Are You There?

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Kate Sanford


With or without cameras on, my students always feel out of reach to me. There is a screen--and a few boroughs, in some cases even states or countries--between us. I can’t tell how they’re feeling; I can’t watch their faces or their hands as they work on a piece for our writing class. The whole enterprise has started to feel epistolary. I am never sure if my recipient is going to respond, or if they’ve even received what I’ve sent them. I leave comments that may or may not be read. I send emails that sit in student inboxes, stacked between hundreds of others. In Zoom class, every question I ask feels like a million questions, and a gamble: Will you respond aloud, or will I see a response pop up in the chat? Do you need time to think? Is your internet slow? Are you there? 

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