Friday, December 11, 2020

Art & Activism During Covid

Yesterday I delivered my final lecture to the undergraduates enrolled in my Fall 2020 Art & Activism class at UC Irvine. This was my third year teaching this course at UCI and the first time teaching it at UCI via zoom. Throughout the quarter I have felt immense compassion for this cohort as they have had to accept and utilize work-arounds to continue pursuing their education in spite of the limitations that Covid-19 has caused for the university.

Usually, I like to take a group picture with students all huddled together in the classroom or in Aldrich Park at the end of the quarter but instead, we took a group screen capture via zoom.

After the lecture, the students all lifted up thank you notes that they had secretly planned. I was surprised and deeply moved with their coordinated expression of gratitude, and found myself in tears ... which caused my daughter Monica to come into my office from the other room to see what was going on. She was a fast thinker and reached over to capture the screen in that moment.  

I have also been touched by students' written expressions including one student who shared her appreciation for the structure and requirements of the class. In spite of the challenges, they were required to consistently read, think, and astonish me with their writing. They were also required to be in attendance and participate via discussion and most of all: to be on time. It felt good to hear that the structure was helpful during these uncertain times. 

I am proud of these brilliant young people for figuring it out and making in happen in spite of Covid-19. I predict that with their creativity, critical thinking skills, their heightened awareness of important matters (e.g., practicing virtue instead of signaling it, collaboration, compromise, meeting deadlines, being on time, etc.) they will become creators of important context as they listen deeply to this hurting world and activate the best in humanity. 

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