Teaching internationally during lockdown
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Teaching internationally during lockdown

What do you do when travelling is what you like best, when you cannot go visit your family and have to spend Christmas by yourself? You spend ‘quality time with yourself’, produce beautiful artwork and you try and stop being a ‘wise planner’. At least, that is what visual art teacher Grasyntha Mellanie did.

By Grasyntha Mellanie, secondary visual art teacher

Travelling is one of my many interests. As a teacher, travelling has always been at the top of my to-do list during school holidays. Being an expat teacher in the Netherlands makes it all the more enjoyable, considering I am also a person who dislikes flying. From the Netherlands, European countries can easily be accessed by land transportation.

However, since mid-March 2020, the exact time when the pandemic took over our school’s DP Visual Art Exhibition, living abroad has been… confusing. As a wise planner, I was already planning what to do during my summer holiday, October break, Christmas break, and even February break (ask Ms. Oyarzo!). I was also preparing for a solo exhibition, requested by an NGO back home in Indonesia.

I am not even sure how I feel

Unfortunately, due to this never-ending pandemic, all plans got cancelled. Most days now, I am not even sure how to feel. All I can do is to do my best to follow the government’s regulations to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

When the government enacted the second lock down in early December, my first thought was: I will be spending Christmas by myself! I obviously cannot travel back home to Indonesia to see my family and friends, and I won’t be able to spend Christmas with my family in the Netherlands either, because I do not want to be a risk for them.

Drawing or illustrating

Therefore, in order to not completely waste the holiday time, I figured this would be a good opportunity to do the things I have wanted to do, but got left behind because of other school priorities. One thing I have been missing is quality time with myself. Time, I usually spend by drawing or illustrating. Being an art teacher does mean I usually don’t have much opportunity to work on my own art, unless I make time. So, I did make time!

I started by continuing with creating different botanical patterns, a project that I have been putting off for a while (that is, for 2 years). I am hoping to print these patterns on to fabric. A friend will then sew some clothing using this fabric.

I also spent some time to fix a big painting I started with the students during Art Club time. I changed the colour palette to black and white, but I haven’t finished this yet.

Balance indoor and outdoor activities

I did not spent my complete winter break drawing and painting, I also took some time to cycle to Oud Zuilen and around Amelisweerd with my colleague Ms. Ana Yao and I went trekking around Amersfoort (as you can see in the pictures above!).

On Christmas morning, I was so utterly grateful to be here, that I was not at all upset to be spending the holiday alone. All I wish for in this new year is to make sure that everyone is safe and healthy. If I can add one more wish, it is that everyone in our community can travel home without hesitation. I simply can’t ask for anything more!