Jill Weiler is a visiting instructor in English teaching several sections of English 107- College Composition in the College of Arts and Sciences. For the last several weeks she has invited her students to write about the Covid-19 Pandemic addressing core themes. The first theme capture their own feelings about “Living in the Era of Coronavirus.” Last week, she asked the students to write about the “Advice and Encouragement” they would give to their classmates, families and friends about how to make it through the pandemic. The essays are remarkable — authentic, insightful, wise, heartfelt and very constructive. I am so grateful to Professor Weiler and the students of CAS English 107 for sharing these essays and giving me permission to share them on this blog. I will be posting them in two segments this week, with the first 15 posted below and the second 15 on Thursday. I hope all readers share my feelings of gratitude to our students and to Professor Weiler for these words of wisdom in these challenging days.
The messages below are from students in ENGL 107/1 and 107/2 . We hope their heartfelt words comfort and inspire you during this challenging moment.
ANA GUZMAN HERNANDEZ
To those who are struggling to stay positive, remember that bad days build better days. I understand that it is difficult to stay motivated, calm, and sane during this pandemic. Yet, the only thing we can do is make the best out of such unfortunate circumstances. To those, who are having trouble staying motivated or being productive. I recommend that you try creating a routine that you know you will be able to stick to. Also, if you’re having a difficult time staying calm during such disastrous times, I would recommend going on a walk. Something that I and my sister do almost every other day to clear our minds. Lastly, if you struggling to stay sane, I completely understand. At some point, I felt like the walls were starting to cave in. However, try picking up a hobby that will keep you busy for at least a couple of hours. For instance, paint, pick up a new book, watch a movie, or binge a new show on Netflix. I would highly recommend, money heist, queen of the south, the perks of being a wallflower, life as we know it, and becoming Jane Austin. All great movies and shows that I have been watching during quarantine to stay sane. Furthermore, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed or a little discouraged to be productive. Nevertheless, don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re doing your best, and that is all anyone can do.
COVID-19 Please go away. We had just begun to take part in our new year’s resolutions. Why are you taking away our jobs? Why are you taking away our beloved family and friends? Why are you taking away our small businesses that are just now beginning to prosper? I am tired of my bills not getting paid on time. I am tired of waiting on unemployment checks that seem like they never arrive. But most of all I am tired of crying over the loss of a family member, cousin, coach , or friend. How am I supposed to help console someone who lost someone dear to them when trying to console myself as well? Am i supposed to say it will get better? That would be alie. It seems like more and more people are dying. I don’t know what to say to you to make you feel better. What I can say is that I understand your pain of losing someone who you held close to your heart to COVID-19. I can say that i understand how stressed it can be to be unemployed in a time where you know that companies aren’t hiring. I definitely know how it feels to be an unemployed full time college student with a child in trying to keep up with school work, juggle mom and trying to keep up with the bills. I can’t tell you how you should feel, but I will be right there beside you through it all.
This ‘quarantine lifestyle’ is one I never believed would ever happen. Life throws us burdens all the time but this came at us rapidly and we were blind to what was occurring around us. In the space of two weeks, my daily routine – driving to school and attending classes on campus, hang with my friends, going home and completing assignments – completely changed. It was a worldwide lockdown. Online classes and having excessive assignments due the same day becomes overwhelming and you lose your mind. The chaos that maybe surrounds you at home from your siblings playing music or arguing and the constant calls from your parents to wash the dishes, do other chores and even pass the remote that is beside them. And with all this, you’re still expected to get good grades. It’s overbearing. But, if you reflect on this moment within your household at this moment, you should be able to smile. All year round, most of the time everyone is not home at the same time and even though you maybe spend small amounts of time together, this ‘quarantine’ can possibly make up for the lost times. My encouragement to you is to play games with your siblings, have deep conversations as a family and try to understand each other again, watch movies together or even play in your backyard just to get a breather. And as for school and all the assignments, you will get it done. Consistent stressing will not help. Make a schedule and use at least three hours from each day to do something that makes you happy and gives you peace of mind – listen to music, meditate, exercise, etc. Think of this quarantine positively because so much negativity is happening around us and not many people are lucky enough to have a home with their families present. Have faith that everything will be better than ever before and appreciate the time spent at home with your family. Yes, it is overwhelming sometimes but reflect on what you have and what you can lose in the moment of what is taking place right now.
