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WhyNot EC Unfiltered: Education & Employment Part 2

Words by Members of the WhyNot Editorial Committee and friends

Illustration by AileenYou can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenetc

Virtual hurdles

To say my focus on my education has been a challenge is an understatement. 

Like the majority of students, my studies have been completely shifted online. As I studied interstate at university, I came back to Sydney since the lockdown as my whole family resides here (and nobody wants to isolate alone in Canberra). 

In terms of studying, it’s been a real hurdle because I realised (by not having the practical side of learning) how much of a hands-on learner I am. Just being able to attend labs and tutorials was something I took for granted during my overall experience at university. 

On the bright side, I have been with my family for days on end, something interstate students don’t often get on a daily basis and I’ve had room to work on my side projects with the extra time on my hands.

Jahin – University Student

Safe, stood down and the chasm in between. 

Watching close colleagues and friends be stood down, their hours reduced or their jobs disappear entirely has been a bloody roller coaster, if I’m honest. Especially once it dawned on me that if they’re not safe, then neither am I. 

I’ve spent hours on the phone talking to close friends about re-working their resume, their skills and future prospects – how I’m sure they absolutely have the agility to start a new career in a reduced and evolving job market. After a while it was hard to be sure who I was trying to convince.

I could feel it coming… and right on cue I was stood down too. This brought on serious uncertainty, the relentless tidal wave kind, as well as a different tension I didn’t anticipate. Friends of mine working for cashed-up legal firms or in public service jobs were a bit more jovial. I felt they didn’t really understand the panic, and no wonder, because they were all safe. 

The divide between those that were safe and those stood down became a chasm for a few long weeks before we all adjusted to our new normal. 

What does my future career look like? Where am I going? Where am I now? 

These have been the questions that have settled in the pit of my stomach for the last six weeks. Whilst I’ve had the time to reflect and re-organise passions and aspirations, motivation has been fleeting – here one minute and literally just gone the next. I’ve been up and down like a yo-yo. Thankfully I’ve stayed connected with those close to me facing the same uncertainty and quickly learnt this feeling is not uncommon. 

That’s the thing about getting through tough times – while you’re figuring out a plan to climb the hill again, you end up putting one foot in front of the other without consciously realising it.

Georgie – Youth Project Manager

Robbed of connection 

Hearing students laugh; seeing the self-admiration they feel when they complete a task they previously thought too tough; the warmth I get when a student shows genuine gratitude; and connecting a group of students who are “sort of friends” into a united and protective clan.

These are the reasons I love being a teacher and in the last two months, they’ve almost fully been taken away by the impacts of this global pandemic we are all living through.

It’s been tough and I’ve struggled.

Teaching via a screen is like watching a movie from behind the TV. At no stage could I tell how a student is really coping and the disconnect has really zapped my buzz.

I know students are beginning to return schools and this will be seen as ‘returning to normal’ but what will normal really be like? As an Outdoor Ed teacher there is still no timeline on a return to trips and excursions, the life changing moments I live for, but who am I to complain? I have a job, I’m financially secure at least.

I’m hopeful there is still plenty of light at the end of this super long tunnel.

Pat – Teacher

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