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Covid-19 Archive, Y10 PBL: Mental Health

This LibGuide is a Year 10 Project Based Learning effort to capture the experiences of members of the CIS community from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and forward. It is a living document, initiated during the 2021-2022 school year.

Jennifer Shen 沈老師: CIS Year 4 Chinese Teacher

“When Covid first started, I wasn’t very scared because I had experienced SARS and I thought it would last temporarily. Despite the changes to my lifestyle, the effect on my mental health wasn’t strong in the beginning, however, my parents are getting old, so to visit them in Taiwan I had to 
quarantine twice. I used to visit my family three times a year, but I have visited them once during the pandemic. When I was shut in the quarantine room, I couldn’t see anyone for two weeks, I couldn’t even see the person delivering food. He would put the food at the door and run away. I couldn’t interact with anybody and I started to feel lonely; I left like a caged animal. But humans
are adaptive. After a few days, I thought about what I could do with the free time. I used to only have time for friends and students, and never for myself. But in quarantine I started to be more aware of how I took care of myself, and I learnt how to interact with myself more. I seized the opportunity to read more. Before that, I hadn’t read in a long time due to distractions in my daily life. I never used to believe in self care or wellbeing. But during quarantine, I wrote down things I was grateful for every day, for one week. It was useful; I’ve realised that I’m lucky because a lot of people, such as bus mothers, have lost their jobs, and this has motivated me to help people. I made my student’s do the same thing in class. In the beginning they didn’t know what to write, but after some time, they got better at identifying things they were grateful for. I remember one girl writing that she was grateful that she got to spend one last night with her dad before he went on a long business trip. 
Before COVID, my students were right under my nose and I could see everything they were doing, but when there was an outbreak they had to do virtual learning. The kids I teach are on the younger side; they have a short attention span and can’t stay in front of a screen for very long. You have to get their attention through a screen, so your teaching style completely changes. You have to create group activities, and research a lot about different educational video games. Furthermore, when they don’t understand something they won’t have someone right next to them helping them along the way. I think that this is the downside of online learning. However, some benefits from online learning are that now we have experienced a new way to study, and in the future people may change their studying methods and will instead prefer to go online. 
In my opinion, the biggest benefit from the pandemic is that it has been good for the environment. A major cause of pollution is the travel industry; Airplanes create a lot of pollution. Even though right now we feel bad that we cannot travel, global warming and pollution have been slowed down by the pandemic. 
I think that this pandemic has allowed us to feel grateful for the little things in life that we never noticed before. Everyday was the same before, but now we have become aware of all the things in the past that we took for granted such as travelling and visiting friends. No one knows what will happen the next day, so you start to treat yourself and try to live life in the moment.”

「疫情剛開始時,因為香港上次SARS我有經歷過,所以我並不恐慌,可是我以為是暫時性。對我 心裡健康影響原本不是很大,因為我還是可以繼續工作。雖然生活上是有些限制,要戴口罩,可 是我認為最大的影響,是因為我父母年紀很大,我為了回去探望他們,我必須要在台北的酒店隔 
離兩星期,回來再隔離了兩個星期,所以那一段隔離的時間對我來說是一個比較獨特的經驗。我 剛開始進旅館,他們就把門關上,我那兩個禮星期沒再看到任何人,我甚至連送餐的人都不會看 到,他把餐放在門口,按下鈴後,就走了,因為我們不能面對面接觸。所以一開始,我覺得很孤單 ,我覺得自己像被困在籠子裡的動物。可是人會適應環境,三四天後就開始想我能如何更好利用 這段時間。這一段時間對我最大的改變就是我開始會和我自己相處。以前我忙著交朋友,以前我 忙著教學生,可是我沒有時間和我自己相處。但是因為隔離就變成説你在房間裡你是個要學會跟 你自己相處的人。我的生活放慢了,我更注意衛生習慣了,也學會怎樣和自己相處。 
網上學習的壞處就是看年齡。比方說,對中學生來說,你們已經夠大夠獨立了,所以如果你有自 制力的話你在線上學習是沒問題的。對小學生來說,網上學習是更辛苦,因為他們必須坐在電腦 的前面,所以當他們聽不懂的時候旁邊如果沒有大人他們基本上就等如失去了很長一段時間的 學習機會。對他們來說網上學習是無效的,我個人感覺。網上學習的好處是我覺得可能就會是未 來的趨勢肯能在過幾年就是實體的學校不一定會在存在了,每一個人的學習方式不會在像以前 一樣,有可能每個人都會online去學自己喜歡的東西。 
我覺得這疫情當中最大的好處可能是環境保護。其實我們的地球已經被污染了很嚴重。其中一個 很大的污染原就是旅行;當我們坐一趟飛機去旅行的時候那個對整個地球的環境污染趙成很大的 影響,所以我們雖然被限制著不能旅行是件很可惜的事情,可是我覺得無形之中也可以減緩那個 環境污染的數度。 
在疫情當中大家都學會感激每件小事。比如説,以前我們認為明天就會跟今天一模一樣,可是當 疫情爆發而很多事情被限制著的時候,你會突然發現原來以前有很多很不錯的事。比方是旅行, 回家探望親友,我們認為是裡說當然的。可是現在如果我能夠去日本玩一趟我的心情會好很多,
所以一開始會對一些認為裡說當然的事情開始會比較珍惜,然後因為你不知道明天疫情會怎麼 樣,時間會怎麼變,你就會開始想說那今天要把我照顧好,就是你比較能夠活在當下。」

