Community building after covid at ASM

After two years of craving human connection, social gatherings, and in-person classes, we are finally getting closer to what used to be “normal”. Back in 2019, nobody would’ve imagined the circumstances that 2020 was about to bring to us. It was devastating! We were introduced to “the new normal” world where everything became virtual and we had no option but to accept it. Covid might not sound like yesterday’s news yet, but 2022 marked the beginning of a post-pandemic era. Considering the education sector, schools across the world closed their doors and moved to online learning within days of the pandemic striking. While ASM in Italy was one of the first schools to switch to online learning, after almost two years of virtual classes and meetings, we have been eagerly waiting for things to go back to normal. We missed our community, our students, and the special feeling of being together.

A few months back (in 2021), with the implementation of new covid rules, we were finally allowed to welcome all our students back to the campus. It was a feeling of pure joy! The students were happy to reconnect with their friends and teachers after so long. Even though these two years had been challenging for us, they made us realize the importance of human connection and made us more empathetic towards each of our stories. Our parent community, like family, supported us in every step we took for the safety of our students and we’re utterly grateful for that. While 2021 allowed us to open doors for our students, 2022 finally gave us the privilege of hosting events for our community on the campus! We were able to organize Parent-Teacher Coffee Mornings, Spring concert, Art Vernissage, International Festival and other key events that are part of the ethos of ASM. It was truly amazing to see the happy faces.

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In 2020, Italy was struck first and hardest with the pandemic. Many International businesses and organizations pulled families out of Milan and back to their respective countries. Each country scrambled to deal with an unprecedented event and it strained the knot which held communities together for so long. To strengthen it again, it was important to get back together to in-person events. While we were active in hosting virtual events like parent-teacher coffee mornings, virtual Open Houses, and these worked well, it was not the same. It was clear also to teachers that optimal learning is done when students are in presence together – the opportunities to learn off one another and show empathy for one another is key to enabling students to thrive in an academic environment.

At ASM, we’ve always valued celebrations because they give us a sense of togetherness and keep our community closely knit. One of the greatest strengths of ASM is its international community. The other weekend, we hosted our “International Festival” – It’s a celebration of different cultures, community and unity. This year it meant even more as we celebrated coming together after the past two years. It was an event to bring together the best of things from our community’s respective countries. There was food from different parts of the world, “traditional” outfits, melodious music, and one thousand happy faces from 58 different nationalities. This is why we missed this event so much!

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Community spirit is what makes an educational institution strong. Now that the pandemic feels behind us, we are back in “almost” full force. We are looking at ways to reach our wider community by establishing alumni relations and hosting more events that provide our community with a sense of belonging and stability. The pandemic also forced us to think about our choices in terms of sustainability. ASM is proud to have been awarded the status of Eco-School, a seven step process which recognises environmental practices of our students. On Earth Day, April 22nd, we marked the beginning of one such project, “The Greening of ASM”, where students along with a landscape designer have created outdoor areas for outdoor classes, more trees for shade, and opportunities to learn about biodiversity.

The pandemic years haven’t been easy but we’re looking forward to a better future. The very sight of our students in the hallways, filled with laughter and joy, makes us believe that the days are getting better. We don’t know if the pandemic played a part in strengthening our community post-covid but what we know is that virtual reality can never replace the importance of human interaction! Nobody knows what the future holds, but we hope we are getting back to a “pre-pandemic normal” with “post-pandemic insights”.

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