topic_interest is exactly gratitude
Lian McMillan Oral History, 2021/05/06Self Description: “I’m a 21-year-old musician. I just recently graduated from U[niversity] of T[oronto] a week ago, and I graduated with a classical percussion degree. I play for a band called cutsleeve. We’re a group of east Asian, queer sound musicians. I’m a mixed race woman, my father is white, and my mother is Chinese. I’ve lived in Canada, the [United] States, and I lived in Shanghai for a few years. I’m a dog owner.”
Appreciating FamilyWhen reflecting back on my own experiences from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a lot of things that come to mind: how my freshmen year of college was completely upended, how I did not feel safe to return to my part-tine job, and especially how nerve-wracking it was to watch world leaders navigate through a crisis we had yet to see in our lifetime. Acknowledging these difficulties that I personally faced, along with the challenges people across the world faced, is crucial because, unfortunately, fear is apart of this story that history will tell; however, I have always found myself someone who tries to remain rather optimistic, which I find myself doing as I share my story. Though I hesitate to call the COVID-19 pandemic a ‘blessing in disguise,’ it did open my eyes and help me to become much more grateful for one huge aspect of my life: my family. I have been very privileged to have a close and loving family my entire life, though it took me a while to realize what a privilege this was. Sitting down each night to dinner and having a lively conversation with my mom, dad, and younger brother was the norm to me, so I rarely considered the notion that that wasn’t the same for everybody else. When the pandemic first struck and shut down life as we knew it, I – a 19-year-old college student – suddenly found myself back at home living every single day with my family. This was a very jarring shift for me after experiencing the freedom that college granted me, but I quicky began to see how lucky I was to have a loving and accepting family to get through this difficult time with. Of course, this is not to say I never got frustrated with constantly being around my family, but it made me appreciate all the good moments that we had together. Together, we formed a stronger bond as a family that helped us to get through the physical and mental toll the pandemic had brought. From trying new meals together, watching new shows/movies together, to creating wacky videos to share with our friends and family, and so much more, I began to appreciate all the little moments we had together. As things somewhat begin to return to a state of ‘normalcy,’ I continue to reflect on this time I spent with my family, and I cannot help but feel a huge sense of gratitude. I truly have learned to appreciate everything they have done for me (and continue to do), as well as learned to appreciate many more facets of my life. Nowadays, I find myself much more cognizant of the seemingly simple things and not taking them for granted. It is strange to think that something such as a global pandemic can be the thing that really cements an idea or feeling in our minds, but that is what COVID-19 did for me and my appreciation for my wonderful family.
How history got me through lockdownA story I wrote about using history to keep a sense of perspective and gratitude through Melbourne's long lockdown in 2020. Coming against a background of university job losses and policies disfavouring humanities degrees I also wanted to let historians know that their work is important and has relevance.
They Make This All Worth ItIt is weird to teach high school online. I usually get to know my kids by wandering around the room and making small talk. By inviting them to go running with me during 6th period (the athletic period). By running into them walking to Starbucks before an after-school review session. By leaving my room open at lunch as an alternative cafeteria. These things are not an option this year. When you teach, the jokes you make, are the kids laughing? The topics you’re really excited about sharing - are the kids excited? Are they REALLY listening when they nod at you, or are they texting their best friends out of the view of the camera, or playing a video game on a separate device? The silence is the weirdest part. Do the kids pick up on the little one liner remarks I drop in? Honestly, I get SO EXCITED when the Zoom chat lights up. It is truly my favorite part of any period because it’s like being back in class, having a real conversation, instead of me calling on students to answer and visiting them in break out rooms. They don’t like to unmute themselves to comment. Even in break out rooms they are still a bit anxious when I appear. They’re always willing to share when I call on them, so I know they’re learning the content. But I do sit up at night while I grade and wonder if the kids are actually enjoying class. I love teaching so much, and I love my kids so much, it hurts to think that this year’s kids just aren’t getting the same experience. And I am 100% in favor of staying on Distance Learning until our case rates decline, so I don’t have an agenda to re-open here. And this is why these letters I received in November are so meaningful to me. Our school ASB put out a “thank a teacher” post on Instagram, telling kids they should email a teacher and thank them. Honestly, our school has very little school spirit - ASB activities and assemblies are attended by very few students. Therefore, I didn’t think much of their social media challenge to “thank your teachers.” But then, I checked my inbox. And I became teary eyed. Honestly, I expected letters from the seniors. I was very, very close to last year’s kids. We had a great year before quarantine, and then when quarantine hit, it was like I had 180 best friends who would DM me at all hours because they were lonely, mad, sad, scared, and frustrated. And I didn’t mind because I love my kids. It’s not like I had anything else to do at 2 am the world had turned upside down. But this year’s kids have never met me in person. We don’t have the same relationship as I had with last year’s kids. So, I was so, so surprised by the number of current students, some of whose emails I have submitted (with all identifying information and names redacted) who wrote to thank me. I was hesitant to submit this at first, because I’ve never been one for public bragging, which is sort of what sharing thank you letters seems like to me. I know there are teachers who post every message a kid sends them, but I am not that person. A thank you from a kid is personal, and is something you keep but do not need to share. However, these emails are a really important part of my pandemic experience. They demonstrate to me that I have not totally failed this year. These kids who have never met me face to face, sharing such kind words, and excitement for learning history is probably the biggest personal win of this entire pandemic year. These kids will never know how much these words meant to me, and how much they motivate me to give 100%, even when we are all just within our tiny Zoom boxes. I hope with all that is within me that I can get vaccinated in time to be able to teach them in person before this year ends. They have shown over and over again this year how amazing they are, and I want to be able to be able to tell them that and thank them for that in person before the end of their junior year.
