I dedicate this blog to all the amazing educators who, with little or no advance warning, have stepped up to remotely teach the world’s children. The stories I share below barely scratch the surface of what I hear and see among the educators here in Jordan as well as across the globe.
Working overseas is about being physically present to others and to their holistic needs.
But this unusual time means life for all of us has changed. The last day students attended school in Jordan was March 12th. We have been on various levels of curfew or lockdown since March 18th. Does this mean our work has stopped? Not at all. My work and that of many IDEAS Associates continues, especially for those of us involved in education.
- One IDEAS teacher wakes up each morning to 50 or more new WhatsApp messages about work. When she and I were texting the other day, she shared that she’d been working online from 9:30am until 6:00pm. (Another friend coined a new term: Zoom fatigue.) Days are long and tiring. But, she also wakes up to many emails from parents expressing gratitude for all she’s doing. She knows she’s still impacting the lives of her students.
- An IDEAS math teacher shared that he actually thinks his classes are going better online. Because his teaching is recorded, students can go back and review at their own pace. He’s growing and adapting and learning himself.
- And me? What does a library consultant do from home? First and foremost, she consults. I’ve helped librarians and teachers find the online resources they need. I’ve shared digital books with the refugee moms from my church’s kids club. I’ve held Zoom meetings with people planning how to transform the learning in their school. I’ve worked with a librarian to finish a library manual redo, a project we’ve wanted to finish for a year! But more than sharing professional expertise, I have tried to listen deeply to the fears and stresses that my librarian and teacher friends are experiencing. I’ve shared my own moments of anxiety and also where I find hope.
Our work provides an opportunity for us to connect, even when we're separated.
Yes, work does go on in this time of COVID-19. Not in the shape any of us would like, but in the shape we have been given.
It’s hard, but there is learning, growing, and even some moments of joy as we wait in hope for the day when we will one day again be working face-to-face with the people we love.
(Thanks to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his classic, Love in the Time of Cholera, for inspiration for the title of this blog.)
About the Author: Libby is an IDEAS Associate and professional librarian. She currently resides in Jordan and works with libraries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Enjoy other blogs by Libby, such as Living Beyond the Dream.