My name is Jasmine Wong. I'm from Hong Kong, but for the past five years, I've been studying abroad in the UK. I've just graduated from high school, and I’m going to be in Paris in a month for university.
Being a senior during the pandemic felt distant, in a way. You can’t see your friends, you have online classes— which for me, were only around 30 minutes long… I didn’t feel like I was getting anything done, and I couldn’t graduate the way I would've wanted to. I'm sure that’s a common sentiment for anyone in the class of 2020. It’s unfortunate that we all had to graduate and celebrate within the confines of our own homes. Although, I will say, at the start of quarantine, it was kind of a relief to have a break. School is always so hectic, and I don't think I caught a break since A-levels started. So in that respect, it was nice getting the chance to do things on my own time, not having to worry about the stress of rushing between classes, writing essays at night, working on applications…
A friend told me about the virus back in December, and I just thought, oh my god, she is being so dramatic. But looking back, I think we all should’ve taken it more seriously. It was around late-March to early-April when my parents told me I had to come home from the UK. I was so shocked. At the start of April, every hour, something would change— like how we were going to do our A-levels, for example. Just experiencing all of that uncertainty was when the severity of COVID-19 really hit me.
I remember seeing my friends leave the UK, and some people were saying things like, “what if we never get to see each other again?” as a joke. I thought that what they were saying was so ridiculous, because I thought I would definitely be back in a week or two weeks after break— but I was wrong.
Once I returned to Hong Kong, I did a 14-day quarantine. It was surreal. I remember waking up everyday, and wondering if I just dreamt that there was a pandemic going on.
I was actually originally meant to go to Paris to start university on September 1st, but that was pushed back to mid-October. Because everything is developing so rapidly, I’m not sure what changes are going to be made to my education as of right now. I hope classes don’t go online, because I’m studying fashion design, which would be extremely difficult to learn virtually. I know that cases are going up in Paris, so I am a little worried about that, too.
While the start of quarantine was kind of nice, it soon developed into having not-so great mental health. Because I’m someone who normally lives a pretty fast-paced life, it’s super abnormal for me to be at home all-day long.
I’ve always wanted to do a project that was charity-based, while also incorporating some sort of creative involvement. Additionally, throughout the past year, I had been talking to my friend about wanting to start this project, and he reminded me about it again during the start of the pandemic. We spent hour-long phone calls brainstorming how to bring this project to life. We were thinking about doing talks and exhibitions… but we ended up thinking that a photo-book would be the best option. We wanted it to be a global thing, so we knew that talks and exhibitions were kind of limited virtually. Soon, the Class of 2O2O was born.
Class of 2O2O is a creative charity initiative. It’s a shared platform for Gen Z to express their ideas and their works, in hopes of articulating what is possible during (hopefully temporary) turbulent times. Since it is a global effort, I wanted everyone that was involved to be able to connect on a virtual level to experience a sense of togetherness. Right now, a lot of people are stuck at home, so creating a space where they could feel more comfortable sharing their work and expressing their ideas seemed essential at a time like this.
Ironically, I have met more people in the confines of my own home than outside of it through Class of 2O2O. Coming from a very academic school, I’ve never really had many creative friends, so it’s been amazing getting to know so many different creative people. The Class of 2O2O kept me from drowning in my own thoughts and has allowed me to feel like I am a part of something bigger— and I hope that this is the case for everyone involved.
I also didn’t want this project to be exclusive in any way whatsoever. We just published our Class of 2O2O zine, and oftentimes, zines tend to be exclusive to creatives who have a more tangible medium. I wanted to be inclusive towards all sorts of people, including those who did podcasts, anyone with interesting stories they wanted to share, influencers, activists… In essence, Class of 2O2O is for young people to get together and show each other that they’re not alone, so it makes sense that everyone should be included.
100% of the proceeds of our zine go to COVID-19 relief funds and the Black Lives Matter movement. More specifically, it goes to Global Giving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund and to the Equal Justice Initiative, who does work for marginalized communities, especially people who may have been wronged by justice systems.
My initial intention for Class of 2O2O was for it to last throughout just this summer, but the influx of people who are submitting their work and the growth of the Class of 2O2O community may carry us forward. However, I’m not sure how realistic continuing would be, especially seeing as I’m starting uni quite soon and will probably be very busy. I think the question of continuing is something that only time can tell.
My friend actually came up with the name Class of 2O2O. It had a nice ring to it, and it just felt right. I do feel like a lot of people misunderstand our title, and assume that this initiative is solely for the class of 2020. But I think Class of 2O2O is more of a metaphorical thing— Gen Z and people in general are going to graduate this year together. There is a lot to learn from this year, even though it has been anything but easy.
Written by: Natasha Leong
Check out the Class of 2O2O's website, zine, and instagram (@the.classof2020)!