Face to face

VERBAL VARIETY - Annie Fe Perez (The Freeman) - May 29, 2021 - 12:00am

On an online activity with my students, they were explaining their favorite gesture as we were discussing non-verbal communication. After explaining, they would do a sample in front of their camera. In real life, we would have burst in laughter from the ridiculous poses that they were making but today we were limited to what we saw on our screens. One student typed in the chatbox, "I wish this were face to face."

I was the same way too, believe me. Although working from home gives me the flexibility to bring my class to wherever I want to, I kind of miss the usual student interaction. I miss the familiar smell of the decades-old building of our university and the sounds that the animals in the periphery made, especially in this season. The interaction in face-to-face learning is real time: we laugh, get confused, and cry together with my class whenever the situation demands it. The campus would be full of life as students busy themselves with other activities apart from academics. It would just full of life.

Today, the UP Cebu campus is a mere ghost town with only a few faculty members going in and out to continue their work. The staff scurry in their usual grind but minus the vigor when students were around. The Commission on Higher Educated manifested that remote learning will be here to stay for good. The challenge now is for educators to make their courses flexible both for offline and online delivery. While it is a step above the traditional way in which we are delivering classes, nothing beats the old ways.

I am scheduled to get vaccinated sometime soon but that wouldn't guarantee me a normal life either. While Cebu Province and the city are doing their best to make everyone's life the way it was before despite the virus, cases are just shooting up in other areas. We roll into another year still going around COVID. I guess we did not beat this pandemic the way we imagined it.

Some of the Communication students that I am handling will also be going into their internship program, on a work-from-home assignment. How is immersing in the real world even possible doing it from home? It will be a different kind of experience, one that is rather odd. There are no mentor-mentee moments, no fellow students to have lunch with and the output will just drain them of their remaining energy.

Despite all this, I am hopeful. It sounds cliché but I'm giving the vaccination plan a shot that it could speed things up. I am confident that both teachers and students will find ways to meet halfway despite limitations. Face to face may seem far away for now or might become a thing of the past but who knows? This pandemic might even spice things up a bit for more creative ideas to come out. I'm betting on it.

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