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#FADfest20 HDR Moments

Rethinking & Reimagining Research during a pandemic

2020 is a year that has challenged our usual routines and disrupted the way we live, work, study and research! While the ongoing ambiguity of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, many of us faced challenges on many fronts and responded in the most natural way – because nobody is immune to a global pandemic, and the defining moments of sustained stress!

There’s no doubt many of us had our own stories and moments. These could be moments of overcoming adversity, demonstrating how resilient and resourceful we are, stories of achievement or moments that we felt depleted, disconnected or vulnerable. Regardless, they have helped us reflect on who we are as an individual and a community.

Continuing our tradition on ‘HDR Moments’, FAD HDR students were warmly invited to submit a write-up/statement (no more than 150 words) sharing their stories/moments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Viewers are invited to vote for their favourite story/moment below, with the following prizes up for grabs:

1st Prize – $100 worth Uber Eats e-gift card

2nd Prize – $50 worth Uber Eats e-gift card

3rd Prize – $25 worth Uber Eats e-gift card

2020 'HDR Moments' Entrants


Masks! Cloth masks! Lots of them! Well, maybe only 40. Sometime into the Covid-19 shutdown – when I’d lost all sense of time – my sister asked me to make some cloth masks for her. Hey, I’m researching clothing and textile sustainability and re-usable masks should be more sustainable than single-use ones, so I make some masks for her – and some for myself and my family. And I tell my brother that I’ve been busy making masks – so then I have to make some for him and his wife. And a friend mentions that she would like some. I eke out my dwindling elastic supply – I bought 5 metres early on but there isn’t much left and most shops have run out. I receive five metres that someone ordered for me online. Another relative sends me ten metres. So I can keep making masks. Anyone want a mask?



I started a PhD study this year just prior to the pandemic. I decided to research the impact of gender balance in Facility Management because I want to effect change in my profession. Many people thought I was crazy because I am a mother of two young children and work full time as Maintenance Manager. I admit that when COVID-19 lockdowns hit Australia, it was overwhelming. It made me doubt whether I could continue with the research while juggling home schooling and the challenges of COVID-19 at work. I also have family in Colombia going through tougher times. Despite the uncharted situations, I remain enthusiastic. My personal remarks are that I spent quality time with my children and husband. I have managed to continue with my studies and delivered my work flexibly. My advice is to never give up, seek help where needed and look after yourself and your family.



In the time of panic, I failed to comprehend the value of toilet paper. Or sanitiser. My hands are washed constantly, a personal phobia, not a Herod complex. Have I no imagination? My mind cast nets all over the place trying to catch at something about which to panic. I tried out bread, but there wasn’t a run on the Spence bakery. Besides, there were approximately five billion recipes for sourdough kindly shared online. I thought I hit on it, the next big panic item, at least twice until I realised that peas, canned or frozen were not universal favourites, and the can of Ajax has years of powder left. The bottom only slightly rusted, not sticking to the shelf. Iain said that there was plenty of Spam at Woolies. To keep strong to zoom-write and establish my membership of the herd, a can of Spam was panic bought. Small.



Another day began. I thought pandemic will slow the time on account of the misery having to be couped up with three kids at home. Nah, it did not happen. Days are flying like crazy, and I have suddenly become a full-time teacher of various grades and research student at once. I am aware that I must write, and I do acknowledge my responsibility as a parent, but how to do both? I know!!! Let us all use the “Pomodoro technique”. Kids are excited. I guess they like structure too. Twenty-five minutes starts now! Five minutes later, Umar asks “How much more, Mum?”. Hush! I could hear music blasting into Ismeta’s ears. “Deep breath and focus, you can do it”. Ahhhh, does Jusuf really needs to type so loudly? I give up. Who would like some pancakes?



2020 is so special and remarkable to me. I got my visa to return to Canberra for study later than expected and promptly got enrolled in the required unit for Semester 1 just several days before Census Day. It is really challenging for me to be back to school after 20 years when I have a family with two teenage sons to take care of all by myself. I was on campus for one month and then it became virtual due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was an unprecedented situation that my sons and I had to study from home during the restriction time. I got depressed and isolated because our relatives and friends were all far from us. However, I overcome such a difficult time thanks to practicing meditation daily, getting myself busy with my study and gradually finishing my first academic year with fruitful results. It is really an unforgettable memory!



