If I had to summarize the year 2020 in one phrase, it would have to be – ‘the resilient human spirit’! Our inter-connected world came to a standstill when COVID-19 threw all the human efficiencies off-track. From complete lockdowns to social distancing, the world experienced a change of unprecedented magnitude.

Amidst these uncertain times, my acceptance into the Master of Science in Global Health (MSGH) program at the University of Geneva came as an opportunity to understand and address the health-ecosystem inadequacies and foster a holistic solution, which is especially evident in the concerted efforts of multiple stakeholders in tackling COVID-19.

This transdisciplinary program started in September with a hybrid model of learning, combining in-person and online delivery of coursework. With my delayed visa processing, it was a relief as it gave me the opportunity to continue my courses along with the visa process in India. The crisis presented itself as a unique opportunity to learn with a real-world experience and generate impactful solutions in the field of Global Health. The transdisciplinary nature of the courses provided me with a deep insight into the holistic model of disease progression and outcomes in any community, national and international. The hybrid approach was entirely new to some of us and to some of the professors. Being flexible and fast learners, we were not only able to master this model of learning but also take its advantage. The main positive outcome of this approach was that no matter where we were and no matter the time zone, we were all connected at the same time.

The airports had changed to a ‘new normal’ mode of functionality. I experienced this while flying halfway across the world, back to Switzerland with two kids. The flight was an even more unnatural experience with wearing a mask all through the flight, limited contact with the flight crew and precautionary new rules for the food and beverages served inflight to prevent cross-contamination.

Switzerland, which was usually bustling with a diverse community of people, had an air of tension on the streets with fewer people along the riviere and closed down non-essential shops. Having previously lived in Switzerland, the difference was apparent. With a lot of the events and conferences taking place via online mode, it provided us and many others around the world to network virtually. I believe, it was an advantage of having to visit more than one conference in a day taking place in two very different time zones around the world.

As the first semester comes to a close, I have seen us grow into a close-knit community of students from across nationalities and professors online, taking our success stories forward with each other. This year had tested each and every one of us in our own ways and in our own capacities. The human spirit has always fought on no matter the circumstances. I would call this year – the year of change, innovation, resilience and of resolve.
To end this note on an optimistic remark, no matter the measures of social distancing and masks (which we all diligently followed), us, humans always find a way to show our social nature. To illustrate this, some pictures from our final classes of the semester, where we unanimously decided to share our gratitude to our professors in our own native language.

I wish for everyone a happier 2021 with an even brighter spirit within!