By Gavrielia Constantine, Secondary English Education and English Major, ACH Clear Pathways and Community Writing Center Intern
Let’s be honest. COVID-19 has made things weird. And frankly, I probably see that message above more in one day, than how much I hear from my family in a week. But as strange and unfamiliar much of it seemed in the beginning, it is almost as if we’ve devised a new societal norm where excepted human connection is either through a video call, or the distanced view of someone’s eyes above their mask. So, when my writing class was cancelled this semester and I needed to fill that space in my schedule, I went fully into this internship, having no idea what to expect. Whenever I envisioned being involved in an internship, I never imagined it’d look like this. That is, I guess I always thought I would be walking through an actual door to get to my job, not clicking the “join with computer audio” pop-up to see multiple little faces staring back at me and my tiny on-campus apartment. Instead of desks, pencils, and the echoes of the students involved in the after-school program, the reality has become laptops/tablets, zoom sound malfunctions, and the occasional roommate off-screen distractions. (Seriously, one of my roommates accidentally microwaved a mug that had metal in it during my zoom meeting and I thought the place was going to blow.)
Besides these obvious differences though, I am still very optimistic with my internship as a writing consultant. Media and television often display interns as unhappy workers who do not really care for their jobs, as it is just a stepping stone to a bigger ambition (think Ryan from “The Office”). But after my first week with these kids, despite various complications and technical difficulties, I could not be further from this depiction as I found myself leaving the sessions smiling. I think that especially in these times of a pandemic, we find ourselves craving attention and communication with others more than ever. It is so much easier to feel unheard when you’re not face to face with someone. I realized this as I talked with the kids at ACH. They want to be heard, to let others know that they too have a voice. Writing is a great way to find an expression as an outlet of communication.
While we are only one week in, I feel as though my outlook on life as a student has evolved even more than what it was in the beginning of the semester. We really do need to take every moment for what it is worth and make the most of it. Right now, we can compare almost every aspect of daily life to “how it was before” (yes, pretty much what I just did two paragraphs ago), or we can see the moment right now in its uniqueness, and value it for how we may never be able to experience it like this again. Sure, I may not be able to physically sit next to a student, but I can help them from miles away, and reach them through technology with other methods and creative modules that may have been dismissed in other circumstances. It is an eye-opening experience for those in the field of Education. Sometimes it is easy to forget that there is more than one way to achieve something, that is until the obvious and most practical way is made impossible.