How has the COVID crisis changed the world for students and their families? First-year students in Assistant Professor of Writing Christy J. Zink’s seminar shared their journal reflections on the challenges of living in “Our New World,” from confronting fears to finding new inspirations. “This is a time when we can truly help and support one another,” said neuroscience major Reem Bahr.
Just yesterday, we were at GW discussing the possibility of a school closure, and now everything is basically closed. Like many of my friends and classmates, I’m not happy about being stuck at home all day long. But looking at the bigger picture, I’m more worried about the health of my loved ones.
This situation is very unfortunate but also eye-opening. In our world, there are constantly big scale crises—wars, pandemics, natural disasters. But rarely do they affect everyone at once. A lot of the time we politicize these issues and fail to sympathize or understand their scale. Most of my family is overseas in India, and it’s strange seeing everyone from all around the world with the same worry and fear. We’re all in this together, literally, and therefore this should only bring us together. We can all do our part by social distancing, being careful to stop the spread of the virus and trying to remain positive. This is a time when we can truly help and support one another.
Isabella Rosa Guastaferro
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
The weeks leading up to my return to the Dominican Republic were hectic ones. My mother was panicking; my father was making me buy gloves, masks, Lysol; my aunt was calling me in a panic because my mom was calling her in a panic. It made my journey back home a stressful one instead of a happy one.
When I landed at the airport, everything seemed normal. No one was wearing masks or gloves. At the time, no [COVID] cases had been identified. But then the president called for people to self-isolate. No one was allowed on the streets past five in the afternoon. Soon, there were 500 cases of COVID-19 in the DR. [Editor’s Note: There are currently more than 6,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic and nearly 300 confirmed deaths.]
My parents told me not to leave the house from the moment I landed in the DR. I finally went out for a drive with my mom. I didn’t recognize the streets. They usually are swarmed with traffic. But they were almost empty, just one or two cars speeding to get home. I can’t believe the impact that this virus has taken on my little community.
Holmdel, New Jersey
A couple of days after I returned to my hometown, New Jersey declared a state of emergency. In my head, I kept thinking that things still here were not as bad as California or New York, but that quickly changed. New Jersey now has the second most reported cases of COVID-19. At first, I was able to leave my house and drive to the beach to pass the time. Now, we have a mandatory curfew of 8 PM. All parks, beaches and non-essential stores are closed.
I was not scared before, but now I fear for the health of my older family members. My grandfather has congestive heart failure. My uncle had cancer and half his lung was removed. My aunt was diagnosed with COVID-19, but thankfully she has made a full recovery. I was recently in the hospital with an extreme case of mono that caused liver problems and weakened my immune system. I don’t know how my body would react if I got the virus. But I see younger people not quarantining. They think that if they are healthy and get the virus, it is just going to be like catching a little cold. The point of the quarantine is to stop the spread, especially to older people and people with pre-existing medical issues. People my age have to realize how important it is to keep everyone safe.
Spring break while quarantining was not ideal in any sense. But it did bring about some positive changes. Most notably, I have noticed my respect for nature and being outside has improved drastically. When you are stuck inside all day, a walk or bike ride definitely brings a welcome breath of fresh air. I have converted my mom’s old office into my personal “classroom,” where I try my best to separate myself from my family while I attend my classes and keep up with my homework. Working out and keeping active has become an important aspect of my daily routine too. Doing chores and cleaning up gives me a sense of helpfulness in a time where a lot of us feel hopeless. I’ve been cooking meals and trying new recipes, things I didn’t have the time to do at school. Our current situation is scary and uncertain. However, I have done my best to adapt and stay positive.