Dear 2020, I usually start my letters by saying I hope all is well, but since I know that it is not the case for you, I will skip this wish and move on to the main topic of this letter, which is recapping the highlights that I and the rest of the human population went through and experienced firsthand throughout your presence.
I am trying to do this in an attempt to heal our souls from the scars some of us gathered during your presence that we are still holding on to.
I must say that you have been very heavy on us. I do not mean to offend you, but I must admit that you changed, broke, convinced and motivated me in more ways than one. Please allow me to elaborate on all these points.
You have changed many of the beliefs of the human population that I thought would take a couple of more years to happen. For example, we were forced overnight to work completely from home, and we were still able to achieve our goals and targets at work through the use of technology. This has had a big impact on how we do business from now on, and on how we can utilize technology much more effectively and decrease loss of time in transportation, business travel, business expenses and office space.
For companies that were still working the old-fashioned way, it was a nightmare to convert to digitizing everything, but they made great progress in the right direction in a short period of time. Change is not always welcomed, but in this case, it was much needed and it took COVID-19 to accelerate this process.
I am glad that you single-handedly shattered the idea that online learning is ineffective. I think the important question concerns how long online learning will last. Let me be clear that I am not an advocate for complete online learning. I believe blended learning is much more effective as it follows a hybrid model of in-class and online learning that helps students support each other and holds them accountable to learning targets.
I guess it took you, 2020, to make us all realize how important family, health and cleanliness is and how we need to take care of each equally.
Dr. Taghreed Al-Saraj
This blended learning model gives students some interaction with classmates and also follow-up with teachers to help understand complicated lessons. Furthermore, blended learning or schooling saves on school construction and optimizes school building usage and capacity.
It took the complete online schooling transformation to make parents and students appreciate the process of going to school, sitting in class and listening to teachers explain lessons face to face. Some might argue that online schooling was always available and used even before you came, but my rebuttal to this statement is that online schooling is not for the wide majority of the student/parent population. Not everyone can handle sitting on a computer for extended periods of time to learn.
I guess it took you, 2020, to make us all realize how important family, health and cleanliness is and how we need to take care of each equally. During the height of the COVID-19 scare, the world saw images being circulated of Italian’s sitting in their balconies and creating beautiful music to cheer each other up and lift each other’s spirits, symbolizing unity for all of us. We are all in this scare together and we cannot get through it without supporting each other mentally while demonstrating physical distancing.
In the end, I would like to thank you for being you, 2020, and for showing us what we need to pay attention to, what we missed and what we took for granted. My only hope is that your successor, 2021, will be much kinder in the lessons that it will give us. Farewell 2020, history will remember you!
• Dr. Taghreed Al-Saraj is a best-selling Saudi author, an international public speaker and an entrepreneurship mentor.