S2STEM Reflects on COVID-19

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Finding a New Normal in Quarantine

Life changed quickly when a deadly disease took over the entire world. One day, we were teaching classes and making lesson plans, and the next, we were trying to make plans for online classes and wondering when we could go back to normal. Time has passed, and a new norm has set in. How have  S2STEM team members dealt with the change? We asked them… 

Here Is What The Team Members Had To Say:

“The quarantine has been a blessing in many ways for me personally. It has made me realize the priorities in life. I am so thankful for my family and the quality time I get to spend with my kid and husband. Sometimes we keep doing things in life, getting caught up in the cycle. The quarantine has made me stop and look at what matters more in life. I am thankful for the wonderful S2STEM team that let us work from home whenever possible, and the support from my co-workers that made things easier. My daily exercise routine has kept me sane in these chaotic times. Hopefully when we come out of this crisis a much better and compassionate person than we were.”

“I am a person of routines. I like it when I know what days are going to be like. I love to follow a routine. So, come March 16, 2020 and boom!!! There goes my routing. The COVID-19 virus really took me off guard. It was hard to believe- I am in a situation I cannot tackle and the entire world is in the same place as me. Stuck at home, checking social media, and all updates on COVID-19 was what the day looked like initially. After 3 months of being there, I can say one thing- I understand that things happen for which we may not be directly responsible, but we learn to accept and adapt. It is amazing how we acclimatize to the new- whether it was working from home or conducting classes online via Zoom, things fall in place eventually. Of all things, I have missed being surrounded by my students the most, and shopping for clothes. I am confident that this shall pass too.”

“As we slowly creep back to life as we all knew it before the face masks and gloves, I’d like to reminisce about my time during the quarantine. The first day of quarantine was also my first day at S2STEM. I remember meeting Saleem at the center and practicing social distancing for the first time. We had orientation 6 feet away from each other, but this was before wearing masks was something we had to consider. During the middle of quarantine, I moved into a new home in Philadelphia. We were limited to just our realtor, wore face masks, and signed the paperwork in the middle of a parking lot. Most public areas were closed, so we celebrated on ZOOM because groups or more than 10 were not allowed. Here I am now, day 90 of quarantine and our first days of summer camp have just begun. Beaches and restaurants are opening again, and I finally hung out with friends for the first time in months. This special time has taught us all about adapting quickly to situations and making the most out of what we can, so as we slowly fall back into the norm, I suggest we all reflect on our time at home and find peace in knowing we preserved.”

The Founders Also Shared Their Stories:

“It was Friday, the 13th of March 2020, when COVID-19 hit us. We had to cancel our School Holiday Camp on March 16th and close our center indefinitely. At first, the optimist in me thought, ‘will it be that bad?’, but very soon, I realized this is nothing like anything I have seen in my life before. On the personal front, I wanted my family and my dear ones to be safe from the virus, and on the professional front, I wondered what our S2STEM team would do in these uncertain conditions. During the quarantine, one of the very first things I did was to paint a tennis court in our cul-de-sac which helped me and my boys to play tennis in the evening. Me and my wife started to go on morning walks and saw our nearby neighborhood in an entirely new view. During the lock down, many people must have missed going to work. I was fortunate that I could go to S2STEM, mostly to feed the fish at the center and for other reasons. Going to S2STEM gave me some sense of normalcy to my day.  Tough times truly test our patience and I am fortunate to be surrounded by family, friends, and co-workers who help me to come out better out of challenging times like these.”

“It has been an interesting phase of my life but I have been optimistic throughout the quarantine. It is tough to manage all the moving parts but I focus on things that I can control and change vs. worrying about the things that I can not plan or predict. On the family front, my boys were pretty good at doing online learning on their own but my toddler missed the school so badly and she lost the structure and schedule as we were juggling with work, business, kids and life. On S2STEM font, we are fortunate to have a team that adapted to the change so well and figured out a way to support our parents and students who are going through tough times just like us. As a team, we focused on supporting parents, students and each other and reacting to change every month (believe it or not we had to plan our summer camps 3 times this year) and I am glad finally it is coming to an end. Overall I think this experience made us all strong and helped us challenge ourselves more, come up with creative and innovative ways to solve unplanned situations in life. I am sure very soon, we can all put this behind and move on to the next phase.”

This pandemic may have changed our world, but we have been able to adapt and overcome. Our goal in this is to make sure that we can help students and parents keep up with education in any way we can. We hope to be able to go back to normal schedules and normal routines, but until then, we are making the best of the world we are in.