Farewell 2020: Webbies carry their wishes, hopes, and dreams into 2021

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Graphic courtesy of Sunny Yu ('22).

The end of the year is a good time to reflect and make new year resolutions.

A hundred years after the 1918 influenza, another pandemic is shifting the earth’s core the coronavirus pandemic. Just a year ago, when Webbies ended the semester and traveled home safely, saying goodbye to their friends and teachers while knowing that they would soon reunite on campus, it would have been hard to imagine that they would be learning from home throughout most of the year 2020, from the end of March all the way to December. 

Indeed, 2020 has been an unprecedented year a year of life and breath. From the pandemic to the Black Lives Matter movement and protests, we are a part of an epochal rift perhaps referred to as the age of the coronavirus by future historians and scholars.  

As hard as 2020 has been, the end of the year is a good time to make changes and set personal goals for the following year. 

“I hope in 2021 everything is back to normal and everyone can meet each other,” Calvin Xu (‘21) said. “My new year’s resolution’s going to be living a healthier schedule and hang out with friends more.” 

“I love new year resolutions, but I always go for very small and discrete ones,” said Susana Linsley, Director of Experiential Learning. “I never do re-set-my-life resolutions. I try to think about one thing that I really want to tackle. My favorite one was when several years ago, my new year resolution was to learn to parallel park, and I am a great parallel parker now. Next year, I am planning on being more proactive about documenting my spending better but I see this as different from my hope and dreams for 2021.” 

Besides personal growth and achievements, many students and faculty members express their hope for a world free of COVID-19 in 2021 a year when they could finally unite with each other and Webb faculties on campus.  

“My top wish is for the pandemic to be over,” Jenny Han (‘21) said. “We’re all very ready for that to be over. It would be really great to see everyone back together on campus again, even though I understand that there are some practical impediments towards that happening.” 

Many faculty members share a similar wish for the following year, hoping to bring the best out of online education despite the many challenges and difficulties. 

“In 2021, I anticipate getting together with family, friends and students,” said Romana Quick, International Student Liaison coordinator. “I hope to travel too! Hopefully Webb will be back in person! My wish is that everyone appreciates everyone and everything at the moment they’re in. Be human kind always.” 

“I would like to continue with gardening, baking bread, cooking from scratch, but most especially spending time with my family,” said Kevin Quick, science department faculty and Alamo Dorm Head. “Being apart and in isolation has been hard for all the family. I can’t wait to be with them, camp, fish, cook, hang out in the pool. My resolution would be to continue my education and refine my style of teaching, and I hope that [the pandemic] too will past and everyone learns that learning online is only a small part of your education. The world and elders around you are your best teachers.” 

In 2020, the pandemic has posed immense challenges to not only the education system around the world but also the belief systems that many have taken for granted, including political, ideological, and social ones. 

One of things that students and educators learned this year is that remote learning was nothing easy. Staying in a confined environment also posed a huge threat on people’s mental heath. 

“Undeniably, 2020 has been an absolute train wreck in a variety of ways, not only for me, but for many people,” Nicholas Theobald (‘22) said. “As a boarding student, the anxiety of confinement to a limited area and the inability to personally contact other students, friends and faculty has taken a major toll.” 

For seniors, the experience has been especially difficult, as they could not go through the college application process with friends and Webb faculty physically by their side. 

“We said a lot of farewell this year, and things changed drastically, and we are also seeing a lot of social problems this year,” Jimmy Feng (‘21) said. Being a senior in 2020 is especially special and difficult, [and the pandemic] has changed my plan for this year entirely... I really miss the Webb community, and I’ve been dreaming a lot about the dorm life at Webb lately. It’s also hard to be motivated. Taking online classes is different, but I often remind myself that I am witnessing history… I’m just trying to live happily each day, because we never know what will happen next. 

Students are not alone in their struggle with uncertainty. Many Webb faculty members experienced parallel challenges and difficulties a common theme of 2020. The pandemic and online learning disabled many classroom routines and interactions, and it is especially true for the classes of Jim Dahler, math department faculty member. 

“I really miss being able to send the entire class to the board to work on problems. This helps me identify misconceptions and give immediate feedback to everyone in the class as they work through problems,” Mr. Dahler said. “Going quickly from person to person not only allows me to give feedback to individual students but also helps me identify strengths and weaknesses of the class as a whole. This is impossible to do online, and it makes it more difficult for me to know how prepared my students are at any point in time.” 

It is impossible for everything to immediately return to normal as soon as 2021 arrives, but hopefully members of the Webb community will slowly transition back to the life before the pandemic, where memories continue in the actual classrooms, on Chandler Field, in Fawcett Library, the Price Dining Hall, Liu Cheung Theater, or South Hutch and Ruddick, and other places on campus. 

At the same time, stepping into a new year can also mean to continue the positive sides of 2020 and taking them to a new level. 

“I hope that by the summer we’re able to have wide distribution of vaccine and allow people to resume their lives as soon as possible,” Dr. Linsley said. “As a nation and as a world, I hope that we are able to care for those people who have been harmed physically, economically, and emotionally by this crisis. I hope that there are things that we don’t lose, like fewer commitments, more time with family, and things going slower. I hope that the momentum for social justice and Black Lives stays with us, and we’re able to not just return to normal but use it as a time for adjustments. A lot of time it seems that our mental models don’t work anymore, and there’s going to have to be a logical shift in the way we think about what government does, what our relationships are, and what power is.” 

With so much uncertainty in the world, it is impossible to imagine and even prophesize what 2021 will look like. Nevertheless, using the change of the calendar as a mark, members of the community will be able to leave 2020 behind and strive towards the new year with hope, determination, and optimism.