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FOAD STUDENTS REFLECT ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

FOAD STUDENTS REFLECT ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

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Andile Dube, DUT Faculty of Arts Design Communications Officer asked six DUT students and former DUT students to share how the coronavirus has affected them and how they have been dealing with its effects. 

 

Mthokozisi Nkosingiphile MtshaliMthokozisi Nkosingiphile Mtshali (Student: School of Education)      

Were you panicked when news of the virus broke in February? 

Yes, since it was not expected, and scientists were not even promising of its cure. 

How has the coronavirus affected you in your studies and personal life? 

In my personal life, it was positively affecting me because it is where I realised that I was supposed to relax and start to open a new page in my life while there was nothing operating. Then, in my studies, I was more than affected because it came immediately by the time whereby the NSFAS was removing me from their department by means of N+2 rule, so I was trying to fix all those problems by applying for any other sponsors which were still opened by that time. Now they are closed, and I’m still stressed because it is clear that by next year I could be staying at home because I’ll be owing to the university. 

How have you been dealing with the effects of the coronavirus? 

I was always washing my hands with soap after a while and sitting at home, then practising my Mathematics and Physics. 

What has this period taught you about yourself and life? 

It clearly shows that I must depend on myself and look for only things for positive things. 

What do you miss the most from before the coronavirus? 

An allowance to be with my lecturers in lecture rooms and also allowing us to be with our tutors since they were very helpful to our modules. Now, we are not adapting well to e-learning. I also miss breathing fresh oxygenated air since now we are living under masks that recycle carbon dioxide to our bodies and make us dizzy. 

What message of encouragement would you give to other students right now? 

I would like to say it is more than important to study and focus on what they are always dreaming of. Lastly, they need to follow instructions from the Government to keep their lives in good condition. 

  

Thalente Khomo 2Thalente Khomo (Former Photography student) 

Were you panicked when news of the virus broke in February

No, I wasn’t. 

How has the coronavirus affected you in your professional and personal life? 

Personally, I wasn’t able to see my family since I moved to another province. It isolated me from my family, and that really hurt. Professionally, it wasn’t that bad because Zoom meetings made everything easier for me, and I was still receiving payment, so it wasn’t that bad. 

How have you been dealing with the effects of the coronavirus? 

I haven’t been dealing with it, actually. It was the best time of my life because I could be an introvert without judgement. 

What has this period taught you about yourself and life? 

That I need more time by myself. 

What do you miss the most from before the coronavirus? 

Nothing, really. 

How do you think photographers have been affected by the coronavirus? 

Event photographers and freelance photographers really had a hard hit from this pandemic. Financially, it affected these type of photographers, but for the commercial ones, it’s business as usual. 

  

Nomvelo WandaNomvelo Wanda (Student: School of Education) 

Were you panicked when news of the virus broke in February? 

It was chaotic and disturbing. It holds a feeling of failure to a student going home early without fulfilling your main course of approaching tertiary education. At first, there wasn’t much information. It was fear-filled with not knowing whether coronavirus will be by your home and the lives of South Africans will be lost. How the South African government broke the news was scary and questionable: do they have a plan, and how will the country survive with lockdown and only work from essential workers? 

How has the coronavirus affected you in your studies and personal life? 

There was an introduction to online learning, and at first, it was a big relief and joy and excitement. In life in general, I endangered the lives of my family by working as an essential worker, and I was the only one working at that time. It was in the middle of the month, and home was a misery. It wasn’t nice; the situation was bad, and there was almost no food. There was only maize meal and salt, and I was only left with a choice to go back and work to bridge the gap as I was the only one soul who was working in this family of 8 mouths, and I had to go to university. There was social grant money and NSFAS, but at this time there was nothing. It was all finished by this time of the month. There were thoughts running from the family to approach loan sharks. I wasn’t told, and I was in the middle of that practice that my family was in debt because my mother broke her leg in the yard while I was at res, so that was how it was. I restarted working there to bridge the gap. As the implementation from 1 June, I communicated with the supervisor of the store to only work over the weekend in order to have the attendance perfect at school. It wasn’t easy. I was the breadwinner, and when I had to learn online, there was too much noise at home and we lived far from the library. There were times that in this area there was no electricity for days and I had to charge [my device] in a store. 

How have you been dealing with the effects of the coronavirus? 

We were left with to adjust to new rules and being updated daily about the COVID-19 news was relieving and good. 

What do you miss the most from before the coronavirus? 

I miss being at campus having long big lectures that included future teachers. That was the moment I knew I chose the right path and felt like I belonged. I missed catching the bus to school and riding the bus late (around 8) to our res, singing loudly in the bus. I missed the stadium singing, shouting and being noisy as students, being in crowded places, dancing, relationship goals and success goals. 

