Westmont Students Living and Learning Remotely

John Kiser, Staff Writer

As nations across the world experience varying degrees of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Westmont administration has set in place remote learning for the remainder of the 2020 spring semester. Previously held in-class discussions take the form of Zoom video chats, PowerPoint presentations, and recorded lectures on Canvas. Necessary precautions for the hopeful slowinging of this sweeping virus have sent most of the student body back to their homes. 

Nevertheless, Westmont students are responding in an unsurprisingly positive manner for the large portion of the semester that has ended abruptly for in-class learning. Half of the students know exactly what leaving with uncertainty is like, from the fires, floods and mudslides of 2018 to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. Through this time of virtual engagement, which makes it much easier to feel unstructured, students are pushed to be more purpose-driven in daily life. 

Westmont third-year Thaddeus Stefan Kowalik Jr. says, “The biggest adjustments for class scheduling for me and I think a lot of people is the combination of the time change (I’m an hour ahead in Colorado …) as well as the lack of having to do anything other than school.” He adds that, “Now is the time to intentionally engage in friendship and fellowship that shines through this darkness and hardship.” 

Getting into a different routine can be tough, but good things come in times of uncertainty and change, in times of pauses such as this. Sophomore Will Wright says that, “I get to be surrounded by my family, I spend a lot more time with my sister and that’s been nice, she’s going to graduate this year.” Wright continues, “this lets me feel like I’m a kid again, I get to hang out with my parents, spending time going out and eating dinner with them.”  

Living life takes on new forms as does the Christian liberal arts education. Having a completely new structure to do activities with, while maintaining health and sanity brings new opportunities to understand yourself. Third-year Shae Caragher remarks that, “I realized how much time I have to do some things that I was really missing like writing and running (in social distance of course!)” Taking good care of yourself allows you to be in a position to look after and care for others better, and continue to be motivated to learn. “Many of my professors have been amazing in working with us while adjusting and giving us time to process and cope, which has been a huge blessing,” Caragher adds. 

Being calm and strong in the wake of unrest shows the resilient nature of Jesus that we can put hope in. Though the spread of pandemonium accompanies the spread of this virus, assured people are able to carry on their lives, modified as they are now. Since school has changed for the time being, so can our attitudes of our work ethic, to be more focused in light of less structure. Will Wright says that, “learning, in a lot of ways, is easier because it is on your own, you can access lectures whenever for the most part, tests are open book, but it is also challenging to learn in this way.” 

It is important to look for light at the end of the tunnel, and to have hope now and for the future. Third-year Megan Whitney says, “the most positive thing that has happened has definitely been the newfound connectivity of the world. It’s opened the doors for more conversations, even though those conversations are happening through a screen.” She continues, “My encouragement would be to take this time to pour in to whatever lies ahead with full force.” To take this time off the usual high-pressure Westmont arena, and to practice healthy habits, students and faculty can become closer with family, more purposefully oriented in academics, and draw nearer in hope in Christ.