To all my Trinity Sisters, I have still been able to fathom what is currently happening. All of those movies, discussions, and history lessons regarding how everything changed due to a world crisis, has now become our reality. I, like most of you, spend my time at my home, distancing myself from society not knowing when this will ever end. But what helps me get through times like this is the phrase, “everything happens for a reason”. What we are currently living will make us stronger. It will make us aware that every second counts. And that every moment with those dearest to our hearts are precious, unforgettable, and timeless. We all have to live as if there is no tomorrow. So what are you waiting for? Start today! Talk with your friends. Tell the person you miss, how much you miss them and how badly you want to be by their side. Tell the person you like, everything you hesitated on telling them. Take advantage of this time to spend time with your family, because sometimes, we forget that they’re here for us. Above all, remember that everything can end in just a blink of an eye.
My advice to people on this world crisis is to maintain and take precaution as our local governors are telling us to do. I hope everyone stays positive and just enjoys the time you have with your family. I consider people to not freak out and make sure that you have food and plenty of water that can last through this pandemic. We will get through this but stay strong. Don’t believe what others are saying you should follow the rules of our leaders who are going to guide us through this crisis. I hope everyone maintains their hygiene and health while being in the house for so long. Abide by the rules given to you and stay indoors unless you have to work or need to go to the market for any needs.
I hope that everyone is adjusting well in this challenging time we are all going through. This is a rare pandemic that has just taken over our daily lives and our everyday routine. Although this may be such a hard time, we all are going through, you are not alone, we are all in this together. This is a time in the world where we all have to stick together and work together to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This pandemic has made a true impact to our community and our country overall. The only way to end this is to stay home, keep practicing social distancing, washing your hands and not touching your face. This is all new to everyone, no one ever expected to be locked in your house and not be able to do what we would regularly be doing. It is a new adjustment and for some it may be easy but for others it has been hard. A positive outcome that we can take from this is having family time more than ever. Sometimes school or work takes up most of the time of our lives that we forget the couple of hours we share as a family but now we can cherish these moments more than ever. Some activities you can do to distract yourself while being home are arts and crafts, playing games, watching movies, and just spending time together. To help end this pandemic make sure to stay home as long as possible unless you are going out for work or essential shopping. Also, to all of those who are still working like our first responders, essential workers, policemen, and all others working thank you. Thank you for putting being strong and courageous to be out here helping the community through these dark times. I know that everyone may feel overwhelmed and worried but together we can get through this. We are not alone, and we are in this together. Let’s make the best ofspending time with family and try to distract ourselves from the pandemic to no longer feel overwhelmed. Lastly, let’s make sure we pray for one another because some really need it. Make sure to check up on your family members and continue to support one another. Hopefully this all ends soon. I hope and pray you all are doing well and are healthy.
My advice to someone who is struggling to get used to this very difficult time or is feeling very stressed would be to just breathe because everything is going to be okay. I know it may seem as if this situation only gets worse as the days go on but this will eventually all come to an end. Do not think about it too much because the more you think about it the more anxious you will become so try to distract yourself by doing things that you enjoy while staying inside and safe. If you are stressed about your school work I understand as I am also stressed about my math class and trying to understand what is going on and trying to keep up with my homework and quizzes. If you are struggling to keep up with your work or you are finding it hard to understand what is going on in the class you are stressed about maybe reach out to your professor/teacher and explain to them what is going on and how they can better help you. Overall in a time like this the best advice I can think of is to stay indoors as much as possible and enjoy the time you have with your family if you are living with them. If you do not live with them maybe try calling them or facetiming them every now and then to check in with them. Also do not think about it too much because the more you think about it the more you will stress and panic and that will only increase your anxiety. Just keep breathing because everything will be okay and before you know it the world will return to normal and you won’t even remember that this was once a huge issue going on in the world. Stay safe and this will all be over soon.
