By RAINIEL FIGUEROA and AUBREY SHANE LIM
AFTER AN almost-three-year pause, seniors of the UST journalism program return to campus to begin their limited in-person classes and reunite with their friends and blockmates.
Batch 2023 journalism students attended the program’s first on-site Broadcast Journalism class on Thursday, Sept. 22., at the Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. (BGPOP) Building.
This is the first class in the Faculty of Arts & Letters that was held face-to-face since the University’s move to the virtual campus.
“The last time I went to UST to attend face-to-face classes, I was still a freshie,” said journalism senior Stephanie Rimas, adding that their return to the university felt “strangely nostalgic.”
Batch 2023 was the last batch of Thomasians to experience campus life before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the following batches have been taking their classes online through the University’s enriched virtual mode of instruction.
Rimas felt like she had to make the most of the face-to-face experience, especially since she is already in her last year of college.
“Though I’m already in my senior year, I also have the sophomore and junior student in me who wasn’t able to experience F2F classes,” she told The Flame.
These sentiments were echoed by her blockmate Alodia Berzel Laguardia, who did not expect to experience face-to-face classes once again before her graduation.
“I never really expected to be back in my last year in UST since we still have the pandemic going on, but overall, I felt excited. At least I still have a few months to maximize my stay in UST,” she said.
An ‘emotional’ reunion
Happiness was evident on the faces of the seniors as they reunited with their blockmates while waiting for their class’s scheduled studio tour on the 12th floor.
Following health protocols, the class was divided into two. While one batch was in the 12th-floor studio, the other would wait in a designated classroom on the 11th floor.
Laguardia recalled the moment she first entered the classroom on that day, greeted by her blockmates’ excited squeals.
“The first time we saw each other, we were still very young. Now, we look more mature,” she said, adding that seeing each other in the flesh once again felt “very emotional”.
Sofia Valderama told The Flame that reuniting with her blockmates evoked a “different feeling,” considering that this is their final year in the University.
“Although we already met each other face-to-face way back when we were still freshies, the feeling is different now that we saw each other in our final year in UST,” she said.
She also missed the bustling corridors of UST and students exiting their classrooms during dismissal, Valderama added.
“We didn’t really experience that yesterday as we were the only block in the Journalism program who did a face-to-face class,” she said, adding that she misses the “noise of fellow Artlets”.
Ready for F2F?
While Artlets continue to call for a return to on-site classes, the ongoing pandemic remains a prominent cause of worry.
Rimas, for instance, noted that despite the gradual easing of health protocols, the pandemic is still a point of concern.
“There are still possibilities of getting infected,” Rimas said.
She also thought that it is too “early to comment” on whether or not the University is ready for a full return to face-to-face classes.
“We’re only starting, so I think we’ll have to observe what will happen in this limited F2F,” she said.
However, she believes that the gradual implementation of limited face-to-face classes will help in deciding the “next step” to proceed with full on-site classes.
Valderama also noted that while she thinks the University is capable of a return to full face-to-face classes, a “return to the normal” does not seem possible as of now.
“We are still in a pandemic, the virus is still there so even though everything seems to be going back to normal, health protocols should still be followed,” she said.
She hopes that the administration would also keep in mind the safety of the students upon their return to the campus.
“I hope the administration could ensure the presence of guards and police patrols outside [the campus],” she said.
The seniors of the journalism program were the first students from the Faculty of Arts and Letters since the pandemic to experience a class in a limited face-to-face setting.
The program was the first among the 13 AB programs to receive permission to conduct limited in-person classes. F