What fears do you have about life post COVID-19? 

It is confusing sometimes as we all don’t know what to expect. It is very upsetting and disappointing to hear someone you know is part of the big numbers that are published every day and he/she is gone and no more. 

What message of encouragement would you give to other students right now

Online learning has been implemented to further education and progress. If there is a will, there is always a way. It is all about choices. During hard times, a human being can choose to overwork or not work, but the ball is in your court. 

  

Busani MazibukoBusani Mzibuko (Student: School of Education) 

How has the coronavirus affected you in your studies and personal life

It has affected me academically as well as in my personal life. A lot has changed. For example, before the outbreak of this virus, I used to attend lectures on a physical basis where I get an opportunity to ask and engage with them, but now in “the new normal”, I am attending my lectures online, and I can say that the new normal of doing things has brought me close to technology, and it’s a good way of doing things. My personal life has been affected negatively because on weekends I used to assist Matric students and during the week I was busy tutoring students from varsity, but none of the above mentioned happened. 

How have you been dealing with the effects of the coronavirus? 

I have been close to my Saviour. I prayed for protection and guidance. I cannot say that I have dealt with the side effects of this virus, but I have allowed my Saviour to deal with everything with regards to this virus. 

What has this period taught you about yourself and life? 

It has taught me to put God first in all situations that I encounter in my life. It has made me realise the importance of technology. I have seen that nothing lasts forever, and there is time for everything and you need to be patient and be courageous. 

What do you miss the most from before the coronavirus? 

Going to church every day, assisting Matric students and tutoring. 

What fears do you have about life post-COVID-19? 

I cannot say that I fear this virus. What I fear the most is the livelihoods as well as the economy of our country. Many have lost their jobs due to this virus, and their livelihoods have been affected negatively because it is now very difficult to look after themselves and to take care of their loved ones or their families. As for our economy, it was not good before the COVID-19, and this year is worse than before. The figures that estimate the Consumer Price Index (Inflation) and Unemployment are not promising, but I still have hope that our economy will recover. 

What message of encouragement would you give to other students right now? 

During this time of need, we must not lose hope. We must not allow fear to control our lives. The struggle is temporary, but happiness is forever. God gave us this life to live it, so we must not live a life of regret or fear. This virus will be with us for quite some time, so we must go and do what we always did before the virus. We need to adapt to this new way of living and studying, hoping that all things will go back to normal again and that we shall live our happy lives again. 

  

Anele Malishe holding picAnele Malishe (Student: Language Practice) 

Were you panicked when news of the virus broke in February? 

Hearing that there is an outbreak of a pandemic flooded a lot of questions in my mind. Questions like will I survive it? Am I mentally and physically fit for it? Am I going to be able to deal with it? etc. To be honest, I panicked when the first case was confirmed here in Durban, but at the back of my mind, I had hope that the outbreak will fade out soon and life will continue as usual. Getting information that the number of cases increased drastically to a point that Durban became a hotspot and we had to leave everything and go home to contain the spread of the virus– as true as it was, it honestly felt like a smack on my cheek. I just didn’t understand. The announcement of the national lockdown was an eye-opener to me, and I had a different perspective of things. 

How has the coronavirus affected you in your studies and personal life? 

I was worried about my studies; to think that it’s my final year and my chance to shine for my family, then the whole world gets upside down, and the worst of it all: the world gets shut. I had wished that this pandemic broke out in our first year. It would have been easy to recover because honestly, I didn’t see any way possible of trying to save the academic year. When multimodal learning was introduced, I lost all hope and faith in myself and my studies. After some time, my positivity poured back and saw this whole pandemic situation as a chance for each one to find themselves, a break from everything and doing some introspection, a chance to deal with ourselves and be sure of what we want, and I had hoped that everyone comes out of this situation a different person. Looking at multimodal learning, I didn’t see it working, but now I’m enjoying it because I began to look at it as a chance to learn new things that will help me in the workplace, a chance to be more advanced in technological stuff in this forever-changing world. 

How have you been dealing with the effects of the coronavirus? 

I’m grateful that no-one in my family was infected and [I’m] sending out love to those who were infected and deep condolences to those who lost their loved ones because of this pandemic. COVID-19 taught me how to survive under difficult circumstances (especially at home) and adjust to a few things, grow some thick skin and also become strong for myself and my daughter. I got a chance to spend quality time with family, sort out our differences and we grew stronger. I’m a very active person; going to the gym made me forget about the pandemic, and it meant a lot when a few people got interested in what I was doing and joined me, including my sisters. 