During lockdown I helped with home school. Xavier and I would spend our breaks soaking up the sun in the courtyard. We watched ants collect crumbs dropped from endless slices of toast. The busy little ants hauled those crumbs down into their nests. Sometimes, we fed the ants sugar and did experiments by timing how long it would take for them to move a pile. Occasionally we played cruel Gods, wiping out their scent trails or putting tiny rocks in their paths. We wondered about how they lived and worked together. We learnt a lot about ants online and through observation. Xavier wrote a story titled ‘Amazing Ants’. I was outraged to learn that male ants spend their days sitting around waiting for the hard-working females to bring them food. Xavier thought that was a good life. There is a moral to this story, but I only have 150 words.



It was another perfect day in Covid land. At 8.59 am kids were already logged into their Google class rooms for another exciting day of remote learning. Both my kids are primary schoolers, but they have this amazing inborn skill to self-manage home learning without any parental supervision. Both me and my partner logged into our zoom meetings knowing that we won’t be disturbed by our children and we could work for as long as we like. Only coffee/ bathroom breaks were needed. Working from home, while home schooling kids and researching for PhD felt like the best thing that happened in 2020!……….. I opened my eyes and the reality hit me! Another dreadful day having to zoom in for meetings, hide PJs under a work shirt, teach online, home school two 7 & 10-year olds, wash hands every 20 minutes, and panic buy but pretend I didn’t.  It was exhausting yet, memorable! When life gives you Coronavirus, well…. make your own hand sanitizer!!



‘Aa ha – I got it’ – an ‘aa ha’ moment of my PhD journey in 2020! 2020 is the year of my transformation from a feeling of ‘Waiting for Godot’ to this very exciting moment. I got examiner reports back after exactly six months with very good feedback. Being ‘unofficially’ locked down and working on a virtual campus, I did not have much to expect because this situation is not applied only to me but to the whole world where the very ‘unknown’ examiners do exist. The hardest part of the year is to keep my expectations alive. I think I am one of a very few fortunate PhD candidates who could reach to this moment in 2020. My hopes finally touched base. Thus 2020 was not all about despair but of resilience for looking forward to the future, and there will be light at the end of the tunnel.



I was making fun to my family that I will not be coming to visit them in this year 2020 but they were forcing me to come. Soon COVID-19 Pandemic starts and then I realize that even now I wish to visit them, I cannot. I would call it irony…Before COVID-19 I always look myself as a person who love to be alone, and my best friend is ME… But…That is not true... I realize that I am a kind of person who love to mingle and need a company. I was not able to write something and could not even enjoy my food alone. This year 2020 gives me a realization that family and friends are the important part of the life. It also makes me realize that having a circle of helping people around you are a blessing. I hope this Pandemic end soon!



Dear 2020, how do I adore thee? Let me count the ways …I like you: Zoom statement headwear (that lecturer wears a beanie?), lockdown logo t-shirts ...I like you not: Panic, building closures, filing systems dismantled to cart books and papers home ...I like you: Zoom dog introductions, mic-on mishaps (“Have you done a wee, sweetie?”) ...I like you not: Books and papers slipping at makeshift table desk, begging ratty toddler for just 10 more TV minutes...I like you: Campus opening is revealed, dreams of clear-desk thinking space ...I like you not: Books and papers rearranged (where did I put that paper??), thesis inching forward like treacle...I like you: A slow path re-emerging, new networks (real and screen)



Living thousands of miles away from our parents, this ‘unknown enemy’ totally blurred mine and wife’s dreams of seeing our parents during the Sri Lankan New Year period. Disappointment of not physically seeing us during the New Year made my parents masters in using FaceTime and Zoom. Me and my wife as regular unplanned travellers had to unpack the luggage and patiently watch what Netflix had to offer us. I became a pro in cooking few traditional dishes while my wife became good at training her apprentice. I who totally believe in face to face collaboration in design projects had to train my eye in inspecting sites via zoom. Turning these challenging times in to an opportunity in helping the people, my proposal to investigate the ‘Post COVID workplace strategies’ won a research grant. The story that I will be chanting in future to my unborn kids. Remember, ‘History Repeats’…


Voting will be open from 12am (AEDT) Monday 9 November 2020 to 12pm (AEDT) Friday 13 November 2020.

Winners will be announced at the end of the final HDR seminar on Friday 13 November 2020.

Invite your family and friends to vote for their favourite 'HDR Moment', and show your support to our FAD HDR community!