Katrin Huber – Global Perspectives during COVID-19

At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 has been difficult for so many people across the world. At the beginning of the pandemic, we reached out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We wanted to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation. Over a year on from the start of the pandemic, we’re reaching out again…

Originally from Madrid, Santi works in our WCIA Communications team. He has a background in Communications, Latin American Politics, and Spanish teaching. He reached out to Katrin Huber, an Austrian national based in Vienna working in education as a primary school teacher.

Here’s her story

It has already been over a year that we have to handle the Covid-19 pandemic and life has turned upside down for me and everybody else. We all have struggled throughout, so thinking about the unity that crisis generate gives me the hope that we will get through it. At a personal level, I feel blessed to live in Austria. I have been going back and forth to my hometown, although my work as a primary teacher is based in Vienna.

“Thinking about the unity that crisis generate gives me […] hope”

In the beginning of the pandemic I was teaching to kids that could understand a bit of what was going on. That made it easier for me to prepare them for the resulting changes such as homeschooling. As kids nowadays are tech-savvy, they all were pretty quick in adapting to using their email addresses or video calling for assignments and online classes. The process was new to everybody, teachers included.

At a personal level, what saddened me the most were the tight restrictions on travelling or wearing a mask indoors. Now we see it as an everyday thing. Unfortunately, our family shop, run by my sister, has been deeply affected and the whole family has to keep updated when new regulations and restrictions come in place. And they come very often because the situation changes by the minute. Initially we closed down for some months and transitioned into a digital store as well. But people in my hometown have managed to make their orders online. That’s something!

I feel very lucky I have a fixed contract as a primary school teacher, and going to work every morning makes me incredibly happy. Socially… that’s another issue. I miss my friends because we haven’t been able to see each other often. But we have to be patient because better times will come.

“We must trust science”

Nationally, the vaccine rollout is being a matter of public debate. For instance, all teacher get the vaccine given their professional status. I must admit I was a bit hesitant in the beginning due to all confusing information. But we powered through it, and that makes me hopeful for the future. In the manner of my classes, this is an ongoing learning situation. After all, we must trust science. It is extremely painful to see the way other governments are dealing with this crisis, for example in Brazil.

“We all have our own struggle, but the pandemic has opened up a very interesting intergenerational debate”

Back to my role as a teacher, we all have gotten used to new dynamics. Even my 6 and 7 year-old kids are tested every day! First thing they wave good morning, and then we make a little party when the results come up negative. So then we start our classes. They are all wearing masks and sit separately. Technology is very helpful for my job and to keep in touch with friends. Elders at my hometown keep saying that they had it worse during WWII. This gives you some positive perspective. In a way, we all have our own struggle, but the pandemic has opened up a very interesting intergenerational debate.

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