In March 2020, in-person tai chi classes in New York State were stopped cold by the Covid pandemic, and a similar impact occurred across the United States and the world. Almost immediately, I transitioned my in-person classes to virtual using Zoom. Though there were some bumps along the way, for the most part, the transition was relatively easy, and our classes continued without interruption. As weeks passed, it became clear that many tai chi instructors were interested in making a similar transition but were looking for some help to do so. And so it happened that I found myself volunteering to put together basic training to help my colleagues get started using Zoom.
With the help of fellow board member, Terry Crews, we held Basic Zoom 101 type training sessions with just under 100 members between July 2020 and March 2021. Our classes were designed to include about 8-10 participants and structured to give them hands-on experience using Zoom while we were present to lend a hand if they got stuck. The rewards for our efforts were messages from participants that they had begun teaching via Zoom and were enjoying resuming their tai chi classes. One participant even told us that she had impressed her grandchildren with her new Zoom skills!
As difficult and challenging as the Covid pandemic has been, there have been unexpected benefits. As we have all become more familiar with virtual classes, the opportunities have increased to study with teachers who are geographically distant. While staying safe and socially distant in my home in New York, I have learned from teachers in Ohio, California, Minnesota, and Australia! I look forward to resuming in-person classes when it is safe, but I suspect that the benefits of virtual classes will continue long past Covid. And that seems like an unexpected and positive development to have come from a global pandemic.