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In This Place

Reflections on a Pandemic: Takeru Nagayoshi

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Takeru Nagayoshi

Over the past few weeks we reached out across our region to people from all walks of life. We asked them to share their thoughts as they navigate through the pandemic.

Here is one of the essays featured on our Voices of the Pandemic episode of The Point.

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It’s been 6 weeks since I had physical contact with another person.

As a teacher, this means there is no…

  • high-fives for a job well done
  • a fist bump to a student while walking down the halls
  • a shoulder nudge to redirect that kid off-task
  • or a hug in a moment of crisis 

There’s a lot we’re missing out on… but those that hurt the most are such human moments & experiences.
I think I speak on behalf of all teachers that what we miss the most right now is our students. we think about & worry for our students every day

we’re worried… sure, about school work and “students falling behind”

but at a more fundamental level, we’re worried about them, their mental health and social emotional well-being…

we’re worried about the kids we can’t get in contact with because of tech issues

we’re worried about our students for whom our schools were a safe place, somewhere that provided them with warm meals…

we’re worried about their families, if they still have jobs & how they’re weathering this crisis…

my heart breaks for my seniors, who’ve had so much taken away from them. it was supposed to be their year, to live it up at prom & to walk down the graduation aisle…

i remember some of the deepest conversations i had with my HS friends were around this time, where we were all processing together what our life was going to look like… and so much of that has been robbed from them.

i empathize with them..

As the state’s 2020 Teacher of the Year I felt so much was upended from my life. when all the cancellations started—my speeches and conferences and award ceremonies (had it not been for covid right now, i’d be in the white house at this very moment…)

so i was so frustrated… to have something we worked so hard for not come to fruition 

but it was such a deeply uncomfortable feeling b/c in so many other ways, i am so privileged—i have this title, a job, i have a home, my family and i are healthy.

with so much time for reflection, i’ve come a long way to reconcile these tensions in my emotions, that two truths in being sad and grateful can co-exist, and that there’s always a silver lining.

it’s ok to grieve the loss of normalcy, our opportunities, the routine of life

but that the silver lining in all this disruption is that we’re pushed to unlearn very fundamental parts of ourselves, our identity 

i’ve never felt more introspective, and ironically in all this social distancing more closer to the people in life. intentional about my connection w/ others.

i’ve reconnected with old friends, I have hour-long conversations with my sister (which i usually don’t do)

the substance of my conversation changed with my students—we’re more focused on being there for each other; and my responsibility as an adult in their lives as well 

i cancelled my zoom session the other day…

that gives me hope

and my hope is that after all of this, we come out as a society of more self-aware, kind, & present beings.