As the Netherlands enters its third month of the coronavirus pandemic, Road of Hope continues to focus on our aim of providing emotional support for refugees’ integration into Dutch society. We work to ensure their mental wellbeing and to provide essential language lessons, completely online and at a safe social distance. These unprecedented circumstances have only brought our community closer together and the Road of Hope team will continue to strive to make sure that our participants receive the help they need.
For more information about our online programmes and to see how our team are adapting to working from home, please take a look at our video on our Instagram page!
COVID-19 has confronted humanity with unprecedented challenges. Students globally have had their studies temporarily disrupted and those continuing to study from home find it hard to concentrate as they worry for the health of their loved ones and cope with anxiety about their now uncertain futures.
At Road of Hope, we believe that it is important to maintain personal connections despite the physical isolation, in order to support our mental and emotional health. We have been working hard to adapt to “the new normal” and one way we have done so is by ensuring that our participants are confident in undertaking online learning. Our Dutch classes are being conducted digitally; sessions are held once a week for two hours, providing essential lessons in order to support refugees in building their language skills.
This week, we hear from our brilliant Dutch teacher Vincent Merjenberg about his experience of online teaching:
How have the Dutch classes been adapted to be carried out online?
Vincent: “Since the beginning of ‘corona’ we have moved our weekly lesson from the classroom to a digital meeting via Zoom. Every Wednesday from 16.00h to 18.00h we continue our course as best as we can.”
How have you been able to support the participants and help them continue to learn during these uncertain times?
Vincent: “Besides the weekly lesson, I give my students optional homework, which they can send to me for feedback.”
What challenges have you experienced with remote teaching?
Vincent: “In a group chat via Zoom, it’s a bit more complicated to allow our lesson to just go in any direction it will, like we were used to when meeting in person. It’s harder to just talk with each other – usually an important part of a language lesson, of course. Our meetings need to be a bit more structured than usual, with more direction from me, the teacher. So, more grammar and other language theory unfortunately, and less conversation. Anyone who has used Zoom or Hangouts etc. with more than two people knows that chaos is always around the corner…”
In what way do you believe communication with the participants has been strengthened during this time of quarantine?
Vincent: “Since everybody is at their own homes during the lessons, our meetings automatically become more personal. We now have a glimpse into each other’s personal lives, seeing each other’s homes and every now and then a child walks into view. And because of the uncertainty of these times, our conversations become more serious sometimes.”
Is there anything else you have learned from this experience that you would like to share?
Vincent: “Nothing beats meeting each other in real life. I can’t wait to properly meet my students again soon.”