Inside the life of an asynchronous Tolog

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Claire Ding

In this shot from a video she shared on morning announcements, Claire Ding ’21 gets supplies for Mr. Buxman’s Physics class.

As the ASB Boarding Council president, a Kairos leader and a member of the Urban Dance Crew, senior Claire Ding is certainly involved with life on the Hill. At the start of the first Covid-19 shutdown, Ding, like many other boarding students, went home. Ding has been living in her hometown of Qingdao, China, since then, but she uses many strategies, like recording short clips of her life that are included in the morning announcements, to stay connected to the FSH community. 

Living more than 6,000 miles away with a 16-hour time difference has its challenges. The Shield spoke with Ding to get insight into how she’s navigating life as an asynchronous Tolog. 

Do the videos that you create for morning announcements help you feel closer to your friends that you can’t see?

To be honest, at first, the videos didn’t really make me feel like I’m getting any closer to [friends]. But then some of my [classmates and friends] texted me, and they tell me, “Oh! I love this so much,” and some teachers email me about it as well. When I see this I’m so happy that you guys liked it, and it really encourages me and gives me a lot of support and confidence. I try to make it fun and create something new every day for you guys to watch. 

What are some of the better parts of asynchronous learning?

I think it’s been going pretty well for me because I don’t really need to be in class at the same time every day and I can just watch the recordings whenever I’m available.

What would you say is the most difficult part about asynchronous learning? 

I don’t feel like I’m involved in the class discussion and all of the class activities. And sometimes we have peer editing and other activities, which is kind of hard for me to participate in. But the good thing is that the teachers are all really nice and they allow me to do those in-class activities and submit them as soon as I can. 

Have you been able to go to a few of your classes/activities on Zoom? 

Before [daylight savings time], I actually was able to attend one Academic Decathlon because it happens at 10 p.m. here in China. But after [daylight saving time]. everything starts from 11 until 4 in the morning. It’s hard for me to stay awake at that time, so I don’t attend any synchronous classes. 

It seems that there are a lot fewer cases of the coronavirus where you live in China than there are here in the US. Could you elaborate on the Covid-19 restrictions where you live? 

My mom is a doctor in a hospital, and they get super stressed when they just have one case. In my hometown, we had two cases and the 8 million people that live there had to get tested in order to stop the spread. China can handle those things pretty well because government regulation is really strict. And also another thing is that we have a different way of thinking because in China there’s an old saying that life is the most important thing, and you should sacrifice your life for the benefit of the whole country. But I know for Americans, freedom is the most important thing to them.

Are you hoping to return to school this year?

Although I miss my friends and teachers back in America, I don’t think I’ll be able to return back to school. At the same time, I’m grateful for the opportunity to finally celebrate my parents’ birthdays and my birthday at home with my parents.

Has the community feeling of Sacred Heart stayed with you despite being in a different country?

Yes, the community feeling has definitely stayed with me. I have weekly meetings with ASB and Boarding Council. Sometimes, teachers will reach out to me and check in on me. I’m also in contact with my friends, both in China and in the U.S.