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The virtual Fall 2020 Ohana meeting discussed the challenges and responsibilities of online teaching

John Kauwe standing in a blue and white aloha shirt smiling with greenery in the background.

The Fall 2020 Semester Ohana Meeting for staff and faculty was live streamed due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. President John S.K. Kauwe III and Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon also spoke in the meeting held on Zoom on Aug. 27.

In his speech at the event, Kauwe said, “Here at BYU–Hawaii, we have the privilege to be engaged in the Lord’s work. Our mission is to integrate both spiritual and secular learning and prepare students with character and integrity who can provide leadership in their families, their communities, their chosen fields, and building the kingdom of God.”

Kauwe said the coronavirus pandemic and other challenges facing the world today are providing “plenty of opposition.” He went on to say the purpose of opposition can be found in Doctrine and Covenants 122:5-7, which says, “If thou art called to pass through tribulation… know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”

As people pass through struggles life brings, Kauwe said, “we are well-served to follow the direction given to Oliver Cowdery in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8. ‘You must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.’”

He continued saying, “This semester we face unique challenges. COVID-19 has disrupted our standard procedures. This, along with the other challenges we already face, stands between us and the education, wellness and success of our students. We each carry the responsibility to determine how we can best facilitate the success of our students.”

Following Kauwe’s remarks, Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women's general president, spoke at the event. “Today, I am grateful for the technology that allows us to be together,” said Cordon.

“If you are like me, when 2020 began, I thought Zoom involved speeding down the highway. And now most of us can successfully navigate just about any video conference technology.

“We are living in unexpected and uncertain times. Our routines have been disrupted and social distancing encompasses our relationships. But nevertheless, we are finding new ways to gather and discovering new ways to teach and learn.”

After the event, Jeff Strain, assistant professor in the Faculty of Math & Computing, said although virtual meetings are not ideal, people need to do what they can to protect each other and keep each other safe.

“I think we all miss seeing each other and look forward to when science catches up with this pandemic and can help turn things back around so we can meet in person once again.”

Strain said he is excited to see what the future brings, “Sometimes we need to do things differently to be successful. This pandemic is making us all do things differently, and although uncomfortable at times, great things can be accomplished and learned as we become more creative in the constraints the pandemic has placed upon us.”

Spencer Ingley, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Sciences, said having the Ohana meeting virtually “wasn’t anyone’s ‘plan A’ as with most things these days.”

Ingley said he thought it was a powerful meeting and said he enjoyed President Kauwe and Sister Cordon’s talks. He said he thought it was the best it could be in a virtual platform, and “they did a really good job.”