As a healthcare worker I completely understand an individual’s fear, stress and anxiety. It is important to stay calm. As we tend to forget about our physical health when it comes to our mental. Some people are forgetting to eat or to sleep well. There are people who are wearing gloves everywhere. Although this is to help prevent you from getting anything you are spreading more germs if you are not changing your gloves every so often. In example when a doctor sees a patient, he/she is wearing gloves. When the doctor is done with the patient the gloves are disposed. This is to prevent any germs or bacteria being spread to computers, doors etc. If you are wearing the same pair of gloves you should still sanitize the gloves and wash your hands with the gloves. You should be washing your hands and changing gloves every hour. Some people are not practicing social distancing and this si so important. The virus does not discriminate. Anybody at any age can get this virus. Whether it hits you harder than the person next to you is not predictable. The US has almost 350 thousand cases. These are only cases that have been confirmed and those of patients who have been allowed to get tested. There are many more cases out there that have not been confirmed. People are dying in hospital beds alone. This is such a sad and traumatic global event. It is important to stay mentally sane. When going through depression stress or anxiety it is important to find a hobby. Find something you love to do. Read a book, color or paint. It is okay to go for a walk and clear your mind. It is okay to spend quality time with your family. Family night challenges is a great idea. There are so many activities one can do to grow closer to family. It is important to keep yourself busy to keep your mind off of everything going on in the real world. It is important to stay sane during all of this. Because there is no rain without a rainbow and there is no rainbow without a pot of gold. This will all come to end, and our lives will get back to again.
In hard times like this is when we need each other the most. In my opinion, the best way to spend quarantine is with our loved ones. Although not many people, including myself, are not able to spend it with their loved ones because of work related matters or any other circumstances, it is important to keep those people in our prayers. Since the start of the epidemic my mom has been working nonstop. She has taught me that there are people out there in the world that still care for the well-being of others. Consequently, our job is to remain home, so that they are able to do their job successfully. Many people say quarantine has been boring, and for the most part I agree, but in reality there are a lot of things we can do to make the time go faster. For example, my brother and I have begun to plant some flowers to prepare for spring. We have cleaned and redecorated our rooms. Yesterday we solved a puzzle and played board games. Throughout the day we go for walks around our neighborhood, with masks on. At the end of the day we catch up on our favorite shows and watch movies. We also keep in mind that we are still in school, even if we are not physically there. It has been hard for me to remember that I am still in school, it has felt like a really long break to me. The other day I was talking to my mom about the epidemic because I just wanted to know what she thought about the whole thing. Since my mom is a nurse, she has seen death numerous times in her unit, but this virus has impacted her the most. She is shocked at how quick it is spreading and how many people have been affected by it. She made me realize that we are fortunate enough to have a home and health, unlike many people.
For the first few months all of us have been struggling with coping with the COVID-19. I encourage all students and staff to stay home. Stay with your family and only go out only when necessary. Make sure to keep in touch with the people around and make sure y’all have a positive mindset. If you or someone you know have lost their job make sure you file for unemployment and get the extra help you need. There are some companies like Amazon that are hiring people to work at homes. Make sure you don’t watch too much of the news so you don’t become overwhelmed. The first priority is your overall health and well-being. If you become stressed about school work make sure you take mini breaks for yourself. This is the perfect time to workout and exercise in your home or backyard. Working out is proven to have positive benefits for physical and mental health. Yoga or taking a virtual class is a great option as well to occupy your time. If you become bored you can use programs like Zoom or Facetime to talk to your friends. You can have virtual movie nights or do dance challenges with your friends or family. Rotate your schedule and try new hobbies to get creative. If you need additional help don’t hesitate to call or email your advisor or professors. If you have trouble doing your work because of internet issues, drive to a free wifi hotspot. There are libraries and different places that have made their wifi accessible in the parking lot so you can do your work. If you have any problems or concerns don’t hesitate to reach out to a friend. We are all in this together.