Jamie Li: CIS Primary Counsellor

“I’m one of the primary counselors, and this is my fourth year at CIS. I think that the first thing is the fact that students weren’t able to come to school during that time, and it is much harder for teachers to reach primary kids because, first of all, they don’t have an email address, the younger ones, and they don’t have the skills yet to check their email and follow directions via email, so reaching out to them is hard. Part of my job is to chat to kids, and not being able to reach out to them, the only thing which I can do is either reaching out to them via the parents or not being able to chat with them at all. I feel that a lot of the things were not able to be done during online learning, and my job was not as complete as it would have been if the children were at school. Even when the children came back to school, there were a lot of regulations which we had to follow so some of the times if I want to meet with them over lunchtime it's harder because of the eating regulations.
There has been a change in the student’s moods and wellbeing since Covid. In the past, younger students wouldn’t show their anxiousness about different things, but since Covid, there has been a lot more anxiety going on, even in young kids. The upper primary kids would have shown more signs of anxiety, but now I can see the trend going down to younger kids as well, and they have been expressing anxiety and worries, fear, and different behaviors, which is one of the big changes I can see since Covid. Hearing from parents as well, it’s hard to manage children at home since they’ve all been spending so much time at home. 
Personally, I’ve gained weight similarly to many people during online learning spending a lot of time in front of the computer and eating while doing so, and no exercise. I've started running outside my house which I’ve never done before. Covid has also impacted the opportunities I have to hang out with friends, which impacted my wellbeing as well. 
I have learned to communicate with other people better. When we were stuck at home, I needed to reach out to more of my friends to maintain my well-being, so I’ve been trying to reach out to more friends than before and trying to communicate with them. Being alone for longer times made me realize that I shouldn’t be waiting for other people to approach me, but to reach out as well.” 

在疫情中,我明顯地感覺到了與學生溝通的問題。首先,在網課的情況中,小學學生並沒有自己 的郵件,所以許多老師,包括我,都感覺到了溝通的困難。小學學生還不會用電腦、手機,所以我 們只能通過家長的輔導來與學生聊天。作為一個輔導員,我的工作需要與學生們悠閒地聊天。因 
此,在網課中,我的工作感覺缺陷了許多。其次,回到學校後,許多疫情的規定也變成我的工作的 阻礙了。比如說,學生在吃飯時不能到我的辦公室裡吃,所以他們能與我溝通的時間變短了許 多。我便不能方便地與學生聊天,在此地讓我的工作感到困難。 
還有,我感覺到小學生的情緒和心理健康也有被疫情影響到。在疫情前,一般年齡比較小的學生 都不會顯示他們對各樣東西的焦慮。可是在疫情中,從小到大的孩子都顯出了焦慮的狀況。我一 般不會在小學高年級的孩子看到更多焦慮的跡象,可是現在家長們和我都留意到了小學低年級 
的學生的不同焦慮、擔憂、恐懼等不同的行為。這也許是我在疫情中看到的其中一個最大的改 變。從家長的角度來看,他們在家裡整天需要管理孩子,應該也感到十分疲累吧。 
我最近也增肥了。我整天一邊小吃一邊坐在電腦的屏幕前,完全沒有機會去做運動。於是,透過 疫情中的機會,我開始在早晨中跑步了。透過這一次的疫情,我學會了如何與別人在網上溝通, 也學會了如何和朋友之間更主動地與他們相遇。我學會了與別人溝通的重要性。」

