This Q&A is the seventeenth in a 19-part series, "19 COVID-19 Stories," updated on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, diving into the unique perspectives of the Corvallis community as they face COVID-19 and all its social and economic effects.
Daniel López-Cevallos is an associate professor of Ethnic Studies and the assistant vice provost of Undergraduate Education at Oregon State University. He completed his PhD in international health and health policy at OSU in 2008, and came back to the university in 2012 as an assistant professor and associate director of research for the then newly-created Center for Latino/a Studies and Engagement.
How has your job changed since the arrival of COVID-19?
My work has changed to fully remote (i.e., working from home).
As a professor, has the transition to online coursework been difficult for you?
It was challenging. I was looking forward to teaching Migración y Salud (a class I’ve taught for many years, but would be the first time I taught it in Spanish) in-person, but the pandemic changed all that. Although I was able to make use of Canvas and Zoom to conduct class activities and interact with students, I really did miss in-person interactions and conversations.
Did you feel well-equipped to transition to online learning?
I think so. The university provided a robust set of tools for the rather swift transition to remote teaching. Both the Center for Teaching and Learning and Ecampus have plenty of experience and resources to help.
What do you miss most about in-person instruction and teaching?
As mentioned earlier, I missed in-person interactions, conversations. I am a very visual instructor, modulating my teaching by how I see the audience is responding. It was very hard to take visual cues from the screen, and even more so when students would have their cameras turned off.
As both an individual and an instructor, what has been the biggest or most difficult aspect of the COVID-19 outbreak for you?
I think the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, and our government’s response. As an international public health researcher, it has been very hard to watch how our country has performed so poorly in comparison to other high-income (and even a number of middle-income) countries.
What has been the most uplifting aspect of the outbreak, if any?
It has been uplifting to see solidarity, coalition building, and community-based efforts grow and strengthen in the absence of coordinated, consistent governmental efforts.
Anything else to add?
I would say that these are indeed very challenging times that present us with an opportunity for transformation. In the midst of a pandemic, the Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name movements have reignited the need to address systemic racism in the United States, and for a radical transformation of our communities in ways that affirm the dignity and value of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) lives, which are being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.