The recent pandemic (Covid-19) has impacted education systems in universities around the world. The impact has been dramatic for institutions, academics, and students looking for workable short term solutions for online teaching and learning. The unique challenge facing higher education encouraged DEN to look for opportunities to stay in contact with students using online facilities. Through the academic initiative, we invited students to meet and organise feasible and appropriate projects at this time. Using Inside Westminster we have agreed that students will write an article and or provide a 5 minutes video of their reflection and experience of Covid-19. We have encouraged students from all over the world to express their stories and share them with each other, hoping that this would provide a channel not only to learn but also to engage with each other. Hence, the following articles in this section are students’ reflections/experiences of Covid-19.
I was drafting my dissertation as the initial government measures were announced. The rumour of a lockdown made its round at the time. Quickly I scrambled to the library and took out as many books as I possibly could for fear that I may not have the necessary resources to complete my assessments. However, the initial panic and hoarding quickly subsided and was replaced by a monotony of boredom. We were all stuck indoors with nothing much to do fortunately I had coursework to finish. From the inside of my room, the pandemic and the lockdown went by with increasing measures, one thing led to another and suddenly there are worldwide demonstrations, the year seems to be turning into the most interesting in my lifetime. The pandemic and the associating Lockdown was for me a slight blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to focus on things I otherwise could not have, finishing my dissertation within the timeframe I did, as well as read books that I have been meaning to read. This ‘Interesting year’ seemed to stay interesting for everyone but myself. However, the did not just that it give me time to focus on my studies. It also revealed to us who the people are that we can rely on and trust, from anti-maskers to activists it gave us an opportunity of reflection, who we wanted to keep in our lives and what needed to be changed, from governments to policies, changes are going to have to be made, and this pandemic served as a wake-up call.
As I was in London I was able to attend a few of the Black Lives Matter marches, it was not just a method to break the monotony of the lockdown, but also because I believed in the cause and that for once I could go out and try and make a difference. As an avid photographer, I would also be able to document something other than my houseplants. The demonstrations were nothing like I expected. Even though people were in the hundred, the majority of people I saw still adhered to wearing a mask, which showed that the ones who were socially aware enough to protest for this issue were also aware of the health issues and tried to meet the restrictions as much as possible. Furthermore, the anger one could see in the people about this issue was mind-opening, years of repression came out during these marches. Although I believe that if it weren’t for the pandemic and people being forced to remain indoors these large scale demonstrations could not have happened, without the free time to think and be made aware of the injustices these protests would not have garnered the traction they did.
Halfway through the year, I had to move back to Switzerland, which approached the pandemic slightly differently, they managed to get the spread under control much faster, in part due to the complete mobilisation of the Swiss Army. However, this positive news did not last long as many believed the pandemic to be over and started to gather in large swarms again and to enter public places without a mask, this disappointed me greatly as I had always been under the impression that Switzerland and its people behaved more reasonable and would follow rules and regulations, although this misconception was quickly corrected. Having spent the pandemic in two different nations, it was quite obvious that the people and their behaviours were the same all over, a great part of the population seems to be completely out of sympathy to the other part of the population and unless it was happening to them they did not seem to care that they may be harming others. This behaviour was already evident with the anti-vaccine movement (or pro-pandemic as I like to call them), but the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how many of these people surround us and how many people need to be educated in basic medical knowledge. All in all, maybe the world needed a wake-up call, maybe this was all for the best, as long as we learn from it and enact change, if we simply go back to business as usual then all those people would have died in vain.
By: Steve Fröhlich, BA (Hons) Politcs and Histoy (2017-2020)