Look around you. What do you see? Hope? Hope is what I see. Four weeks ago, I was sitting with my roommate singing at the top of our lungs to our favorite Bad Bunny song called “Callaita”; now, I am sitting on my couch in South Carolina. I miss my roommate and DC. I know that things aren’t looking great, but I also know that everything is temporary. I know that one day, hopefully, this year, the world will heal from this pandemic. You’ve all come this far. No matter what your circumstances are, you’ve all worked extremely hard to get into college. What did it take? Work ethic and hope. You’ve all overcome obstacles. You’ve all worked late at night trying to finish assignments. We have all probably cried once wondering if we even belong in college. Don’t give up. You are bigger than this Coronavirus pandemic. Look around the world. What do you see? The world suddenly has stopped. No wars. However, the wars within our minds are louder than ever. How do you cope with these internal wars? You hope. Don’t give up. Now is the time to figure out your mind. Dance alone and have your own mini-concerts. Cry if you need to. If you have children, hug them tighter than ever. If you are with your parents, let them in. Let them get to know the growth within you. Color with your siblings. I’ve seen this particular statement everywhere on social media: “If you don’t come out of this pandemic with a new skill or talent, you never lacked time, you lacked discipline.” Such a lie. You don’t have to use this time to create something new. You don’t have to force yourself to learn a new skill. It is okay to do nothing. It is okay to feel confused. This pandemic was very unexpected. Please remind yourself that what you do daily is more than enough. Don’t feel as if you are failing in life during this quarantine time. Remember that we are all struggling. Be proud of what you accomplish each day. We are all trying to survive. Although you may not have the strength in you to create something or learn a new skill, you do have the strength to think. Think of all the blessings in your life. Think about your assignments and plan out how to improve your studying skills for finals. Enjoy yourself by eating your favorite snacks. Watch movies and take naps. If you are worried about your family’s economic security, reach out to your friends for help. Now is the time to ask for help and help others. Coming to the US from Mexico, I’ve always lived in fear of being undocumented. Although I am a DACA recipient now, my status in the US is not promised. I am always hoping. I hope for a permanent solution to my status in this country. I hope that the Supreme Court continues the DACA program. If you can relate to my DACA status experience, I know how much stress can pile up on top of the Coronavirus pandemic. But please just hope and if you believe in prayers, then please pray. No matter what your circumstances are, don’t give up, you’ve come this far.
MELISSA LAZO CONTRERAS
Something that that I have struggled with during this time is staying organized with my work as well as staying distracted and finding something to do with all the free time I have. My advice to stay organized and keep up with all the work is to have an agenda and write everything that had to be done. I’ve found this very helpful because it’s nice to visually see what you have to do. I also think that writing down what I have to do helps not to be stressed over work because I see what I have to do and can time how I want to work on those assignments. Something I would say to do if you’re trying to find a way to distract yourself and find what to do with your free time is talk with family and play board games. Something else to do is to call friends and check up on how they are doing. Watching movies and tv shows is also something that helps to entertain yourself. There are some very good movies to watch and also just to re-watch some of your favorite movies. I know that’s what I’ve been doing (I love Jim Carrey movies). Dealing with everything that is going on is very scary, but we can get through it!
Despite what’s going on in the world, you should make the best of it. Spending time with family can keep your mind off things. You can play games, cook, clean, and talk with your family more now. Thinking about the positive side of things will help anybody get through this issue. This issue is going to bring everyone closer. If you’re bored try drawing or reading. Try getting out of your comfort zone, if you never tried yoga now it’s the perfect time to look for a YouTube video and try yoga. There’s so many things you can do. If you have younger siblings, play video games with them or color with them. Have them try talking to you about their day and how they feel. Also, pamper yourself, try doing your makeup, your hair, paint your nails and get pretty and take some pictures just because. You don’t necessarily have to go out to get dressed up and pretty. You can also look up videos on how to cook a certain meal and you should make it. Redecorate your room, try switching things up. Clean out your closet. Don’t like cleaning? Binge watch some shows on Netflix and make yourself some popcorn. FaceTime the people you miss. Listen to music. Try getting your school work done on time, study more for an upcoming test. Go for a walk or just get some fresh air but do not go where there are many people. You should try to have a positive mind, this will be over soon. If you have to go to the store remember to stay 6 feet apart and wash your hands! Keep yourself distracted by trying out new things.
According to Mental Health America, it was stated that “research shows people who spent time writing about a difficult event had better health and less depression.” Writing down and jotting your daily thoughts, your worst thoughts, encouraging moments, your down moments, etc will relieve some of your stress. Have you ever just sat and wondered; when will things get better? Or will things ever get better? Or if one day everything will be better than before? I’m pretty sure we all have , but life is full of roller coasters. Everyone has their moments, their issues, their problems, but God has you covered through all of them. I know some are having such a hard time with everything going on far as this epidemic and even personal things in life and I’m sorry that some are hurting so much. However, if any of you need someone to talk to I am here whether you know me or not. My life isn’t perfect but I love making others feel comfortable, and the feeling like someone else gets what you’re going through, and that you’re not alone in this world. I also want to leave this message off with a quote from minister Fred B. Craddock, “To understand what is understood and how it is understood means not only that you understand but that the listener understands that you do too.”