If this was any other year, I should have been in school, and over 10,000 km apart from my family. No one could have predicted that now, I would be studying back at home, attempting to emulate a coherent school experience through the use of two relatively simple assets: a computer and an app called Microsoft Teams.
Before COVID-19, online school was nothing more than a myth; now, it is the reality for students all over the world. At the beginning, there was controversy and speculation that it might not be manageable, that the internet and its platforms could not support the full schooling experience - but that has been proven wrong. What that will say for the future is unknown, but it is life-changing for many students around the world, who can now go back to learning via recorded lessons, and texting their teachers if they do not understand topics. Online learning also makes it much easier to access and keep track of archived notes and new assignments. It has certainly saved a lot of time and effort for me. Despite my positive experiences with intense technology-assisted learning, I can't help but wonder about the gaps and disadvantages that some of my contemporaries must have experienced if they lack access to devices, internet connection or a responsible educational support platform. On the flip side, however, staying in touch with others is a great way to combat the struggles COVID-19 presents. Technology provides us with not just a complete set of resources necessary for education, but also a brilliant way to contact loved ones, friends and family alike, and even reconnect with old friends and acquaintances. Now, more than ever, is the most opportune time to put this to good use.
As someone who is able to offer a perspective on the situation in both Hong Kong and the UK, it is evident that the pandemic is being treated very differently in the two places. At the onset of the outbreak, the pandemic was treated with a far graver concern in Hong Kong than in the UK. The greatest strength Hong Kong has, is its unity in the community. With everyone donning masks, it has allowed us to recover as quickly as we have. This is not the case in the UK, where some are unwilling to consider others and venture out without any personal protection.
Another serious issue that has developed out of the pandemic is the growing amount of racism in various parts of the world. Now, part of COVID-19 includes hearing insults thrown across the empty streets at anyone who looks even vaguely Chinese, or reading newspapers bearing glaring headlines such as "THE WUHAN VIRUS STRIKES AGAIN, KILLING THOUSANDS or WHAT IS THE CHINESE VIRUS? EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW". The casual racism that has been experienced by millions of Asians because of this virus has caused a major uproar, both in real life and on social media, and allowed for toxic mindsets to take root in the wilfully ignorant. There are Asian students in the UK who have unfortunately been subject to the same amount of name-calling, or even physical attacks. This serves as a gruelling reminder that all it takes is a situation like COVID-19, to act as a wick for the ignorant to lay blame on the innocent. This makes the situation seem hopeless and frightening, and it is easy to feel defenceless. However, the most important fact to remember is that none of us are alone in these experiences, and COVID-19 has proved that we must put aside our prejudices and work together to stay strong in the face of adversities.
Attached is a picture taken as I was going home from the airport. Along the way, we stopped by my grandma's place to greet her before I went into 14 days of home-quarantine. Needless to say, both of us were very happy to see each other again (especially after having been stuck in the UK for months, deemed unable to return home due to the mounting dangers of COVID-19 in Hong Kong at the time). We relished the short time we spent together---the glass window separating the two of us did not diminish the joy we felt at seeing each other, safe and happy.