When classes moved online in the mid of the Semester around March 23, I faced them with a sense of “powering through.” When the summer program moved online, I thought, “It’s only two months.” I didn’t take too seriously my classmates’ concerns that the Fall Semester might also be online. Fast forward a few months and both the following Fall and Spring Semester were announced to be taking an online format. I had to finally accept that that this is how studying is going to be for now. I was thankful that my studies were not put on hold, but also pretty worried. Would I sustain my attention through a screen? How could I possibly take my first Nepali lesson online? How would I raise my hand (kudos to Teams for adding that function)? Not only when I had a question, but what if I just wanted to make a comment?
A month into the Fall Semester, I was happy to say that online learning was actually kind of great. With classes being recorded, I could revisit any lesson that I wanted. I have met the most interesting classmates from around the world. Their varied backgrounds inspired unique and interesting points of view. Most importantly, there was a strong feeling that everyone—students, teachers and the RYI staff—was trying to make the best out of this situation. The teachers went out of their way to sustain the high level of interaction that we’re used to in a live class. I found that I do raise my (virtual) hand both to ask questions and to make comments. As for the language courses, during the fall semester while taking Beginning Nepali and during the Summer Program taking Intermediate Colloquial Tibetan, I found that that having pre-recorded grammar explanations preceding the live master class was perhaps an even more efficient way to learn a language.
This global pandemic has been very hard on all of us, devastating for some, but the huge efforts made by RYI to make online learning a fun and engaging experience for their students has been a source of great comfort for me. RYI continues to be a home away from home, even virtually.
~ Lucia Videla