The age of COVID-19 has certainly created new norms and inflicted difficult alternatives and changes as well. As someone who has always loved being in the classroom in person (I absolutely dreaded online course during my undergraduate studies), this change has been particularly difficult for me as I begin my MSW generalist year at The University of Hawaii at Manoa. It also poses an incredible dichotomy for the students during these unprecedented times as well. I knew I was committed to the task of obtaining my Master’s degree in social work, and I feel incredibly compelled to pursue my educational requirements while I still feel comfortable in a collegiate setting in order to ensure I feel most confident about my abilities. For me, these times are certainly not ideal to my learning process by any means, but I could have never justified not pursuing my education as it is something I feel fully committed to. After all, COVID-19 cannot last forever, and postponing my educational requirements would only hold me back in the long run. Fortunately, all of my instructors this semester have been incredibly accommodating and understanding to the unconventional learning style the virus has directly caused, which does alleviate a sizable amount of stress and discomfort about potential effects the virus may have on our performance as students.
I never would have guessed that my first semester of graduate school would including a two-week quarantine, stay at home orders, and virtually no in person human interactions. It has been challenging socially to branch out and meet cohorts of my program outside of our weekly Zoom class meetings. Although the virus has caused inconveniences, it is certainly more important to prioritize the safety and well-being of the people in the community as a whole instead of trying to accommodate the needs and wishes of college students during this trying time. Nevertheless, I am still nervous and anxious about the futuristic outlook of the pandemic, and whether or not it influences my ability to perform in school and at my practicum to the best of my abilities.
Furthermore, beginning my field practicum during the days of COVID-19 has also been an interesting change from the norm as well. This semester offered both entirely virtual and some hybrid options to students in order to fulfill the generalist requirements for field practicum. I am particularly interested in the extra measures and precautions we must take in the hybrid model to ensure both the safety of the client is prioritized and still maintain the notion that the methods and modalities utilized remain beneficial and therapeutic as well. As an extrovert, I look forward to face to face contact with clients and coworkers to perform at my highest level, and only having some hybrid style contact is an unfortunate drawback for me as well. Moreover, the importance of the practices and work we do is still critical to the functioning and well-being of our clients, so it is imperative we adapt and continue our work.
Although it is easy to focus on how these changes to conventional collegiate strategies and practices may negatively impact one’s experience, it is also important to reflect on the possible benefits of the situation as well. Perhaps more so than other lessons, the true test of resiliency will surely present itself through the entirety of the pandemic. The capability of communities to rally together and create alternative norms to ensure the safety and health of others in the community will also hopefully act as a bonding agent through one of the most divisive times historically. As social workers we must adapt and adhere to presenting problems constantly, and COVID-19 is no exception to that. I suppose the pandemic is a perfect preceptor to determine our abilities to adapt and show resilience in a less than fortunate time worldwide.
By: Karyn Kovalick
2020 Spring Semester blog posts are written by Jennifer Nacapuy. 2018-2019 Academic Year blog posts are written by Sruthi Vijayakumar & Cynthia Macey. 2017-2018 blog posts were written by Holly Arroyo & Jenalyn Camagong