Dear students, with NSW reopening for fully vaccinated people, there are a lot of emotions being felt. Relief is certainly one.
As we inch closer toward life as we knew it, there is a recognisable air of hope in my conversations with colleagues, students, family and friends. However, apprehension is another strong emotion being felt. We’re not out of this yet and we’re also very aware of the changing nature of this virus. This apprehension isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it highlights the importance of a slow and cautious reopening. As we come out of lockdown, we must move forward with caution and care for our fellow citizens. We are not okay until we are all okay – making special mention of our frontline workers and those in our community who are still vulnerable. Please continue to observe QR check-ins, masks, physical distancing, and limits to the number of people you can have in your home etc. We have come so far, but there is still a way to go.
On that note, I was reading an article about grief the other day, which spoke a lot to the emotional journey we’re all on. As you can probably recognise, this pandemic has placed us all in a state of grief, one type being anticipatory grief, which is the feeling we get about an uncertain future. In the article, grief expert David Kessler, says “With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people. Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks our sense of safety. We’re feeling that loss of safety… Anticipatory grief is the mind going to the future and imagining the worst. To calm yourself, you want to come into the present… name five things in the room. There’s a computer, a chair, a picture of the dog, an old rug, and a coffee mug. It’s that simple. Breathe. Realise that in the present moment, nothing you’ve anticipated has happened… Finally, it’s a good time to stock up on compassion. Everyone will have different levels of fear and grief and it manifests in different ways… so be patient.”
Take part in out mental health survey and activities
Our Student Mental Health Survey is live until 29 October 2021. Student mental health is very important to us, so your feedback in this area is incredibly valuable. If you have an opportunity, please take the time to respond. It really is crucial to our understanding of the student position, and your feedback could have real and lasting impact on improving student mental health.
The survey and feedback is particularly relevant as October is Mental Health Month. The team at UOW Pulse have put together some great online activities and resources for students. These events can be found on their Facebook event page and include things like Morning Yoga, Pottery Workshops, Fit and Well Fest, and Wellness Workshops. Make time for your mental health while joining in on some fun and informative activities with peers – sounds like a win/win to me!
Global Climate Change Week
In more events news, next week is Global Climate Change Week and UOW and our community partners have developed a fantastic and informative schedule of events, activities and resources to raise awareness of climate change and drive action toward achieving a healthier planet. From discussion panels to nature walks, I look forward to getting involved and I strongly encourage you to do the same!
Join this virtual event
You’re also all invited to a virtual event hosted by the School of Medicine ‘Working and leading with values: perspective of a trauma surgeon’ on Wednesday 20 October. Dr. Joseph V. Sakran is a trauma surgeon and recognised advocate for gun violence prevention in the United States. A survivor of gun violence himself, Dr. Sakran’s interest in medicine and trauma surgery began after a stray bullet nearly killed him during his senior year of high school. He has dedicated his life to treating the most vulnerable, reducing health disparities among marginalized populations, and advancing public policy that alleviates structural violence in low-income communities. It’s set to be a fascinating discussion.
Celebrating our graduates
Finally, it’s here – one of the biggest events on the University’s calendar. We are very excited to celebrate and congratulate our graduates from 2020 and 2021 with a live online graduation broadcast this Thursday 14 October. On behalf of the University, we’re incredibly proud of our graduates for persevering during unprecedented times and hope this live and engaging virtual event will help students connect with UOW and their fellow graduates in a meaningful way, albeit via screen. The ceremonies will be broadcast from 6pm (AEDT). For more information, visit the 2021 ceremonies webpage and we hope you will join in and celebrate with your peers. Please use #UOWgrad2021 on socials – without being able to see the celebration in person, I’m really hoping you will be able to get a sense of the occasion online, via the links found here.
Stay safe and please enjoy these new freedoms with caution and compassion.