Cesar, GEM Student from the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town
The COVID 19 pandemic came as a bombshell to everybody worldwide, because it affected everybody in one way or another through the economic, social and negative mental impact that it had.
As we all know, the pandemic caused the economy to shut down. Talking about my personal experience, it was not a delightful experience at all. It came out of nowhere and everything was locked down in no time. This affected everyone, including me and my family. The effect of this unfortunate period can be categorized into three categories: personal economy, social experience and studies.
The impact of the pandemic negatively affected our economy. This is due to the economic total shutdown that happened worldwide. We live off of our daily breadwinning. We live in a foreign country and most of the time it’s hard to get formal employment. In this case, one needs to work hard to put the bread at the table. So, one can imagine something that came without warning and suddenly shut down everything was a shock and it was hard to cope with.
Seeing people around you panicking and buying to stock up their homes also brought back memories of war. People were buying supplies when the crisis was rising in my home country, because it was ordered through the national radio that nobody was supposed to leave their house.
The social experience was caused by us, like everybody else, staying at home. Being at home at all times with the whole family between closed doors for such a long time is a new experience. The routine has changed. Children became exhausted as they were never used to this kind of life. Parents were stressed, because they didn’t know how they were going to feed their families during the lockdown.
It wasn’t a very relaxed mood at home staying with the family not knowing if you’re going to be able to provide for them in a few days to come. Furthermore, children are used to routine – waking up at a certain time, going to school, daily school activities, coming back from school, having meals at home and so on. Having these routines disrupted wasn’t easy, especially for those with special needs, like our firstborn.
Reflecting on our studies, I’d say that it wasn’t affected too negatively. We’re familiar with working remotely, since our program is an online study program where every student progresses at their own pace. Besides, some academic coaches are assigned to help the students. This never stopped during this pandemic period. In addition, the center assisted with internet data to help students to be able to work at home. The Uplearn program worked harder to provide support to students by adjusting their program to fit the online environment.
At the beginning of every month, students have to identify a goal that they work towards and one of the program facilitators will go over it with them. This never stopped. Instead, it was done via video calls it and motivated students to keep progressing.
In conclusion, the pandemic period shocked people globally, however, I’d say that for us GEM students it didn’t get to a critical level as most of us are trained to adjust to problems emotionally regardless of the cause. Our program not only covers the academic material, but also trains students to become problem solvers. This helped us get through this challenging period.