For so many young people across the country, the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted not only their daily lives and routines, but will prevent them from experiencing some of the milestones they’ve been looking forward to for much of their lives. Youth on Course member Adora Wen was kind enough to share in her own words, a glimpse of the life as she knows it during this crisis.
Despite missing out the traditional Junior year experience, she’s discovered a new perspective, along with a new cause to inspire change in her own way:
Sitting in my calculus class, my teacher turned on the TV and streamed the live school board meeting. My friend, sitting in front, turned to me, an expression of ambivalence on her face.
“Do you really think it’s going to happen?”
I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
After watching intently for a few minutes, our superintendent finally addressed the elephant in the room. “The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of our lives, and the safety of our students is number one. I propose a district shut down, effective immediately.” The class went silent.
The video panned to the entire board, their faces grim and thoughtful. One by one, they agreed. Immediately, the class exploded. Some of my classmates cheered and grinned from the thought of no school, some were worried about the future, others conflicted. I was part of the last group.
I’m a junior in high school. I’m taking AP classes, I have standardized testing coming up, and I wanted to expand the reach of my nonprofit, JuniorCoach Golf Association. I was supposed to go to prom in two weeks, celebrate my friend’s birthday in a month, cry and laugh with my classmates after we finish our AP exams. My senior friends would have no graduation, no college visits, not even a potential full first year of college. No graduation caps, no senior awards, no tearful hugs and memorable goodbyes.
On our last day together in school, my friends and I gave each other long embraces, clueless to the 6-feet rule that was about to be implemented, the shelter-in-place order, the race to buy even basic supplies.
The stress and concern that came with being a high school student during the crisis is already so palpable that I can’t begin to understand the worries and fears of the families who are being affected directly by COVID-19. My heart goes out to the people who have experienced this illness firsthand or through the emotions of a loved one. I am grateful and humbled by the utter strength and sacrifice demonstrated by the doctors, nurses, and essential workers of the world. This illness truly affects everyone, and sometimes, it feels so big and convoluted that it’s easy to feel helpless.
My first few days in quarantine, I felt exactly that: helpless. I felt and still feel so fortunate to have enough money to afford basic food and shelter and to be able to have dedicated and hardworking teachers. But there are so many other people who don’t have these things. There are families who are experiencing unemployment and struggling to pay for rent or groceries. There are so many kids out there who don’t have access to distance learning, who don’t have access to teachers or tutors during this time, and who don’t have prep books to help them continue with schooling.
Golf has taught me however that helplessness can be a temporary feeling, and adversity is really just a call to rise to the occasion. I decided that I had an opportunity to chip away at a problem affecting a lot of students. I had to do something.
I called up the JuniorCoaches that were part of my organization, and asked them if they would be interested in providing free online tutoring for kids who need these resources. JuniorCoach Golf Association is a nonprofit organization of high school/college students who provide free golf lessons for kids across the nation. Since our focus is on education on the golf course, I knew that the JuniorCoaches would be willing to transfer those efforts to academics.
Immediately, we received tutoring requests from over 80 families, all wanting to take advantage of this opportunity for their kids. I taught my first lesson to a girl in kindergarten, who was learning phonetics and sounding out words like “cat” and “bat,” and my immediate next lesson was to a high school student who needed help with derivatives in calculus.
As the high school student and I talked about school and our stresses with AP exams, testing, the obscurity that now comes with the term “future,” I realized that though I would have no prom or birthday parties to look forward to, I was creating new relationships with people across the country that I would never have met. I was having moments of understanding and empathy with friends who were once strangers.
I was forging my own high school experience. It was far from a conventional high school experience, yes. But I was making memories and experiencing experiences all the same. I regained a sense of purpose almost in my weekly Zoom sessions.
I know that one person could not possibly defeat this pandemic and its repercussions. I know that I couldn’t possibly develop a vaccine, or a cure, or a treatment for this disease. But I know that I’ve impacted the lives of the students I connected with. I know that my JuniorCoaches and me, collectively, could do so much more together than we can do alone.
In a time such as now, unity and compassion are so incredibly important. Although we are social distancing, we have to remember we are never really alone.
If you are a student or if you know a student between the ages of 6-17 who needs help on any school subject, please register at juniorcoachgolf.org! We have many available tutors in almost every school subject available to help!*
If you are a high school student who wants to help other kids in communities across the nation by tutoring, please consider helping out and joining our coalition. All your volunteering will count towards your volunteer hours and even the Presidential Service Award! Go to our website juniorcoachgolf.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Written by YOC Member, Adora Wen
Adora Wen is an active Youth on Course member and the founder and President of JuniorCoach Golf Association, a non-profit she started to offer free peer-to-peer golf classes. She has been playing golf since she was 6 and has played competitively in local tournaments hosted by the NCGA, JGANC, JTNC, as well as national tournaments like AJGA.