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Are We Out of the Woods?

A place of our own

Man reading from his agenda

As we cautiously move into the routine activities of this summer and try to return to a new, or old, normal, quite a few questions face us as academics about the upcoming autumn term: Will my university resume all its face-to-face functions? Will I be teaching a remote, a hybrid, or an in-person class and again experience the typical campus life I have been missing for so many months?  

Those of us who have family members with higher-risk health conditions, or ourselves fall into this group, will be asking a different set of questions: Am I putting my loved one in greater risk by walking into a classroom where vaccinated and unvaccinated students will be undistinguishable? How do I know  that I have a student in my class who has been exempted from vaccine requirements of my university? Which of my colleagues are vaccinated in those cramped meeting rooms? Which close contact should I avoid and how should I tell them why distance is still my best choice? What disclosures should I make and which secrets must remain what they always have been? Our junior colleagues have even more to worry about. Will my chances of attaining tenure in this department diminish, if I share with my chair that taking care of my ill family member is a higher priority for me than sitting on another committee at this time?

We can also imagine that our students are asking the same questions about their professors: Does my university also require professors to be vaccinated? Can I comfortably ask my professors about such a controversial yet personal medical issue? How do I know if my lab partner received a vaccine? The ambiguities of this phase of COVID-19 will probably remain ambiguities long after we have lived through this phase of the pandemic.

Whatever the answers to these questions are and whatever COVID-19 unravels in front of us over the summer months, we, here at the Bulletin, wish all of you a safe and happy autumn semester.

Amidst all the uncertainties and fatigue of this 18-month-old pandemic, Mikel and I have eked out a spring issue of the Bulletin. We must acknowledge the work of our contributing authors in these trying months when everything seems to be moving either very slowly or hard to keep up with, while remaining optimistic about what looks like the semblance of recovery.

The highlight of this issue is an announcement from our western region ABC vice president, Jolanta Aritz, about the 2022 Western ABC Conference. As you read it, you will realize that our western region membership definitely has something to look forward to next winter in the not-so-far North Shore of Hawaii.

Scott Springer, Ann Springer, and Spencer Scanlan’s study of the cover letters by international students should interest all our readers because its findings might move some of us to rethink our teaching strategies for cover letters and résumés. Erin Paradis talks about our region’s new initiative on a speaker series which we would expect our membership to try out in the coming semester. Emily Carlson Goenner’s case is an extremely useful library of suggestions for teaching the application of social media tools. Jenny Morse’s Listening and Non-Verbal Activities for the COVID Classroom will remain useful long after this pandemic is over.

We hope that you enjoy this issue before you hurl yourself into your summer activities. We also want to acknowledge the support of our reviewers who contributed their expertise at a very hectic time in the spring term. Sushil thanks his boys for serving as the sounding board for this editorial. Mikel and I send our best wishes for the coming months.

Sushil Oswal
Editor, the Western ABC Bulletin

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