I’m sitting down with two Arts students. We each have a coffee, our bibles are open and I’m running a training session on how to be a bible study leader. During ordinary times, you might guess that we’re at Sydney University campus, but we’re actually at Campos cafe in Hornsby Westfield.
When second semester began, things were very promising. Headlines on the newspapers announced the returning of “life” to Sydney University Campus, as some classes were back face-to-face. However, things were far from normal. Sydney University only allowed students to be physically present on campus to minimise the spread of coronavirus. This meant that EU staff workers are not allowed to meet students on campus. The chaplaincy centre, often used to meet, teach and train students, remained closed. The students themselves only had a few tutorials face-to-face, if any. Many were not travelling to campus at all.
This posed a challenge for many EU staff on how to pastorally care for the students. One of the ways we could go about it was continuing to meet on Zoom. In some circumstances, this was the only option available. Another way to care for students was to use the freedom we have in NSW to travel to them and meet them face-to-face at their local cafe. This option often felt messy and inefficient. Many times I found myself asking whether it is worthwhile spending 20, 40 or even 50 min commuting one-way to meet a student, when I can do it more “efficiently” on Zoom. Looking back, I can say the answer is yes!
One of the students I travel to meet with commented “Coming all the way here may seem inefficient, but it is much more effective”. In response to Arts student leaders travelling as far as Wollongong to deliver exam care-packages, another student said, “It shows that they care for us”. I have learnt to hold more loosely to my schedule and accept that sometimes, loving students isn’t as efficient as I would like, but makes all the difference in the world!
Howie – Arts
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