Lessons from the Tokyo Olympics
A recent piece of news from The Washington Post listed the most dramatic changes the pandemic has brought into our lives. It is a very useful guide, but it stopped short of providing instructions on exactly what to do — something I for one need at the moment.
On July 23, the Japanese launched the 32nd Olympiad sans the usual fanfare and teeming crowds. The Japanese, always seemingly ahead of everybody else, doggedly held on to their decision to hold the Tokyo Olympics after a year’s postponement, despite the uncertainties, the grim warnings, not to mention the relentless protests. Perhaps they are telling us one thing — the same thing that Manila Mayor Isko Moreno told media: that the coronavirus is not going to go away. It is here to stay. So instead of holding on to the illusion and behave as if the virus is going to disappear one of these days, we have to find ways to continue living in spite of it.
This is the glaring fact that we all have to accept. And that is where the wisdom of the Japanese government’s insistence on holding the Tokyo Olympics comes in. They are in fact telling us that life has to go on — and as long as there is a reliable system in place that will ensure there will be zero casualties, then there is that confidence that the world can rise above the crisis. Having risen from the ashes of nuclear disaster, once during World War II and then again more recently with Fukushima, who better than the Japanese to teach the world a lesson on surviving and living with crises?
The “Japanese approach” has inspired me to think about my own circumstance and role as a teacher. In the face of an educational environment that lacks genuine visionary and courageous leadership, I am left to imagine ways to engineer an approach that would create or adapt a method that would make face-to-face learning possible no matter how minimal. I take inspiration as well from different sectors such as corporate institutions that have evolved their systems and processes for them to continue to thrive. For me, in the final analysis, going to school needs to take on a different set of strategies. Part of the equation, in fact, just like what other dedicated teachers have done, might be for the school to go to the students instead. Whatever form the solution takes, it must be one that moves me and my students forward.
Sam Berns, a young American activist who has progeria, summed it up when he said that one of his philosophies for happiness is to: “Be OK with what you ultimately can’t do because there is so much you CAN do.” Hidilyn Diaz, Nesthy Petecio, and all the other Filipino Olympians have proven just that!
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Ramoncito O. Mandia works at the office of media and international affairs, Marinduque State College.