By Alison Lee
In January, we were so pleased that 2020 was mapped out, with breakfasts, outreach and travel plans all ready to execute. Then, suddenly, we found ourselves in lockdown, with larger fundraising goals owing to the global economic meltdown and no way of realising our carefully prepared plans.
Whilst the GWC emergency COVID team and faculty turned their minds to teaching and daily operations, the Principal’s Office had to make adjustments and turn our minds to online events. For all of us, it was a steep learning curve into the world of Zoom. How do we get to know people without tea and coffee and dinner and the usual social norms? This turn of events called to my mind the new opportunities that opened up with the arrival of Google Earth. I remember asking our daughters to write down some places they would like to see. In the next hour we went to Pompei, London and Paris and “walked” the streets of far-away places and visited famous historical sites and buildings. The world opened up before us, all from our living room. In March 2020, we needed to embrace the global opportunity available online and focus on what we could gain, and not on what we had lost.
2020 has opened new doors, including holding events that we would previously never have thought we could do online. During the lockdown, it has been a great blessing to meet with partners, churches, donors, Trusts and Foundations and to share the news and needs of GWC. One of the great benefits of such events has been bringing people together from different countries in one event, at a minimal cost. The online Open Day also presented new opportunities. The online campus tour we have talked of for two years was produced within two weeks and we were able to meet visiting students from across South Africa, Africa and overseas.
I have wondered at times, could we have done this before? But I am not sure it would have been possible. With everyone working from home it is undoubtedly easier to co-ordinate many busy schedules into one online platform.
Yet, despite all these positive impacts of lockdown, on a Friday morning when my diary says ‘Friday tea at ten’ I realise how much I miss fellowship with colleagues, students and visitors; seeing real people in real places. Watching the news every evening, we are reminded of the realities of the pandemic that have given rise to this working bubble. 2021 will require further flexibility and creativity from all of us as we blend the old and the new, and adapt to unique circumstances. Thankfully, God has made us creative and adaptable, and together we can meet this challenge by staying open to the possibilities of creating another “new normal”.