A Special Day – In Time of The COVID-19 Pandemic – 25 April 2020
Published on 20 June 2020
This article is part of COVID-19 Stories, a platform that gives a voice to youths in Ryde during the pandemic by sharing the experiences of Youth Ambassadors in Ryde. It records the shared similarities and challenges faced by young people to help them stay connected during this period of uncertainty and get through it together.
An Anzac Day diary entry by Youth Ambassador, Lucy Fang
It was 5:30ish, when I got up – still feeling a little groggy – for the Anzac Day Dawn Service. When we came out onto the driveway holding candles at 6 am, the autumn air was cool and crisp, and the sky was dim with a soft pinkish hue above the horizon. No neighbours were out yet; it was still the quiet of the morning. Dad turned the phone’s volume down to the lowest bar to play the Queensland RSL’s recording of the Dawn Service. It started with the Acknowledgement of Country, then The Ode recited by RSL Queensland President, and then the Last Post played by the Australian Army Band Brisbane, followed by a one-minute silence.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Today was a very special day. I’d decided to cook all the meals for my parents to celebrate it, and to thank them for their unconditional love and support for me all these years. I spent nearly an hour reading and choosing recipes, the overflow of information online left me feeling a bit disorientated. By the time I delivered the chef-in-training dishes of semi-French pancakes and fried Chinese dumplings, it was already mid-morning and my parents were starving!
I served lunch in a more timely manner, at 2 pm, with Japanese cold soba noodles and roasted salmon marinated with Korean miso paste. My parents loved the dishes, and I loved the fact that I could conveniently make mouth-watering international cuisines, living in one of Sydney’s most diverse communities (we even found an Indian grocery shop near First Avenue and bought one of our all-time favourite DVDs there - The Three Idiots!).
After lunch, my cautious dad went to the shops with my shopping list, not letting me go with him. We ended up messaging each other back and forth to decide the flowers I wanted to get for my old teacher/mentor, Mr C. Tomorrow would be his wedding anniversary. They’re a charismatic and highly intelligent elderly Polish couple whom I have enormous respect for.
Initially I thought I’d have a day off, just enjoying cooking and resting my eyes (I had to use eye-drops daily for my weary eyes during online schooling). But going through my calendar made me realise it wouldn’t be possible until the end of HSC. So, I did bits and pieces of study in between my cooking (I also managed to squeeze in some fun K-pop dancing following the YouTube videos). Before I realised it, the sky was already turning dark grey, with the momentary splendour of the magical sunset glow. It was time for our deliveries.
The first trip was to Mr C’s home. When we got there, the lovely colonial-style house was already lit up inside. Remembering that Mr C mentioned they’d dress up for dinners with different themes each day during this long iso-period, I smiled, what fun it must be. They would surely have a great day tomorrow even without any family and friends joining them. Placing the flowers and a bottle of wine on the front veranda, I went back to our car before surprising them over the phone. I wanted to ensure absolute social-distancing. To this day they’re still working non-stop to contribute to local and global communities. A sense of gratitude and pride filled in me, thinking that I had a great mentor like Mr C.
The next delivery was in Hornsby for Women’s Community Shelters. My school had notified us that the shelters needed more pre-prepared meals and also colouring-in books for at-risk children arriving at the shelters. It was really sad, thinking of their plight.
Turned out the address we arrived at wasn’t a shelter. The house belonged to a kind lady who was helping at the shelters. Her lovely daughter came out and instructed us to put food and kids’ stuff on the table under the carport. We then waved goodbye, keeping our distance the whole time. Seeing the donations stacked high on the table and around, I felt hopeful that with the whole community’s care and support behind them, the women suffering life’s adversities would remain strong in the face of tough challenges, for themselves, and for their children.
On the way back, dad had to rush to the office to fix some emergency, so I stayed in the car to finalise the agenda for our Young Entrepreneurs Society's leadership meeting at 8 pm. It was already 7 o’clock, 3 leaders still hadn’t responded to the meeting notification after repeated emails from the secretary.
How to be a good leader? Working the hardest was essential, but to me, this alone wasn’t enough. How to lead the others effectively, especially volunteers? I wasn’t too sure. There’s so much for me to learn. But nonetheless I decided to send out a strong message to all, informing them that I had important agenda to talk about, that I expected everyone to be at the meeting after we had moved it several times to suit everyone, and that they should re-consider about holding leadership positions if they’re absent twice without advance notice.
I wanted to help them see what I saw and be motivated to act upon it. The pandemic and its devastating consequences made me realise again how important it is to prepare us and younger generations with an entrepreneurial mindset – to be creative, communicative, self- motivated to succeed, yet open to risk and failure. I planned to promote entrepreneurial education proactively on campus once Term 2 started, hoping that many more girls could benefit from our learning programs.
We had only one absence tonight, a big improvement from last time’s eleven! The meeting went smoothly, and the girls were enthusiastic about the initiatives. Some immediately started drafting their action plans. It’s always a joy working with the self-motivated and committed team members.
After a very late but delicious dinner - thanks to mum who came to the rescue and cooked us our favourite Thai-style fried-chicken noodles - I took a quick break to visit my ‘long-time-no-see’ Facebook friends’ updates. A memory piece from three years ago by Y – an amazing young lady and my childhood role model - popped up:
‘…my high school sweetheart asked me, and I said yes!!! I've known J since I was 12. I met him for the first time in English, first period on the first day of high school. It was definitely not love at first sight (I thought he was a nerd), but I would have never guessed that this is where we would end up. I have now known him for more than half my life.... I'm so happy you asked me out using an iPod Touch because there were too many students around on the school oval. I love you so much…’
Their story was like a fairy-tale, but not without its ups and downs, tears and heartaches. They later married in a rush, at the hospital bedside of her beloved stepfather who had worked tirelessly to support the family and treated her like his own (while the birth father chose to be distant and absent for most of her growing-up). The kind and talented stepfather who was well liked by everyone died soon after – yet to reach the age of fifty - in peace and content, knowing the two women he loved with his life would be in good hands and well looked after.
Y and J are now young professionals doing very well in their respective fields, living happily ever after.
I rubbed my eyes and moved on to finish redrafting/shorten the statements to fit our Entrepreneurs Society FB page until I finally got it:
Vision: A world in which every girl/young woman thrives as leaders and change makers.
Mission: To teach students critical 21st-century skills and nurture an entrepreneurial mindset valuable for study, work, and lifelong learning.
It was nearly midnight. Turning the lights off, I felt content that I had a special and productive day on Anzac Day 2020, even in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
About Lucy Fang
LLucy is a 17-year-old who grew up in Ryde and attends Pymble Ladies’ College on an academic scholarship. She loves reading, music, and the arts. In 2019, she was awarded Miss Granny Smith Festival Queen for her great efforts and contributions to the community over the years. She believes that 'in helping others, we help ourselves'.