In this blog, Programmes Manager Rachel Sears reflects on week one of running an Education Programme during the first week of New Zealand's COVID-19 level 4 lockdown.
A week ago, I was sitting in a meeting making the call that it was no longer safe to run onsite classes at The Court Theatre. An hour later, it was announced that the entire country would be going into level 4 lockdown within 48 hours. Two days of moving furniture and computers, learning how to connect to our server from home and brainstorming different ways to stay connected and keep creative with our students followed.
We have learnt so much in a week, including Riley (my right-hand woman and our Head Tutor/Education Co-ordinator) and I slowly getting our heads around iMovie and Zoom! Mostly though, we have been blown away at the resilience and commitment from our community not only to stay creative, but also to stay connected. We are officially over a week in and have already managed to connect classes on Zoom and support our participants to keep creating and learning at home. This isn’t due to us being incredible at using technology - it’s because our students value the work and the community they have made together, so much so that they’re joining together in learning how to use these tools.
This is a difficult time and I myself had a little personal crisis earlier in the week. Hailing from a family of nurses, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough to support the world at this time, when my partner reminded me of a quote he had heard...
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” - Philip Pullman
The response from our little education community has shown me how important the act of telling and creating stories really is for us as humans. We find ourselves in the middle of a global crisis and the recording and sharing of our stories now is more important than ever. We need to be able to tell people of the future what this was like for those of us who lived through it;we need to remember how important family, neighbourhood and community was to us at this time of crisis; and we need to keep each other going through these strange times with stories, laughter and togetherness.
I feel equally overwhelmed and inspired by the task ahead of us in taking our programmes into a digital space. Luckily, I’ve got the support of incredible colleagues and, most importantly, invested participants and learners who will make it work with me – because they need it as much as we do.
See you at the theatre sometime soon, we hope! Until then, let’s meet online. Learn more about our online opportunities and get involved here.