Annate Faldyn: CIS Secondary Counsellor

“I probably signed my contract late summer. I had to spend 3 weeks in quarantine, because I was coming from Arizona, USA. So my first experience with CIS was having to go into quarantine actually. And I think my experience may be a bit unusual because I actually really enjoyed quarantine. I liked the quiet, I liked the solitude, and I really enjoyed having the time to read, and to watch news programs. So that was good, and I had a day off and I started here. And from the really beginning, I have had a really good feeling being in CIS, I don’t know if I can really explain that, except that it just feels right being here. I just feel like I’m in the right place, I feel like I’m where I should be. I am the counceiller here for Monica Chang whose office this is, of course. I see year 7s, 8s, 9s, 10s and even 13s. I see some of Monica’s students who are here, and we just work on whatever the students come up with. A lot of times, it is just about worry. Grades, issues with friends, and probably anxiety which is the biggest issue. Of those things, most of it is related to lack of sleep. Lack of sleep leads to them feeling bad about things.
Feeling bad about themselves, school, their lives. Some of the students are very distraught. Other’s just want to have a nice chat with me.” 
“On February 5th of 2020, I called my doctor here in HK, and she gave me the heads up to travel. I got to LA, nobody was wearing masks, the US was not even worried. And I was very shocked and appalled. The USA was just in “la la land.” They did not realize what was happening. I realized that the government didn’t realize the significance of COVID-19. This really upset me the most. How casual the US government was about the situation. I felt panicked when I saw the news. I got tested many times when I got to the US because I felt like it was the right thing to do.” 
“The 2 emotions I felt most strongly was that I loved that everything just slowed down, there were not as many cars on the street, people weren’t shopping as much, there were not as many social activities, people were not going to restaurants as much. I liked that everything was kind of slowed down, I preferred it.” 
“I know people are talking about how triggered they’ve been, how sad they’ve been. But for me, I didn’t feel the negativity of covid I don’t think.” 
“Throughout the world, researchers and people who are in the know say that people can’t find enough counselors and therapists, because covid had resulted in so many issues for so many people. People who are in a house have to spend more time than they would ever spend together. All kinds of anxieties have taken form. I think one big thing is masks, I don’t like not being able to see my students because I can only read your eyes, I can’t read the rest of your face when you’re having your mask on. “ 
“I think when I first started counseling, I didn’t know how to separate student’s issues from my own. I might think about the student again at night, like I would think about things that I would forget to mention to the student. But overtime, it’s gotten better. The only time I worry about my students now is if they become suicidal. I feel like I did not say something? Did I not ask something? I feel like if a student ever died, that would be horrible.” 
“As far as the anxiety goes, I think being anxious helps me understand anxiety better. I don’t think someone without anxiety would never be able to understand people’s issues. If you have never experienced it, how can you really know? In my opinion, I am always better at things if I have had the experience.” 

「当我抵达美国时我被震惊到了」她对我说「在疫情开始时,我正准备回美国去见我的家人。因为 担心安全,我还专门打电话问我的医生我能不能去,并在得到他的首肯后才定心做好选择。」 
「在我走出机场时,我简直不能相信自己的眼睛,大街上没有一个人戴口罩,甚至还有人用奇怪的 眼神看着我。貌似这个“天堂”里没有冠状病毒这回事一般。」 
「在回来时隔离的日子里,与大多人不同,我反而挺喜欢隔离的。在隔离的日子里,大街上的人们 都不见了,人们不再去饭店,周围都静下来了。」 
「我觉得对我而言,疫情并不是太大的问题。除了病毒的危险以外,其实我是很喜欢疫情的这一 段时间的。但是对于我的学生们来说,情况就大大不同了。」 
「很多我的学生在家中都感觉到了压抑。平时可以在学校一整天,只有周末会紧张,很多家庭都不 适应天天在一起。」 
「我在与同学们交流时看不到他们的面部表情,让我的工作难上加难。我每天都看新闻,我知道 世界在受伤,所以我不希望我听上去在说“世界上没有任何问题,我很开心!”。我知道很多人都 受到了无法恢复的创伤。我认为疫情的副作用大大拉开了人们之间的距离,在疫苗和反疫苗中 将国家撕裂了。离婚两大大增加了。我只是觉得对我自己而言,疫情没有太坏。」 

