In the past two months, New York City quickly became the epicenter of COVID-19 in the United States—and within N.Y., our own neighborhood has been hit especially hard! On March 16, 2020, in response to the government effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, we held our last on-site class at Queens Taekwon-Do Center before entering quarantine. By the end of that same week, we had the QTC Virtual Classroom up and running.
The teleconferencing website, ZOOM.US, has become the “King of Quarantine” in both the Unites States and around the world. As I am not the most computer savvy person, this project initially took considerable effort and determination. But in due time I was able to contact the entire QTC family through this video conferencing platform.
Three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) I host five classes throughout the day with my daughter, Sabum Claudia Suarez (V Dan). We divided the classes by rank, as much as possible, in order to facilitate the daily curriculum. In general, we have been meeting with 80 students a day across these five classes, which last one hour each.
Because our neighborhood has been suffering significantly from the effects of COVID-19, we understand the considerable financial difficulties and anxiety to cover any extracurricular activities at the moment. However, I strongly believe that maintaining an active lifestyle, communicating with friends and classmates, and upholding as normal a routine as much as possible is crucial to our getting through this difficult time. Therefore, Claudia and I have dedicated our time to continue teaching, offering this service at no cost to the students or their families. Every week we offer updates on our website, www.QTC-ITF.com, and maintain constant contact with everyone through WhatsApp and social media (i.e., Instagram and Facebook).
We are happy to see so many students participating in the classes on a regular basis. Many do not have significant space to practice at home, so there are a number of limitations and adjustments we must make. But, like our Founder, General Choi said, any place under the sky is a dojang. Most students have adapted to this new way of learning. In addition, the parents have been a great help aiding in their children’s participation.
If things continue to improve, we are scheduled to begin reopening our economy in another month. I look forward to the day I can see all the members of my extended family again. I am glad that we have been able to preserve the level of skill, as much as possible, during the time we have been apart.
I would like to extend my best wishes to all students and families, as well as the instructors and masters, here in the United States and across the world. While this tragedy has brought us all an unprecedented amount of sadness, loss and apprehension, it is fortified with many lessons in humanity, solidarity and sacrifice. Remember, we are all in this together.
Please continue to protect yourself and one another. Wash your hands, drink plenty of fluids and stay active. Stay healthy, stay home, and follow the directives of government and health officials. Give thanks to those who are working on the front lines in order to protect the rest. Together we will survive this difficult time, and in time we will all see each other again.
In the Spirit of Taekwon-Do,
Master Ruben D. Suarez
Director, Queens Taekwon-Do Center