November 24, 2020

‘I feel isolated’

BY N.H SAJJAD

Isolated thousands of miles away from home, international students living in Northampton Community College’s residence halls are trying to cope with distance learning and a lonely atmosphere amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel isolated, desperate, and tedious in NCC’s residence hall,” said Juan Pablo Adames Castillo, a first-year Electronics major from the Dominican Republic. “I am going through such a predicament that I never had been before. … I cannot visit my peers, professors, as well as the beautiful campus.”

Adames Castillo is among 13 international students from 10 countries who have been stranded on campus since the outbreak of the coronavirus across the United States.

All participants in the Community College Initiative Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, these students are struggling to complete their semester through remote learning.

“I feel bored to stay inside the room all the time. As a human being, I need to interact with other people to survive on the Earth,” said Figen Genc, a first-year Computer-Aided Design major from Turkey.

“It is stressful to stay out of[away from] family in this pandemic,” said Triono, a first-year Electronics major from Indonesia. “Apart from this, the dorm seems like a jail to me as I have to maintain self-distancing, and abide by the restriction imposed on movement to contain the highly contagious disease.”

Students expressed negative reactions to remote learning due to the shortcomings of sophisticated technology as well as a limited opportunity to get practical experience.

“Most of my classes are hands-on, so online courses are not the best option for me because I am not able of working in the labs anymore,” Adames Castillo said. “Besides, online classes seem tough for me as I am not used to it and can’t have real interaction with professor.”

Also trying to adjust is Akash Burma, a first-year Media Production major from India. “I need to perform at theater and capture a lot of pictures within a semester as a part of my coursework,” Burma said. “But in this situation [distant learning], I cannot go out to do either. … I couldn’t get the real taste of my assignments as I am doing everything in online.”

Online classes are “demotivating,” said Simnikiwe Ngcawa, a first-year accounting major from South Africa. “I am coping and doing what I have to succeed. I love being in class. “The atmosphere is just not the same and sometimes I just don’t feel like doing anything,” she said.

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