Tim Conroy-Stocker: CIS Head of Secondary Counselling

My name is Tim Conroy-Stocker and I am the head counsellor at CIS. I have been in Hong Kong for almost 12 years and I joined CIS in 2019. 
I live in Sai Kung, and during the time when we were online, I could wake up later, and I really enjoyed being able to do this. I went on many walks and I actually lost quite a bit of weight. It made me healthier. However, coming back to school was so hard. Once you see that things can work a different way, it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle. I wish school would go back to a mixture of online and in person, so something like ending school at 1pm. 
The best thing about working at CIS is seeing how the school is able to support the students and encourage the passion and interest of each individual student. One thing I really like about my job is that CIS is a place where people listen, meaning that people can try new things. The people here are quite optimistic, and that’s great because it makes you keep going on despite the difficulties. 
It is a real challenge for people with family overseas, although it is safer to be in Hong Kong. The biggest challenge here in Hong Kong is lockdown. It was really difficult coming back to school face to face as a counselor because people have experienced issues with online school and “pandemic fatigue.” People have been feeling hopeless thinking “When will this finish?” Stress has been a big issue since the pandemic. 
Before Covid in 2019, I went to the Hangzhou CIS campus twice during the first semester. I can no longer do that now. One difference the pandemic has brought to our jobs is that when we were doing online school, we were not able to do walk-in sessions unlike physical school days. People used to come in and chat anytime, and that was very tricky
to do online. That’s why the counselling team was so busy when school reopened. I’ve noticed more anxiety and depression in students. Lots of people feel defeated. And it’s all around the same issues. Everyone is really competitive in CIS, because it is an academically demanding school, so we see a lot of situations where people think an 8 is fine but no other grade is okay. People think “I have to get this grade, and if I don’t, then it’s a disaster.” These few years have been the worst for children and young people. In comparison to myself, this pandemic has taken up a much larger fraction of your life compared to mine. 
If Covid would suddenly disappear, everyone would breathe a sigh of relief. During this pandemic, I’ve had lots and lots of difficult family discussions about the future. Is this the right time to leave Hong Kong? Should we go to the UK? What about our children’s education? I’m constantly thinking about what I should do. I had many serious conversations with my wife about these questions. But if given the chance to choose again, I would still decide to stay in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has been controlling Covid very well compared to other countries. 

我叫 Tim Conroy-Stocker, 我是漢基的輔導員主任。我已經在香港住了接近12年,我在2019年來到了漢基。 
我住在西貢,當我們還在轉到網上學習時,我最享受就是可以晚一點二才起床。上一年,我經常散步,因此減 了肥。這讓我變得更健康。不過,恢復上學時真的很困難。當你知道辦事能用另外一個方法來做,“把精靈放 回瓶子” 是一種很艱難的挑戰。我認為最理想的解決就是學校回到一半網上學習、一半體校,比如一點鐘放 學。 
我喜歡在漢基作工,因為漢基是一個別人能理解你的地方。我最喜歡看到學生互相支持。這說明大家都能嘗 試很多不同東西。在這裡的人挺樂觀,所以當你有困難,你身邊的人會支持你,讓你堅持下去。 
對有親戚在外國的人,雖然在香港會比較安全,面對封城是最大的挑戰。作為一為輔導員,回到面對面的學 校特別難,因為許多人經過了關於網上學習和 “疫情疲倦“。自從疫情的開始,大家都面對很大的壓力。很多 人感到絕望,不斷地想 ”我們什麼時候才能恢復正常的生活模式?”。 
在 2019 新冠病來之前,我去了杭州漢基兩次。我現在不能這樣做。以前我們每天都有學生來找我們,但自從 疫情的開始,我們的病人整天留在家,被逼獨自面對他們的心理問題。因此,當我們開學之後,非常忙碌,天 天都有患者來找我們。我觀察到在學生中,出現了更多焦慮症和抑鬱症。在漢基,大家都很有競爭性。因為漢 
基是一個很學術上有高要求的校園,所以太多學生認為自己一定要得到滿分,如果得不了滿分就對自己說 “我失敗了”。我認為在新冠疫情的影響之下,年輕人是最受苦的。如果跟我來比較,這次的疫情已經佔了年 輕人生命中的一大部分。 
我認為,如果新冠病突然消失了,我認為大家都會歎一口氣。在這兩年來,我和我的家庭經常討論未來該怎 麼辦。現在是否離開香港的時間嗎?我們應該回去英國嗎?那麼我們孩子的教育呢? 我和我的老婆為了討 論這些問題,非常煩惱。但是,如果我有機會再選一便,我還是會選擇留在香港。原因是香港比其他國家控制 新冠疫情好多了。