My eyes hurt. I’ve never looked at computer screens for this many hours a day. I’m used to being in meetings all day and in many of those meetings, I’m on a computer, but this is different. I’m not looking at my colleagues across the room. I’m not greeting students in the hallways. I’m not walking around campus popping in on student programs and events. I’m not peeking in classroom doors to see faculty and students engaging in conversation. I’m looking two feet in front of me at screens all day long.
My heart hurts. My heart aches and breaks for what my students, my team and my faculty and staff colleagues are going through. So many students have lost their jobs. They don’t have money to pay their bills and put food on the table. Some don’t have a computer or the internet at home to continue their courses. One student who dropped her entire spring semester course schedule simply said, “I didn’t sign up for this.” I agree. I feel for not just my students, but also my faculty colleagues who got to “transition to online learning” with a week’s notice. I’m sure that was no big deal. I see my staff and colleagues, exhausted, struggling to work remotely while home schooling their kids and pushing the boundaries of network bandwidth and patience. It’s like being quarantined at an amusement park and the only thing you get to do is ride an emotional roller coaster all day long.
My brain hurts. My job was already crazy, now it’s pandemic crazy. Everything is a priority. Nothing is working. It’s business as usual, but this is far from usual business. I’ve had to learn 7 new technologies and 5 aren’t working…oh wait…8… I’m constantly reminded of some research that said that our brains actually cannot multi-task. I feel like sending that research article to the powers that be. The worry creeps in all day along – worry for family, for friends, for my colleagues and my students…and worry for myself. I pretend like it doesn’t get to me, but it does. I like to think I’m relatively healthy, but so did many others who are no longer with us. So, I push the worry away, again.
I think of f-words all day long. Frenzied, frazzled, frustrated, fried and… But, also fantastic, fabulous, friendly, fast, fierce and Friday.
I am proud. I am proud of my staff who stepped up, innovated, created and forged ahead in order to find new ways to serve our students, engage our students and support our students. I am proud of our faculty and students who entered into a learning experiment with little warning, no IRB approval and who are plowing ahead seeking to teach and learn in challenging and scary times. I am proud of my institution for stepping up and making more resources available in our emergency fund to help our students and for finding laptops to loan to our students without computers or the internet at home. I am proud of the long hours put in by all our college employees to help our students stay on track in pursuit of their educational goals. I am proud all day long of what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve weathered.
I am reminded all day long that we will get through this…together.
Julie L. Amon, vice president of Student Development Services at TCC Trinity River, is a lover of family, friends, mountains, travel, learning, service, nature, good food and photography.