Thursday, March 11 marked exactly one year since the UN declared a pandemic. It was a monumental moment not one of us could escape.
Anniversaries can be a good time for reflection.
In this spirit, on Tuesday, March 16, the Algonquin Times asked students at the Woodroffe campus what the pandemic has taught them.
Here is what they had to say.
Name: Michelle MacGillivray
Program: horticultural technician program, second year
Where she was when she learned about the pandemic: “Me and my classmates left our class on Friday afternoon, and I got a phone call from my sister who’s an elementary school teacher up in North Bay. She said ‘oh, the schools are closing ’cause of this COVID thing.’ Then we heard that everything was shutting down and the rest of our program was going to have to get figured out online.”
What she learned this past year: “How important in-person relationships are and how much you miss it and interacting with people. My roommate happened to move out right at the beginning of COVID so I had a three-bedroom that I lived in by myself for six months. So, I’m lucky in the industry I’m in, construction, I was allowed to get back to work faster, so I didn’t feel the full effects the way some of my friends have.
“A lot of people are making an effort to connect in different ways.”
Name: Kerry Meyer
Program: occupational therapy assistant and physiotherapy assistant program, first year
Where she was when she learned about the pandemic: “I was working at Goodlife Fitness as a personal trainer and I remember, just before Christmas, clients were starting to disappear saying they had this awful flu. I have to admit, I’m not really a germaphobe so I just thought it’s just another flu and everyone will be fine. But when they actually shut down the gym and they started to shut down everything, obviously it became apparent that something serious was going on. That’s affected me in many different ways.
“It was a message like, ‘just go Kerry, there is something better for you.’”
What she learned this past year: “This is going to sound morbid. So, awful things have come with this illness – it’s very much disrupted peoples’ lives and they’ve lost loved ones or their job. But on the flip side, if you can find anything positive, it’s just really shown us how important people are and how we kind of forget to make that balance between work and home life.
“It’s really brought to light how important our health is – physical, mental, emotional and then how important people in our lives are. So, I think that’s what has really hit me the most in this whole ordeal.
“A wake-up call as to how important we are as individuals and our families and to step back and take care of ourselves.”
Name: Reed King
Program: electrical engineering technician, first year
Where he was when he learned about the pandemic: “I’m not too sure. I remember taking March break off and in the middle of it that’s when we had that extra two weeks. Me and my friends were all excited about that. It’s a lot longer than two weeks. But yeah, I was just doing a co-op at my school in Manicouagan so that’s the last thing I remember doing.
“I think I heard about it, but I just wasn’t too worried about it.”
What he learned this past year: “I learned that I can’t take my time for granted. I’ve been wishing I can go and do all of these things that I could have done earlier but I never did. But now that I can’t do it, I want to do it even more. Like going downtown – that’s a main reason I came here. Ottawa is a beautiful city. Even watching movies. I love going to the theatre and that’s been closed for a while now.”
Name: Xu Leng
Program: computer programming, fourth year
Where he was when he learned about the pandemic: “I was starting my work placement in April. I came from China and I heard from my parents and my brother and they did very good in China. They just put on a mask and actually are not worried. It’s normal. Actually, I just do what I should do just stay at home and when I go out put on a mask. It’s normal.”
What he learned this past year: “When I stayed at home I learned piano, guitar and writing calligraphy. So, I just did what was interesting, my hobbies. Actually, I had time to do it and study. Computer programming is very hard.”
Name: Wipada Panphum
Program: esthetician program, first year
Where she was when she learned about the pandemic: “I was pretty shocked about it. I was in high school and it was kind of stressful because a lot of things got taken away because of COVID. So, we didn’t get prom or field trips and we didn’t have a proper graduation either. So it kind of sucks, but it is what it is.”
What she learned this past year: “How to adapt to things differently and how to have connections to others in different ways. Now we can’t really see each other, so we have to contact each other online.”