Corona, College, and Creativity

When I first heard about the virus back in Jan-Feb, like most people, I assumed the world economy and manufacturing, already suffering because of the US-China spat, will probably take a hit because China will be inaccessible but I figured most people in other parts of the world will be alright. I was thinking of how in India, small businesses that had only just begun to recover from demonetization and GST will once again have to suffer as their manufacturing and supply stops. Hey, maybe this could be an opportunity for that Make in India endeavor?

And then, it hit. It hit everywhere. I read this great analogy in some tweet where this guy described Covid 19 as glitter. Did you touch it for two seconds with your hand? It’s now on your face. Two days later it’s hanging around on your bag. By March, it has reached everywhere except Antarctica.

Overnight, we had to restructure classes, curriculums, expectations, lifestyles, and budgets. With the state most of our finances are in, forget making art, it’s become hard to make ends meet. What I thought would affect small businesses has created an unemployment crisis in Wales because Airbus alone has cut production. That’s just one organization.

For us, the new format of classes meant nonstop texts from students, well into midnight and beyond. I completed one piece of artwork I had started when the pandemic was still looking like a picnic and then my inspiration and motivation dried up. I was irritable, sleepless, tired, overworked and somehow bored at the same time. I could not imagine how I would teach in such a state. A more depressing thought was that some of my students were probably going through worse. They’re locked down at home, don’t know what to expect from the future, they’re away from their friends and they are old enough to understand their families’ financial struggles but too young to do anything about it. They were doing group projects before they left for home. Was I supposed to ask them for submissions now?

Incredibly enough, that’s where things took a turn for the better. After a week’s break in courses, while we restructured the curriculum, my students were more motivated than ever!

They want more assignments, they want online classes (attendance is at an all-time high), they want to use this time to learn and not to mope around the house obsessing over the economy. Now that we’ve resumed classes, the messages that flood my WhatsApp are hard to juggle but the passion and motivation behind them are awe-inspiring. My students in different parts of India are collaborating on personal projects while simultaneously doing their assignments and learning new software. My initial thoughts of the economy, my social life and lack of inspiration have now fled as I guide them in their endeavors. They are doing incredible work which has kickstarted my motivation. Whatever comes, will come. Life is for living, and every day we don’t seize is a day lost that will never come back. My students certainly seem to think so and I’m learning from them.

I think I speak for all the faculty in the department when I say that we are all so inspired by the motivation our students are showing. Even the ones that are less vocal and are perhaps unable to find their spark of creativity right now. You’re trying and that’s enough. We’ll keep trying together because learning shouldn’t stop but if you’re not feeling as motivated as your friends, it’s ok. Neither am I. You don’t have to create to be brilliant, you just have to be happy.

Nayna Yadav, Assistant Professor, School of Communication Design, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.

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