“I didn’t even have a proper mask when I left Dublin”
Anna Mwakitalu, PhD Researcher, GATE Project, University of Dublin, Trinity College
COVID-19 has disrupted lives all over the world, including lives in my homeland Tanzania. We are all having to practice social distancing to help slow down the spread of the virus. Just as in many parts of the world, the pandemic has affected academic life here in Tanzania. We have all been touched by this pandemic, in one way or the other.
As the PhD student on the GATE Project, I share my time between Ireland and Tanzania. I was in Dublin when it all started. I remember how it all went very quickly for me. I was carrying out my literature review and attending structured modules as part of the PhD process, when word came that Trinity was going to close indefinitely. SHOCK and PANIC! I got very worried about myself, my family and friends in Tanzania. The daily, almost hourly calls to my family in Tanzania begun. Soon it was clear I had to get back home somehow. I had to travel back to Dar es Salaam from Dublin, so I could have peace of mind. Fortunately, I was able to get a seat on one of the last flights to Dar es Salaam from Dublin.
Leaving so hurriedly meant for me trying to work remotely. I still had courses to complete in Dublin. I hadn’t completed my structured modules and I was also preparing for a conference in April. Soon though, modules shifted to online and the 2nd International conference for Gender in Higher Education was cancelled and which has now been shifted to November 2020.
All these changes made me navigate to new platforms of online learning, using Zoom, Skype, Collaborate and Ultra to enable me to finish my lectures from Tanzania. The adoption of online solutions in recent months has been unprecedented, at least for me. My experiences have switched entirely from primarily being in-person to remote instructions- something that I was not used to but find very exciting at the moment. Regardless of the poor internet connection, I have been successful in completing my courses and to stay in touch with my supervisors, as frequently as has been necessary.
My daily routine has changed dramatically now that I am home. I am working on the next phase of my PhD course, getting progress reports ready and preparing for my confirmation process in September. I have to also take care of my children who are at home, helping them with their schoolwork too. As it stands, I don’t know when I am going to go back to Dublin. I am looking forward to it, but I guess, I am so glad to be home with my family.