SCM Class of 20-21
DR. (SR.) ANILA VERGHESE
SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS MEDIA DEPARTMENT
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT
DR. SUNITHA CHITRAPU
MAGAZINE PROJECT IN-CHARGE
CONSULTANT PHOTO EDITOR
This year will have to start online! When we broke off abruptly in March 2020, we looked at it as a good break. Numbers in india didn't look alarming, we could continue to be in our safe cocoons and look upon this as a well deserved, bonus break. Then came the national lockdown and the horror of migration we all witnessed. My daughter is a resident doctor in a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) hospital, and so in the first line of fire. But needs must when the virus drives so there was no choice but to put all that aside and concentrate on how to get SCM online!
Despite the strange situation in which we found ourselves and despite the murky future, we got a bunch of applications, reasonably good ones and so we set out to build our bridge and walk it at the same time. We modified the entrance examination process and conducted the interviews online. (Missed the coffee, Suresh! And the fruit and the sandwiches and camaraderie :)).
And so in due course, we had a class of 40 bravehearts ready to roll. That's where Google came to our rescue! We plugged in our headphones, learned the surprisingly easy interface and sat down to get the faculty on board! This was a learning process for all of us; we had been made students again. We learned that our nostrils would be in full view, we tried not to award ourselves sainthood with backlit halos, we shifted our spots until we eliminated ceiling fans and then came the calls: ’How do I log in?’, ‘Am I logged in?’, ‘You’re on mute!’, ‘Why am I still here? How do I exit? Yes, I know it’s that red button but where is the red button? I can only see my own face’, ‘What do you mean ‘entire screen’?’ ‘How do I present?’ But we did what we have urged generations of our students to do; we left the comfort zone of the class and entered the new world of socially mediated teaching and modified our calendars to accommodate online classes.
The challenge of engaging a set of DPs instead of students is perhaps the most difficult one for us to conquer. With students in the classroom, you bond, you see their body language, you see when you are losing their interest and when you have them gripped! Here, you ask a question and the time lag that it takes for you to get to interior Madhya Pradesh or Banaras may leave a strange silence. Then you are told X has left the meeting, X has joined the meeting, Y has left…and so it goes on. You learn not to take it personally.
But we didn’t feel we had the right to complain for the challenges for the students were real. They were scattered in all parts of the country and didn't have equal access to the internet. A student sat outside his house in the cold months of Delhi to attend classes, as that was the only location he got network! But there was more: the real anxiety for the immediate present and the uncertain future; the stress of being online for long hours and then remotely connecting with team mates to deliver on team assignments; the challenge of putting together content without really stepping out amidst a raging pandemic and a lockdown. But when you read Marginalia or you look at any of the work that the students have done, you will see that our students have risen magnificently to the occasion. Many of them were battling physical illness personally and some were acting as caregivers to close family members. Some were grieving losses. They were all dealing with unimaginable levels of mental stress. But the students rose to each challenge and came out stronger and strongly.
And so our faith held and our bridge held. We have almost completed the year. Successfully. The proof of the pudding is in eating, or rather reading, here.
Marginalia is in a new avatar, in the form of the brilliant website designed and put up entirely by the students. The stories come from all parts of the country. The student work displayed on the Media Brew website is testimony to both the diverse, silo-less work done at SCMSophia and the resourcefulness, grit and determination of the students. We hope you enjoy the effort and reward them by sharing their work widely.
Social Communications Media Department