Remaining Optimistic and Hopeful

Story collected by Will McGuirk, website: slowcity.ca

Birdwatching became a pastime for Dean of Trent University Durham GTA, Scott Henderson, who had only just been hired to watch over the expansion of the university at its location on the Oshawa/ Whitby border.

“As the head of a university campus, it is always a busy job, with a lot of unexpected elements. COVID has added an entire other layer of public health regulations, pivoting to online teaching, dealing with new issues around tech, around social interaction, Zoom etiquette etc. Overall it has been relentless as there are constant adaptations to the way in which we work, and that adds an entire other layer on top of things,” he says.

“It also means that the enjoyable social aspects that help make the working day tolerable have disappeared. It is strange to be constantly busy but to almost never see the results of your work as they are happening somewhere else in the online world.”

“It has meant seeing less of my kids, and barely seeing my two-year-old grandson throughout the pandemic. Also made visiting my 88 year old mother very difficult for long periods. We did not want to risk spreading anything to vulnerable populations.”

“I focused a lot more on my garden, particularly feeding and watching birds. There has likely been too much drink and television over the course of the pandemic, but also a lot more outdoor time. Working from home meant the ability to take small breaks; to tend the garden, to walk the dog, to chat with neighbours. It has not been all bad and has returned a lot of attention back to the local and to the small pleasures.”

“I’m feeling incredibly burned out, but somehow remain optimistic and hopeful. We have seen a lot of the bad side of people over the course of the pandemic, but frankly that is a noisy, bothersome minority. Mainly we have seen people being good, coming together, appreciating their community and being resilient. That’s not such a bad thing!”

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