7/11 – That’s how I am going to remember this school year. My boys just moved to Year 7 and Year 11 in August 2019. We came back from our summer holidays in hometown Mumbai all rested and relaxed and ready to start the school year – a very important one, as my younger son was just embarking on his new secondary school life and the older one was starting his GCSE year. New uniforms, polished new shoes, armed with confidence and excitement, they were ready to take-off!
Everything was good, they settled in well and soon it was time for their school camp – Horizons Week. Kids look forward to this annual event which offers them a week-off campus where they usually get to choose their activity/destination. This year my older one chose Yangshuo, China for thrilling adventure activities and my younger one being in the youngest year in school were to go on camp locally. I was looking forward to this week with added interest as for the very first time both boys had the same camp week so that meant I could get some quiet time with my hubby. However that was not meant to be. While my older one left for China a day before the actual camp week started, protests in HK escalated and the school decided to cancel the camp for safety reasons. That meant that the younger one was back home with us. All plans came to a stand-still and this was the beginning.
2020 seemed to carry hope as I managed to successfully organise my business workshops in mid-January (which were cancelled in end-November). But by the time we reached Chinese New Year week, a new situation was building up – COVID-19. First schools were shut down and then all business came to a stand still, as we waited and watched. A week of uncertainty prevailed before schools announced that they were going to do online teaching. “Home Learning” was a brand new concept and something that caught on quickly. I had a new-found respect for my boys sitting in India and for all those kids who were managing so well without any of their books or resources. ‘Zoom’ became the ‘in-thing’ and I used that time back home to re-work on my business strategy and exploring new avenues. We flew back to Hong Kong just in time before the virus took over the world and the ‘social distancing’ got extended to strict ‘lock-downs.’ Kids were getting better at the whole ‘home-learning’ concept, digital marketing boomed and online learning prospered in all walks of life.
Finally during mid-May we saw some light at the end of the tunnel as the number of infected local cases went down and restrictions were lifted. My younger one went back to a ‘real school’ after 4 months at home, and while IGCSEs were cancelled – a big thrill and disappointment in itself, my older boy continued home learning. Hardly a month later, it was end-of-school-year ….. just like that! Usually this time of year involves me running around like a crazy chicken buying gifts for my family back home, finishing errands, spring cleaning the house as I ‘pack it up’ for the long holiday to come, last minute coffee catch-ups with mums, leaving drinks for friends leaving HK, summer shopping, summer sales and so much more! This time it was just a blink and…….. over.
An eventful year I would say, with so many challenges, a testing time for the human mind, body and spirit, irrespective of age or gender. As humans, we are always very happy in our comfort zone, but when pushed to the edge, after the initial fear and frustration, it paves a way for new thinking, innovation and learning or rather ‘re-learning’. Cheers to our children who have successfully passed out of 2019-20 school year. Cheers to us all who have embraced the new reality!