What has this period taught you about yourself and life? 

I’ll be forever being grateful to the DUT’s student counselling centre for guiding me emotionally. I was able to use some tactics to deal with myself and everyone around me. I can say I’m the strongest person mentally and physically, I am resilient and really proud of myself. I’ve always looked at life as a rollercoaster ride, and right now the rollercoaster is making its way out of the dark tunnels and heading towards the light. COVID-19 was a phase, and it shall pass. 

What do you miss the most from before the coronavirus? 

I was not an outgoing person, but knowing that you have to stay indoors because of a pandemic made me feel like a prisoner. I miss going to the shops and being free, roaming the streets freely. I miss the life without a face mask, hugging freely. I miss sneezing freely and getting a ‘bless you’. I miss being surrounded by people and having fun and lastly, I miss the vibe the country had before the outbreak. 

What fears do you have about life post-COVID-19? 

My greatest fear post COVID-19 is how people will recklessly act in the name of being free. I’m afraid they will forget about hand hygiene. People are going to waste themselves away because there won’t be any restrictions on some things. I fear the rise of crime rate and road accidents. 

What message of encouragement would you give to other students right now? 

Everything revolves around time. Make the most of the little time you have been given. Another thing: don’t feel threatened by other people’s time; theirs is now and yours is coming, and remember in whatever you do, you’re always one decision away from changing your life. Nothing beats being strong and believing in yourself as an individual. As a student, stick to your goals, be in a productive circle and get active, but most importantly never abandon your books. They brought you here, and they will take you far. 

  

Anathi Gobeni 2Anathi Gobeni (Former Drama and Production Studies student and Imbewu: The Seed actress) 

Were you panicked when news of the virus broke in February? 

When the news broke about the coronavirus, there was generally a lot of panic as we did not have enough information about it, and all we knew were the bits of information that were sifted down through social media. We had conflicting reports about the authenticity of the illness, and there was generally a lot of fear as we began to hear about the severity as the death toll began to rise. Then the country gradually began to shut down and then we knew that it is real. Panic struck because we did not know what this meant for us and how prepared we were to handle the effects. 

How has the coronavirus affected you in your life personally? 

The coronavirus had a major dual effect on me. It had a positive impact because it made me become even more attentive when it comes to hygiene and cleanliness. On the other hand, it had a negative impact on my mental state: when we hit lockdown and we had to self-isolate, I lost contact (interpersonal) immediately with family and friends as I took the rules very seriously. I could not go to visit family or friends and that took a toll on me because even though I live alone, I enjoy having guests over and entertaining them, hosting dinners and so forth, but that could no longer happen as the country was on high alert due to the spreading of the virus. 

How have you been dealing with the effects of the coronavirus in your personal life? 

I haven’t been hit directly by the coronavirus per se, but I have been practising extra caution and also taking extra measures to make sure that I do not contract the virus because that would have a detrimental effect on my household and my working environment. Another important thing for me has been to destigmatise the virus in my own mind so that I do not treat recovered individuals with any less humanity. 

As an actor, how has COVID-19 impacted the way you work? 

We have seen major changes that have had to happen in order for us to be able to continue to work. Some of these changes included intimate scenes being cancelled or rewritten, minimising physical contact, not being able to use extras (background actors) in the scenes so we used smaller locations and we had to get very creative with camera angles. The technical crew had to change the way they work (make-up and wardrobe). We had to help as much as possible with that because part of their job includes them being in direct contact with us, and that could no longer happen, so we had to step in and take over a bulk of that work. Furthermore, a lot changed in the industry: auditions were no longer being held face to face but talent had to now submit audition tapes (self-recordings), and many events had been cancelled or postponed, which meant many alternative income streams had been plugged. All in all, the effects of the virus on the industry were immense. 

What has this period taught you about yourself and life? 

Life can change in an instant; nothing is forever. We have had a great deal of loss this year — loss of income, loss of jobs and most importantly, loss of life. The biggest lesson in all of this for me was to always appreciate what I have and the people that I have because it could all be gone in an instant. It also reminded me of my sense of humanity as in many cases we had to come together and assist those that needed assistance the most, so that was a tiny bit of silver lining in this dark cloud. We were reminded of UBUNTU and re-awoke our humanity. 

What message of encouragement would you give to your fans during this time? 

All things pass, especially negative. What we have to do is to find the positive in all situations. We should take this year as a reset and prepare ourselves to make 2021 the best year for ourselves. We should just remain patient, calm and take extra measures to ensure that we are healthy, happy and safe. Wear a mask when you leave the house, continue to sanitize your hands regularly and remember to be kind to everyone and make good choices. 

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