What is the biggest challenge that you’ve faced during covid? How have you overcome that challenge?This talks about how I've found something good about that pandemic. This is important to me because I know a lot of people are going through a lot during the pandemic and I think we should find something to be grateful for because it will help with the trials you are going through.
what I have done with all the free time the virus gave meMy document talks about what I have done with all the free time the virus gave me
Lee Foster Oral History, 2020/08/04Oral History in which Lee Foster discusses how one teaches shop (Industrial Arts) through online learning, what it is like teaching your students at the same time as your own children, and having a spouse working in a hospital during the pandemic. He also discusses the changes, or lack thereof, in family dynamics during a pandemic all with his easy-going positivity and sense of gratitude for his situation.
Gwendolyn Way Oral History, 2020/07/29An interview with Gwendolyn "Gwen" Way regarding her experience living in a retirement home during the pandemic. Gwen discusses the changes made by the residence where she lives to prevent an introduction or spread of the virus, as outbreaks in Long Term Care facilities have been common in Canada, and how it has effected her life within the home and her relationship with the world outside it. She compares and contrasts this lockdown and pandemic with the 19 months she spend in a sanatorium being treated for tuberculosis (TB) many years ago. The fear of the unknown and desperation at the lack of a firm end date are ideas which Gwen returns to repeatedly.
Stopping to smell the flowers.... and focus on gratitudeSince mid-May, our 18yo son's friend has been living with us. D's mother is immunocompromised, and he needed to return to work when restaurants re-opened to save money for college in the fall. He moved in, adding a fourth teenager to our house. He is a wonderful guest and we have enjoyed having him. It can't be easy for him to live with a family that is not his own, but he handles it very well. Last week, these flowers arrived for me. D's dad and grandmother sent them (they live out of state) as a thank you for us hosting D these past months. I was so surprised and touched by the gesture. I know D and his family are grateful that he has a safe place to live while ensuring his family's health, and I appreciate that. While literally stopping my day to smell my flowers, I started thinking about gratitude, and the ways I will always be grateful to 2020: - My family is healthy, safe and together. - I realize that my son knows the value in surrounding himself with good people; getting to know his friend has been a blessing. - We were able to continue our school and work lives, even while isolated at home. Not all are so lucky. - As things re-open slowly, our lives are not returning to the crazy levels of busy that is our normal. Instead of school and practices and large gatherings, small groups of friends are coming over almost every day, and I love having a full house. - Our future plans are still moving forward, albeit in a different format. Online classes for my high schoolers and hybrid college classes for college kids. Working from home. We are making it all work. - While we haven't been having family crafting projects or other Instagram worthy activities, we have been able to connect often and easily. A conversation about politics; one about ethics; another about relationships. All of these happened organically because we are physically together. Also conversations about LeBron vs. Michael and ranking of the Star Wars franchise; not every conversation is deep. - Most importantly, I realize that the first half of 2020 was a gift: I got extra time with my kid, right before he leaves for college. I got extra time with my high schoolers that wasn't carved out of a crazy schedule. My husband and I spent time reading next to each other and doing puzzles. It would be crazy for me to say 2020 has been wonderful; it hasn't. It has been awful. However, even in these crazy and unsure times, there can be gratitude. And flowers. And Star Wars movies.
"True Talk in Ten""True Talk in Ten" is podcast about climbing out of 2020 with hope, gratitude, and authenticity. Judy shares interviews, stories, books, music, and mindful ways to approach the hard truths about our past, present, and future in the era of Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter. Judy Brewster is a 30 year educator and is currently an Elementary School Principal in Westchester County, NY. She is also a performing artist and community theater junkie. Give her 10 minutes, and she'll give you something to ponder in your classroom, at the office, in the green room, or around the fire pit! Stories are posted weekly.