A Humans of Majorca story May 24th 2020

By Shirley Roberts

Every part of Majorcan society and life is living their dream or should I say nightmare in the lockdown.  Beauty is all around us and the air and sea are cleaner than they have been in a generation. Benefits are promised but some have not received any money for the past two months. Life is difficult for employers and employees alike.

In the middle of all this, family life goes on. We all have a duty to protect the young, physically and emotionally. In my family group we have three young people experiencing lockdown in their own unique way because of the age they are.  These are the stories of my three granddaughter’s lockdown 2020 in Soller.

‘No I’ child is usually at the University of Sussex studying journalism. All her education at Bellver International college in Palma before heading for Brighton and pursuing ambitions towards the BBC.  Year one at Uni was all she expected it to be. She loved being in Brighton with it’s ‘London on sea’ vibe. Year two was progressing and then the lecturers were on strike for a month with lessons and contact online.  This was an irritation but in hindsight great preparation for what was just round the corner.

March 2020 was the time for her work experience with a BBC company in Brighton.  All very exciting when the sword fell and the UK joined the lockdown and normal university life ceased. Their shared house of seven made their plans to go home and live it out.   They never expected that all this time would pass before their tribe would meet again. So ‘No 1’ child got back to Majorca with a complicated story to tell.  She was on a repatriation flight amongst 9 other travellers coming home.  The BA flight was bringing a full plane back but the outward journey was on a very empty plane with the staff snoozing in the many spare seats.

Since then ‘No !’ child has been completing her end of year two, degree course, online.  One more essay to do and then it is the Uni holidays. If anyone out there has got a journalism internship going for a couple of months, please let me know and I will pass on the information.

‘No 2’ child is in a completely different place.  She too is at Bellver International college and should have been sitting her GCSE’s right now.  First exam was due last week with another last Wednesday. The mock exams had been done and this will now contribute towards the final marks for the results.  She has a formal class situation every day with registration at 9 am and a Class Zoom connection all day. Her day is spent doing school work for the full day with support and teaching from all subject teachers. Another month before the school year ends and she is not sure if she will set foot in the building before this term ends.

This is all very tough for this age group as they have been working for this point as the focus of their lives.  Decisions about A level course or other alternatives are happening in a vacuum. ‘No 2’ child misses her friends and their teenage lives.  She also misses the three times a week football practice and the matches played all over Majorca and beyond. Lack of activity drives this one mad and she has worn out the patch of grass in the garden with the constant kicking of a ball.

The anticipation of the exam results in August has been denied to this group as has their ‘sweet 16’ proms.  There will be other celebrations but this is just a fact that this generation of celebrations are going to be very different.

Now ‘No 3’ child is the last on our list and she is doing everything Port of Soller based, at the Pere Cerde School.  She has been there since she was three and in September starts her final year at this wonderful place. A small school that is growing, has been ‘No 3’ child’s delight for the past 8 years.  Her teachers and the other children are like extensions to her family.  That’s just how it is in a village school.

Lockdown school for her has been formal and organised. Check in registration at 9 am and a video chat with the teacher every day. Emails of the work set for the week and an end of week analysis of all that has been achieved.  It is a high ask for a ten-year-old to be treated like a university student but she has coped.  After the initial reluctance to see her home as school she has just got on with it. I interviewed her for this article and she said she had just missed her friends so much.  She face-times them and they catch up but she just wants to ‘hang out’.  Talking unnecessary but just being with them is the prize.

This is a unique time in our history and every person in education right now has a story to tell.   Whether this will affect their choices or encourage them to choose a different career path is unknown.  Adults have no experience of what this must be like for them and we all do the best we can to support . The lesson I learned in gathering information for this article is that relationships win every time. The work can be handled on line and in other ways but there is no substitute for human contact and friendship.

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