Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Many of us have video chatted in recent weeks like never before. We’ve managed to get elderly relatives digitally literate enough to accept a zoom invitation or WhatsApp video call; some of us have met up with long-lost friends, attended video staff meetings and even experienced online church. It’s all so easy right?
When you stop to consider all the linguistic and digital skills that go into taking part in a successful Zoom meeting, not to mention the gigabytes of data and suitable hardware needed, you can begin to imagine how much support many of our Jesus Centre clients need to simply stay connected in these times of lockdown and potential isolation. In our determination to give everyone the opportunity to link up and talk, we have discovered that digital poverty is a barrier to some and so we are looking into ways of supporting them, just as we have done with travel expenses in more mobile times.
“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”-John Katz
In recent weeks, I have been helping several of my students to connect, talk and learn. It has been such a joy to see students overcome difficulties and link up, not just with me but with their classmates. I am having to exercise kindness and patience, not just towards them as they grapple with the technology, but also with myself as I learn to adapt to a vastly different kind of classroom. There are many activities that I simply cannot do online, but as I continue to learn alongside my students, the range of possibilities grows, from screen sharing my white board and PowerPoint to showing videos, facilitating conversation and playing online games…the list keeps growing with our confidence.
It may be a season of physical distancing but not of social distancing and I am determined to facilitate the precious connections that support my students’ mental health and agility as they support one another and learn.