Now, as this semester ends, the second one after our whole world changed and a faraway threat became an invisible, but real influence on all our lives, I think it is worth reflecting on the importance of kindness.
We have all adjusted to the new normal, delivering teaching, discussing research and having coffee breaks and even farewell parties online. Our students have not just met minimal requirements - they have worked hard, been enthusiastic and showed a real desire to learn despite every changing modalities and rules. They have supported those of us teaching, and been incredibly graceful, and grateful, in doing so.
Our departmental leadership have kept us informed, and supported us in doing our jobs, while at the same time still dealing with all of the normal administrative activities of a large university. The support staff have made sure they are available to help us with our problems, and have done so cheerfully and efficiently.
Many in the department are far from family and friends, with no clear possibility to go and visit them in the near future, but have carried on working towards completing PhDs, papers and research projects. Some have been catapulted into a new world, where meeting people is almost impossible, and are lonely and worried. Others look after relatives nearby, or help to motivate children to do school work in a world that sometime feels uniformly grey, while at the same time working as hard, or mostly harder, than normal.
I think, given all this, that we all need reminded sometimes that being less productive than before is not just fine, it's human, and that no one should feel they are alone if they are struggling. With the winter solstice, the days will start to get lighter, and we can all look forwards. So, let's all carry on being patient and understanding, say thank you more often than we need to and, above all, be kind to one another.