student life. “I’m really looking forward to our End-of-Term Celebration, the banquet Grebel hosts every term, with performances from Grebelites and heartfelt speeches,” said Isabel. “I’m most looking forward to getting a bunch of Grebelites to come and see the museum exhibit my group and I are building, which is a year-long project in my program.”  

“The return to in-person learning showed me that one of the things that makes learning meaningful is building relationships with those around you,” reflected Tom. “While the complete return to in-person brought much uncertainty, it also made it so much easier to get to know my instructors and peers, to see their perspectives and passions.” Learning with and from others inspires students to dream and overcome challenges, and is made much more enjoyable by being physically together. 

By Ashitha Mantrawadi