Wednesday, November 24th, 2021
In early March 2020 there was a freight train thundering down the track towards us and no one knew, or could have known, how it would impact every person on the planet. Look at where we are now. COVID is still here, challenges remain, but we’ve coped and evolved to meet those challenges and adopted new ways of working and living.
Resilience is defined as the ability to recover from setbacks and keep going in the face of adversity. We have surpassed the definition in our secondary school partnerships, seeing schools and businesses operate on similar levels of knowledge and efficiency in the virtual world with new communication tools.
In the early days of the pandemic, schools were closed, and business volunteers were all working from home. Teachers adapted and got to grips with the intricacies of MS Teams, Google Classroom, breakout rooms, share drives, and a host of other online platforms and tools to keep students engaged and learning. Students responded to the challenge, our programmes switched online and developed, ideas and techniques were incorporated as we grew together in a new age of online communication.
For students, the World of Work and Mentoring programmes continued to provide the connection with the working world, and they are now connecting via the same technologies and learning essential workplace skills.
‘The wrap up session was great’ said one student from Coláiste an Chraoibhín in Fermoy ‘we got to present to people, other than our classmates, and to do it online which is a good skill to have’.
Every student in the class delivered a short presentation online to their Laya Healthcare volunteers – following the example of the volunteers a few weeks earlier.
Volunteers cited a feel-good factor and a chance to do something different as a key benefit of participating. This year the connection was valued more than ever with so many business volunteers working from home, missing colleagues, and the buzz of an office environment. The sessions with students gave volunteers meaningful connection. A ‘Day in the Life’ volunteer from IBM even connected with their student group from a quarantine hotel room. It helped put the days into perspective for her and it was a revelation to the students how people can now work anywhere if needed.
The last twenty-two months have been difficult, but we are resilient. We’ve bounced back and fast forwarded into our collective future. No one knows what challenges are around the next corner, but we do know now that we can meet them head on by continuing to support each other.
By Celine McGrath, Regional Coordinator, Cork
For more information on how to get involved with our programmes, click here.