Grit: What keeps students going in the age of pandemic
Grit. That is what I think is the face of the pandemic — at least, for college students who have overcome or are struggling to overcome their mental, emotional, and financial anguish to work on their modules or attend online classes.
I teach in a state university that has some of Western Visayas’ best and the brightest, who also happen to be the sons and daughters of fishermen, farmers, laborers, vendors, drivers, laundrywomen, OFWs, and salary men and women and every other member of the hoi polloi and middle class eking out an honest living.
As a professor staying up till the wee hours of the morning with a gazillion papers to check in Google Classroom, documents to write and edit, committee work to attend to, I get pleasantly surprised and a bit perturbed to get many notifications on Google Classroom from students who submit their outputs. Apparently, no one wants to be left behind. There is no pandemic that will sway their determination to finish college and live up to the expectations their families and communities have set for them.
I teach future teachers, and we all know that teaching is not the cushiest of jobs in this part of the Pacific. It requires some Wonder Woman and Superman powers to stay up writing lesson plans and checking papers and doing the same even on weekends on top of attending masteral or PhD classes for the sake of promotions (and some learning, I hope).
Isn’t it an amazing ability to juggle the demands of seven or eight subjects on top of domestic responsibilities, assisting your siblings with their own modules on top of farm work, or helping your fisherman-father and yet submitting outputs on time? Isn’t it pure grit to be swallowed up by frustration and depression and yet, calling on all reserves of concentration and willpower to finish that long essay and solve complicated math problems? And how about these admirable future teachers who work part-time in call centers, online jobs, and other odd jobs to help their families after their parents have been laid off from work?
Do I hear complaints from my students? Of course I hear many via chat, text, private message, calls, and every other means of communication. But at the end of the day, they stop their caterwauling and go back to pursue the dream of getting a diploma and, if possible, graduate with Latin honors and pass the licensure exam for teachers with flying colors. Our young men and women in this university have ambitions. Even before the pandemic, they were vocal about uplifting their lot in life, and in the thick of this plague, while they wavered a little, they are getting back little by little. Like most of the trials they have overcome in their young lives, they will surpass this one. I have seen it many times.
So, in the dead of night, early dawn, or on a weekend of rest, when my phone sounds off with another notification of a student submitting an output even though Google Classroom says “late submission,” I consider this part of the country truly blessed.
HAZEL P. VILLA,
La Paz, Iloilo City
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