Anđela Jakšić-Stojanović, a Community Story from Montenegro
I am an assistant professor of Marketing-Management in Tourism at the Faculty of Culture and Tourism at the University of Donja Gorica. I have a PhD in Management in Tourism and I was granted a SUNBEAM scholarship for post-graduate studies in the field of tourism from the Faculty of Economics, Business and Tourism, University of Split, Croatia. As an author of two scientific monographs, several scientific books and many scientific papers I have been part of more than twenty international and national scientific-research projects. I have also been a guest lecturer at several higher education institutions in Italy, Turkey, Poland and others. Although I have more than ten years of experience in adult education, I only recently signed up on the EPALE platform. The platform looks like a great place to exchange practices and experiences with adult learning professionals from all around the world. It is also a great opportunity to improve our own knowledge, skills and competences and improve the whole education process in many different fields. I would like to congratulate the Montenegro EPALE team for promoting the platform so effectively via different media channels, as well as for their successful promotion of the platform on social media networks.
Corona, lockdown, isolation, quarantine, recession, bans, infected, dead… These are just some of the words commonly spoken in recent weeks.
The economy of many countries is on its knees, unemployment is rising, factories are being closed, the tourism industry is facing one of the biggest crises in its history. While at the same time, as always happens, in addition to the economic hardship, the outbreak has sparked many psychological and sociological challenges. Scrambling for flour, oil and loo roll, finding empty shelves, people hoarding supplies, fearful of hunger and poverty, fearful of fear. The reaction of the people, unfortunately, expected. I read Emil Zola’s masterpiece "Germinal" again recently. If nothing else, it helps us to better understand the madness immersed in the psychology of the masses. A difficult, challenging time. Corona virus time. And it does not sound so scary. When there used to be love in the age of cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez), why should there not be in the age of the corona virus. However, with COVID-19, the situation is different. The capital letters in the name of the virus look scary, and the dash and number 19 that indicate its year of origin even more so. They suggest continuity, the possibility of new strains emerging. Like the Apple iPhone series.. 4, 5, 6… 10, 11. Each new model more advanced than the last. More functional. Closer to perfection. The virus will pass, but…. as Dostoevsky once said, the most important part of a sentence comes right after that "but". The virus will pass, and life will return to normal. Or LIFE-20. In capital letters. Like COVID-19. We may not be in isolation or quarantine any more, we may not have to wear protective equipment, masks or gloves, but… nothing will be the same again. Although at first glance it will look like it is.
History teaches us that. The past. The legends. The myths.
Therefore, it is no surprise that all the epidemics in the past have changed the course of history to a greater or lesser extent. Empires were established while others disappeared under the outbreaks of the plague, cholera and many other diseases. Wars were fought or ceased, borders between countries changed, the influence of religions grew stronger…
Why should it be different this time? Changes are inevitable. The only question is whether we will be able to adapt to them in time. Will we be prepared for what is to come? Will we continue to advocate the idea that we can continue exactly where we left off? As if nothing had ever happened.
This is especially important when it comes to education. There should be a carrier of change, a leader of innovation, an incentive to step into the future. And we (the people) are the carriers of that educational process. We, the small ones, who are convinced that we successfully met the challenge of COVID-19 using online learning platforms, completely unaware that we only partially managed to bridge the gap between two points in time, between two epochs, between “before” and “after” the Corona virus. WE, the big ones who saw this situation as an opportunity to change ourselves, to change our approach to teaching, to change the way we think, to change the concept of the educational system. WE, the great ones, who finally understood Hesse’s Siddhartha when he says that “there is no such thing as teaching. There is, my friend, only one knowledge, and it is everywhere, it is the Atman, it is in me, it is in you, it is in every being. And that is why I am beginning to believe that knowledge has no greater enemy than the desire to acquire knowledge, that is, than learning”. It seems that when eventually we, the small ones realise that, we can become big or even great. We will be able to make great all those little ones for whom we have dedicated ourselves to this calling. And then everything will be much better. And much easier. And we will be fully prepared for every new, more advanced "model" of COVID, SARS, MARS etc. We will search for the knowledge that is everywhere around us, in ourselves, in every gust of wind, in every drop of rain.
We will search for knowledge, not for learning.
We will break away from the past and step into the future. We, the great ones, for the great ones.
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