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Weaving Through The Present And Future Challenges Brought By The Pandemic

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April 1, 2021, 1:54 p.m.

What does ‘resilience’ mean for us as individuals, Ghanaians, and global citizens? This was part of questions extensively deliberated on during the Science Cafe. Last month, Global Lab Network a knowledge exchange, and networking platform partnered with Ghana STEM Network to host the virtual edition of Science Cafe on the theme “Building Individual and Collective Resilience Beyond the COVID-19 Crisis.

The knowledge-sharing platform featured season speakers; Ato Ulzen-Appiah, Evelyn Agyepong, Dr. Thomas Tagoe, Solomon Appekey, and Cecil Senna Nutakor who thoroughly reflected examined, and digested, the notion of resilience in a time of profound global change. An imagination of what the future might look like post-pandemic was vividly painted in the minds of the listeners through the insightful discussions.

During the discussion, Ato Ulzen-Appiah of the Ghana Think Foundation sighted an example of how Ernest Tsifodze, who does a lot of work around motivational speaking, was able to go virtual, bringing people across Ghana together online for continued impact. Ato further stated that more people need to share how they have been able to cope with the pandemic to increase knowledge and awareness on how other individuals can do the same. He asserted that, amid the pandemic, people who want to get things done will find a way to get it done irrespective of the current crisis, citing examples of Accra Konnect and Kumasi Konnect, as responses to the challenge of physical meetups.

Evelyn Agyepong shared some personal and global perspectives on the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to her thematic question ‘, what has the crisis changed?’ Evelyn asked, `What hasn’t it changed. She discussed the challenges she faced as a leader and an educator in including new technologies in teaching and the accompanying personal stresses in connecting with family and loved ones. In sharing her coping mechanisms with us, Evelyn disclosed that she engaged in science education with the public to increase knowledge on the virus and best practices to avoid its spread and connected with her family online through video calls and online games.

Dr. Thomas Tagoe who is a Neuroscientist, Science Communicator, and Co-founder of GhScientific, discussed resilience from a neuroscience angle. Among the key points he touched on how to cope and subsequently thrive during the COVID included:

Acceptance; accepting that we may not be able to go back to the old way of doing things and usual outputs may have to be adjusted. Research has shown that by coming to terms with whatever context one finds themselves in, it is easier for new patterns and behaviors to develop.

Considering motivation and linking that with a cognitive approach; behavioral change occurs within people along with two angles, the motivational element which involves the will to change, and the more cognitive approach which deals with the how. This includes finding alternative approaches to achieving goals.

Community building; The mere idea of knowing that someone else is in the same situation you are in makes one feel better and helps with dealing with acceptance. It makes adjusting to new situations easier on the mind.

Cognitive control;” People who have cognitive control can connect goals with actions”. He averred that it may seem obvious but our brains and our mental wellbeing are such that anything we are capable of is broken into the minimum components. Connecting actions to goals is most critical for well-being because mental health is the basis for resilience.

Following through, Dr. Thomas Tagoe, Solomon Appekey of the Ghana Planetarium, and X Space Solutions gave us an eye-opening presentation by taking us back 100 years on how the universe developed. Solomon discussed how the universe developed and explored the lessons we can learn from the growth in astronomical developments and how those lessons can be helpful during the current crisis.

Cecil Senna Nutakor joined us to share his views on some personal benefits of the pandemic. In his words “why the pandemic was super cool”, he lamented how it had to take the occurrence of a pandemic to step up leadership in the country. According to him, the pandemic has drawn the government’s attention to infrastructural development, and the need to upgrade education (investing in digital) and health systems. In his recommendations on how we can forge ahead, he proposed an inclusive process in the policymaking process, a bottom-up approach in tackling the current crisis, and fostering continued growth.

Other agencies that supported the event were GhScientific and Digital Times Africa which attracted 36 participants from different fields of endeavor.

In conclusion, the Global Lab Network called out for individuals interested in sharing research or STEM-based projects at a future Science Cafe. Individuals can do so using this link.

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Verny Joy Author

Verny loves to write poetry, fiction and quotes. Her love for writing landed her in journalism. She loves gadgets and travelling to explore new places.

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