by Viel Bautista
Our classes for San Carlos Seminary began last August 24, 2020. It was also the Feast of the apostle Bartholomew.
I will not forget the first words or the introductory words of our Biblical Synthesis Professor, Rev. Fr. Rolando Garcia, Jr. upon beginning his class. He mentioned the Gospel for the Feast of St. Bartholomew:
“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
He told us via Zoom, “Can anything good come from you, online class students?”
The seminary is not exempt from the reality of online classes, or the so-called distance learning. Professors give asynchronous modules, readings, and homework for us to dwell into. Some classes are done synchronously via Zoom though some in-house professors still hold face-to-face classes.
We are not exempt from the stress and pangs of this kind of learning. Headaches are felt. Many now suffer from eye disturbances, not used to sitting for hours in front of a computer. Personally, after a day of online classes, as I stood up from my chair, I almost fell! Thanks to my Guardian Angels for catching me!
But going back to Fr. Rolly’s challenge to the class, “Can anything good come from online class students?”
With much faith and conviction, it is a YES for me!
Let me site at least three important elements why there will be something good that can come from us, distance learning students.
Sense of Responsibility
First, this is a test and answer of responsibility. I know that some universities, colleges or seminaries would plot their synchronous classes either M-W-F or T-TH-S, with asynchronous activities that would deepen the lessons of the past day and would hopefully prepare for the next chunk of lessons for the next. But in the absence of the instructors comes the test and answer for responsibility.
“Ma’am is not here in the house, so I can just do it later or just forgo it.” Some would have these words. But I think it is high time we rekindle the value of responsibility and embrace responsibility.
Sense of Trust
Another is this developing a sense of trust.
In normal classroom situations, teachers can easily conduct diagnosis for lessons and see who got what right or who cheated. In distance learning, teachers have to double their efforts to think of modules or activities that would hopefully compliment quizzes or written activities.
Let us think of this moment as an opportunity to rebuild trust from both ends. We trust our instructors that this will make us grow while our teachers learn to trust us to do more and give our efforts as capable students, ready to give and be generous in whatsoever means we can.
Sense of Neighbor
While we are engrossed with our classes, we are hopefully more "in-depth" with the realities around. While “normal” times gave students the leisure to spend weekends or weekdays with friends, the “lockdown” has given us ample time to reflect and stand up for what is just and right such as the wish that everyone, even the less-fortunate, could still attend classes. Sana all matuto. Sana all makapagaral.
We feel sad for those who cannot make it to school this year. I’m touched with students who extend the effort to teach former classmates or review classmates who could otherwise not make it for this school year. So there is something good that can come from us!
Let us behold the lessons that we carry on as we face the realities of distance learning: our growth in responsibility and the trust given us; that we can be heroes and good neighbors to our classmates, to those who cannot make it for classes.
Though we hope that this would all be temporary, let us take this time to venture deeper into a sense of generosity and a sense of responsibility.
There is something good that can come from Nazareth. And in spite of the pandemic, there is something good that can come from you!
Bro. Viel Bautista is a seminarian at the San Carlos Seminary.