Happy new week! I am delighted to report that nearly all of the AUN students have returned home (and were happy yesterday to celebrate Mother’s Day in person). Everything is going well for closure of AUN. Soon, our academic team will be sending you information about our transition to online instruction for the remainder of Spring 2020.
I thought you might enjoy hearing a few anecdotes, or snapshots, of life at AUN the past few days, during this time of COVID-19.
This letter will be about COVID-19: Some Anecdotes from AUN
AUN Honor Society induction, Friday, March 20, 2020
Our AUN Honor Society induction ceremony for new members had been scheduled to occur on Friday; however, we considered postponing it to allow students time to pack and make plans to return home. Instead, the students very much wanted to continue with the event as planned, and it went very well. We all felt a slight uncertainty in the air, and yet the event was very special. Our guest speaker delivered a lively speech about character and leadership, and the faculty advisor for the AUN Honor Society made everyone laugh with a funny story about maggi seasoning. Leading them in the honor society pledge, the students repeated after me, saying each word so clearly and with a lot of enthusiasm. We took some photos afterwards, almost awkwardly, as we wondered about this new “social-distancing” and how to take a group photo with the new protocols. I am very glad we did not reschedule; the event now serves as a very nice memory of our last day of operations before closing due to COVID-19.
Our learning community really stepped forward and rolled up their sleeves to help our Student Affairs colleagues with the logistics of students departing campus. Examples include moving luggage to airport shuttle buses, going with students to the airport, or just offering a listening and empathetic ear to students who wanted to talk. All of these gestures united and connected us. Additionally, our faculty members offered their homes as a place for the 10-12 students who could not depart until Tuesday and Wednesday, so they have a place to sleep and food to eat before they depart. Our Stallion Nation really came together, and the idea of “community” has taken on new and deeper meanings now. I could not be more proud to be leading our Stallion Nation.
Helping to spread the news to our local community
One staff member came up with the idea of translating the health advisory messages from our AUN Health Center into Hausa and Fulfulde and then airing them on the radio stations here. Most people living here get their news from the radio, and there is some confusion among the local community about COVID-19, so spreading the news about it through radio, in the local languages, has really been amazing. It signifies our entrepreneurial and developmental focus, and how much we care about the wider community.
Our Student Government Association (SGA) is determined to keep our student community active during this time of campus closure, so they have re-activated a student-designed online platform, called Quest. Trending online worldwide is #TogetherAtHome and our students want to stay connected, to be “together while at home” during our closure and Quest will be driven by students for students, to keep the Stallion spark alive.
On any typical Sunday at campus, you will overhear students talking about Arsenal, and debating whether other Premier League teams are better. But yesterday at campus, there was no talk about Arsenal; instead there was one last football game among the students who were still at campus and due to leave on Monday. Watching them in the warm-up practice about to start the game, you could sense they all felt this was a special occasion, the last time they would be together to play football, until we re-open. They were a little more serious than usual, but the smiles came out when we took some photos together and then they got back to the pitch and focusing on football. No matter what is happening in the world, football is something that unites us and our enthusiasm for football will never wane.
One of our Student Affairs colleagues who cares deeply about our students has made the decision to just assume he has COVID-19, despite not showing any symptoms and not being exposed to any known case. As such, he wears a mask to protect others, pretending he has it, and he does not want to spread it. At the local market here, masks normally cost ₦30 for one mask, or ₦50 for two masks. But now, due to the COVID-19 crisis, masks cost ₦400 for one mask. Students are learning about supply and demand, seeing the effect this virus has on the markets. Masks are in demand, and scarce, so the price has increased.
These anecdotes have revealed the depth of the values of our AUN learning community. Our Stallion Nation is rising up to meet the challenges, and carrying everyone along. In America, we are taught from an early age, “you have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” (often attributed to John Bunyan, from Pilgrim’s Progress). In the examples above, I see this spirit, and I know we will emerge on the other side of this COVID-19 challenge stronger, better, and even more determined to be the best learning community we can be.
Always, with best regards, stay safe, Semper Gumby
Dawn Dekle, PhD
AUN President (Vice-Chancellor)
Teaser: stay tuned for the next letter from the desk of the AUN President, on the topic “COVID-19: capturing the essence of the time we are living in”