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Dear Diary, A Message From the Students of 2020

How the students of today are learning, developing and finding their feet during a global pandemic.

It’s important that we take care of ourselves and our families during these challenging times...

- Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

We hear it time and time again, "We are all in this together," "These are challenging times." On and on, we hear the message that COVID-19 has rattled our world but that we can and will get back up again. For frontline workers, people who run essential services, and those who are working remotely, this message has become a motto to live by and remember later on into their working years.

But what about the people who will be filling those jobs in 5, 10, 20 years? What about today's students and children who are growing up estranged from society and preparing for an even more rapidly changing future through a Zoom screen? Kids are still developing their core learning skills, making friends and finding their place in the world. How has the pandemic changed their lives? How has the pandemic changed their futures? Changed the entire future?

The following are four fictional diary entries from the perspective of school-age students. The first is an elementary school child who has been taking online school, the second is a kid who has moved to a new city and is starting in-person middle school, the third is a student going through their final year of hybrid high school, and the fourth is a second-year college undergraduate student studying law remotely.

The following diary entries are works of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Dear Diary,

Today is November Friday 13 (spooky!) I saw Lucy today! I saw her through her house window when our moms were talking about mom stuff.... I couldn't hear Lucy talking because of the glass, it was kind of wierd, but then we made funny faces and shadow puppets with our hands and laughed. We were in the same class last year, but March break went on forever, and we were stuck at home all summer, and the playground was closed, and then school was online. But I'm happy I saw Lucy. I haven't seen Marc, or Reva, or Leo or … wow, I had so many freinds… and I have not seen them for FOREVER! Oh well… My english teacher says I need to practice writing since my speling is bad. So I'm writing to diary, but I do not know who that is. I have Skype singing lessons soon, so bye!

- Cara Weir, Grade 3

Dear Diary,

Baba said things get easier if you write them down, so I guess it's worth a shot. Today was my 38th day of school in Victoria (only 134 left!) and I still don't understand a single thing. I thought in middle school everyone stopped being so childish and started being more mature, but I guess not. My classmates spent all of recess chasing each other around, shrieking like chickens with their heads cut off. I sat in the corner reading my book. I wanted to talk with someone who might actually want to have a conversation without bringing up the newest TikTok dance. But everyone here knows everybody else and that leaves me all by myself… I want to go back to Ucluelet. Or at least convince Baba to let me take online school, if there is online school. I'm not even learning anything interesting in school! We just do the same thing over and over again, how many times can I relearn fractions! Wearing a mask all day makes my head hurt… I'm going to lie down… I should drink some water…

- Max Zhou, Grade 7

Dear Diary,

I read on social media that journaling can release stress, and if stress could radiate from your body like heat, I'd be hotter than our furnace in January! Last June, I was sympathizing with the 2020 grads: "It must be so hard for them to finish high school during COVID-19." Now, I feel bad for myself! Forget finishing school during a pandemic, they didn't know it was coming until March. They had half a year of normality. I don't even remember normality! This confusing hybrid system is messing with my brain and there is no way I'll get my university applications done before the deadline. And I have my science test tomorrow. And I have a history summative next week. The teachers are shoving information down our throats until we are bloated with one subject, then we do the whole thing next week for another subject, and another, and another… On top of that, the Premier threatened to extend winter break and continue the school year into July. School during summer! Just, no.

I met up with Leena, Sam and the jazz band kids (there were only 10 of us and we were socially distanced, don't judge me) last week for bubble tea. It was nice to talk with them, but it will be even better when we get to play together… Someday, someday. Oh la la, it's 12:47 in the morning and I better sleep otherwise I'll be snoring during my science test. Good night!

- Marie Musa, Grade 12

Dear Diary,

I've tried to be more grateful. Everytime I catch myself thinking "I hope this pandemic is over so I can …", I stop and list three things I'm grateful for. Today I was daydreaming about actually going on campus and meeting up with Maya for coffee like we did last year, so instead I thought "I am grateful for my good health, I am grateful for my families safety, I am grateful Maya hasn't broken up with me yet." I can't say it lifted my spirits, but at least I wasn't wallowing in self-pity.

This time last year, I was a completely different person than I am now. Old Advik was a first-year law undergrad student who lived in the dorms at U of T, drank sugary chai lattes to remember home, tutored to afford tuition and attended lectures in grand auditoriums. New Advik lives at home in Mississauga, drinks actual chai that his mom makes, has no job and attends lectures in his claustrophobic room with the Wi-Fi cutting out every few minutes. It's not what I dreamed of, but it's what I've got.

I had plans to meet with my political science study group at a nearby park to practice debating, but given the new restrictions—and the fact that our toes would freeze off—we are meeting over Zoom instead. I've got to do the laundry before that though… alright, see you! Stay grateful!

- Advik Shah, second-year undergrad


Government of Canada. (2020, May 3). Prime Minister announces virtual care and mental

health tools for Canadians. Retrieved from https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/

2020/05/03/prime-minister-an nounces-virtual-care-and-mental-health-tools

Featured image is courtesy of Unsplash.

Article Author: Ria Patel

Article Editors: Victoria Huang, Stephanie Sahadeo