More Polished Lectures No Substitute for Personal Bonds

Dominic Yang

Covid-19 came out of the blue. It hit every one of us hard, each in different ways. Like most collegiate institutes across America, the University of Missouri has converted to remote teaching. I am a person who fumbles with new technology. Yet I find the conversion relatively easy on the technological side of things, thanks to our wonderful supporting staff, as well as my students, who are extremely intelligent and usually have more intimate knowledge of online programs and social media than me personally. I tip my hat to them!

 The conversion does have certain upsides. For instance, I can do recorded or live lectures wearing normal attire on top but enjoy the comfort of pajama pants and fuzzy slippers on the bottom, where the camera can’t see. For recorded lectures, I can do multiple recordings and edit things out to perfect the lessons. Also, having to watch myself in videos all the time is a motivation to do more exercise and eat healthier. Yet, despite these benefits, I miss the person-to-person interactions that only come with classroom teaching. Online meetings via Zoom are no substitute for the kind of bond and rapport that develops between teachers and students, and among the students themselves, both of which contribute greatly to the learning experience. I do miss going to classes physically.

 This semester, I teach courses on China, Japan, and Taiwan. We probably started talking about the covid-19 outbreak a lot earlier than most classes on campus save for the ones in the public health program. I told students that this virus could hit the United States, and we might be affected critically by it. But back then, none of us realized the grave challenges that we would eventually face, challenges that would put our cherished values and true mettle to the test. Compared to parts of the nation that are knee-deep in suffering, we have been extremely lucky thus far. Therefore, we need to appreciate what others are doing to keep us safe, particularly the dedicated doctors, nurses, and medical staff across the country. We need to do our part by staying home whenever possible. We need to do our best to persevere through this crisis and carry on with our lives the best we can, so this terrible pandemic doesn’t get the best of us.

 Stay safe!