Apprenticeships Under COVID-19:
Checking in with Jenny Bawer Young and Terry Bautista
ACTA's 2020 Apprenticeships have been in full swing despite the onset of COVID-19 in California. Our mentor-apprentice pairs have been finding creative and safe ways to continue their one-on-one training throughout the year. Some have made the decision to form a social bubble together, limiting contact with people outside their bubble to ensure each other's safety. Others have been meeting in person with masks and social distancing, while others have taken their training online through Zoom and other online convening platforms.
Mentor artist Jenny Bawyer Young (pictured, left), for example, has been meeting virtually with her 2020 apprentice Teresita "Terry" Kataag Bautista (right) to continue their work together learning the music and chants of the Kalinga province of the Philippines that traditionally accompany Kalinga laga weaving sessions. In the photo above, Jenny and Terry show some of the bamboo instruments that are part of the Kalinga tradition from their homes in Castro Valley and Oakland. We asked the duo how their apprenticeship has unfolded over the course of the pandemic:
What was the transition to online learning like for you?
Jenny: The transition to online learning was quite challenging and awkward, especially if you aren't familiar or the best at using technology. A lot of people like me are also camera shy.
What are some of the benefits and challenges of online learning?
Jenny: The benefits of online learning definitely outweigh the challenges. You save a lot of time because you don't need transportation to get places, it is just one Zoom call away. With online learning, it is also easier to access materials, with the click of a button. The challenges with online learning mostly come with the delay of the internet in technology. Joint singing isn't as easy either because of the gap and delay between the callers. And sometimes, words would cut in and out of calls due to connection issues.
How has this apprenticeship impacted you as an individual?
Terry: As an apprentice, my knowledge has widened. I have learned a new language and gained a deeper knowledge of community life in the village. I was challenged with learning new music and rhythms. I also have a deeper appreciation for the culture.
Jenny: As a master artist, I was so proud that people had an interest in my culture and art that my ancestors taught me. Teaching the songs and chants was a new opportunity to spread the culture and pass it down through generations.
How does the practice of your art form help you cope with the impacts of COVID-19 on you and/or your community?
Jenny: Practicing and teaching the music I learned when I was young brought me a sense of home and joy. Terry would share the songs at the weaving circle meetings online. There was overwhelming interest from the immediate community to learn the songs and be immersed in the culture as well.
Anything else you want to share about your experience with this apprenticeship this year?
Terry: As an apprentice, learning a new language was challenging.
Jenny: As a master artist, it was special to me, as it gave me the opportunity to share part of my culture and life story.