I'm the co-founder and blog head of Beyond the Pandemic, and a rising sophomore at Brandeis University, majoring in public health!

In light of the recent events that have shaken the United States and the rest of the world, we at Beyond the Pandemic want to give our full support to the Black Lives Matter movement and people of color, as well as to the frontline workers who have been battling the coronavirus since the beginning. We aim to put a spotlight on what’s occurring and to pass the mic to important voices, and highlight stories and topics that should have been told and talked about a long time ago.

To practice what we preach, Beyond the Pandemic will zero in on the topics of the protests, racism, and the pandemic, and we will give writers of color another platform to write (at least until June 17th, but we will update you if plans change). Additionally, we will be sending out a newsletter shortly with petitions that you can sign so that you can participate in activism that is a force for change and for good–not solely for the sake of proving to the public that you’re “not racist” or anti-racist.

We will post content for the time being when we receive relevant content that amplifies and/or supports voices of color–especially for our black peers. We hope that you will do the same.

The burden falls squarely on each of your shoulders to make as much change as you can, however you can. You do not have to protest (or even donate or post) to make an impact, but by remaining inactive, you are siding against the prosperity of your fellow black Americans.

Below, you will find the websites of a mere few incredible organizations that are a force for change; click the links below to find out more about them (there are simply too many to list!).

Black Lives Matter; NAACP; The Bail Project; EatOkra

Thank you for your continued readership and support.

Warmly,

S. I. Phillips, head of Beyond the Pandemic

By Sophie Phillips

It’s in times like these when it’s easy to feel powerless; you feel like you can’t impact a single person—much less the world. Although it’s nothing short of commendable that people are rallying together and sharing their wealth with those who need it, it’s not always feasible for people to donate their money in the midst of an economic crisis that we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. However, just because you can’t or won’t donate money, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do your part to make your community (and maybe even the world) a better place. Below are some ways that you can better those around you, both near and far, without spending a dime:

  1. The first way that you can make an impact and serve others is by volunteering with organizations virtually. During a global pandemic, it’s organizations like the UN or the Crisis Text Line who work directly with people to get them the help that they need. Below are some incredible volunteer opportunities at varying commitment levels, so that you can find one that suits your schedule and your interests:
  • Words of Thanks is an organization, created by high school sophomore Hansuja Chaurasia, that assigns you a hospital that you’ll write a letter to (it can be handwritten, a picture, or digital, depending on the hospital’s policy)
  • Are you a history buff? If so, Smithsonian Digital Volunteers might be for you. Volunteering here gives you the chance to transcribe historical documents, and they have a list of ongoing transcription projects here.
  • Do you find yourself unsure of how you would like to contribute to an organization? The UN has twelve broad categories where you can volunteer. From translation to art design to outreach and advocacy, you really can’t go wrong (and not to mention, it doesn’t look too shabby on a resume…)
  • If you’re looking for a bigger commitment and you’re a good listener, then volunteering for the Crisis Text Line is an excellent way to give back. Volunteers working for the Crisis Text Line move texters from a state of crisis to a state of calm, and have the ability to save lives (literally), and go through rigorous and free training so they’re able to do so. Although it’s a 200-hour commitment for at least four hours a week, many say it’s well worth the timejust be sure that you’re able to be in a good place mentally before doing this type of work!
photo of person using laptop
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

2. If volunteering is not your thing and you feel really passionately about certain causes (such as food insecurity, poverty, sustainability, etc.) or organizations, speak out and share your support on social media, especially with organizations that aren’t as well known. Although money is power, clout is too. The more shares, likes, and follows a page gets on social media the more influential that they become, and the more able they are to make a change in the world. 

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Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels.com
  • If writing has always been your thing, another wonderful way that you can spread the word about awesome organizations or important causes is to write for Beyond the Pandemic! We are constantly looking for articles that make an impact, so if you would like to either write once or on an ongoing basis, consult this document, and get typing!

3. Lastly, sometimes the most impactful things that you can do are the most simple. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the grand gestures that people can do to change the world, but sometimes, it’s significantly more effective to lift up those around you, whether it’s by doing random acts of kindness, being there when someone needs you, or simply being kind to everyone you meet. Below, you’ll find some ideas for random acts of kindness that you can do for anyone, whether it’s your closest friend or family member, or a random person on the street:

  • Text, call, email, and check up on those around youespecially when it’s not expected. Make an extra effort to ask about their days, or how they’re doing; you never know when someone needs a loving friend or family member.
  • If you’re living with someone and have the time, do extra chores around the house to make their life a little easier. You don’t have to clean the whole house, but a little vacuuming, sweeping, dusting, and even bed-making goes a long way.
  • If you like to cook, make your best dish for an elderly family member, or even cook for a neighbor or someone close by if nobody is around you! At this time, it’s all too easy to feel down, and there’s no greater show of carein my humble opinionthan making delicious home-cooked food with a lot of love (and good seasoning).
  • Give yours, a friend’s or a neighbor’s dog a nice walk. Due to stay-at-home measures, it’s difficult for some to take their furry friend on a stroll, and for any dog owners out there, you know that your fur baby can get antsy if there is no walk waiting for them. However, a word of caution: bring a mask/bandana/scarf and sanitizing equipment with you. Even if you’re outside, this is a scary time for many people, and it’s not only to prevent them from catching your germs, but also for their peace of mind as well. Also, sanitizing the leash or any other equipment that you bring with you is a good idea.
white and black border collie puppy walk beside person in track pants
Photo by Mikayla Meeker on Pexels.com
  • Simply being kind to those around you is in itself the ultimate act of kindness. There is so much value in being someone who cares about others and is polite and considerate to everyone whom they meet. People severely underestimate the power of a kind word or a person with good energy to them to brighten up the space around them. Even if you’re on the shyer or more serious side, you can most certainly be that person too.

Being in a pandemic is hard enough for everyone as it is, but if you take the time to think of others and give back when you can, you can make your home planet a little brighter. If you’re feeling alone or helpless at the disposal of SARS-CoV-2, please know that you’re not alone. No matter where you come from, there are so many others who are feeling the exact same things as you. Although it is crucial to recognize the role that inequality plays in outcomes during the pandemic (adequate testing, affordable healthcare, access to healthy food and safe spaces to exercise, where and with whom you’re quarantining) and to advocate for those who need it, it is important nowmore than everto be united with one another in the common goal of not only eradicating the virus, but staying sane,(relatively) happy, healthy, and kind during and after the process.

By Sophie Phillips and Kendall Bistretzan 

A global pandemic is sweeping the globe, and what else do you have to do while sitting at home, besides work? Luckily for you, you have the entire internet, cable, and streaming services like Netflix at your disposal. Now, one question remains: what do you watch when the danger of contracting SARS-CoV-2 lurks just outside your doorstep? Continue reading to find out. Below, you’ll find some recommendations and reviews from some survey respondents, and your favorite blogging team (that’s us, we hope!) on some well-known, and up-and-coming shows that you can binge on while you’re quarantined.

To start, 39 people were surveyed and asked to tell us some of their favorite TV shows. Here are their top 5 picks, with their thoughts on why they’re worth watching:

  1. Brooklyn 99

“Brooklyn 99 because it’s comedy driven with a slight plot. I like how all the characters foil each other and the humor.” — Rhiannon, 21

It’s “funny, lighthearted, and extremely bingeable.” — Amy, 21

“Brooklyn 99 is such a great feel- good comedy show! It has a very diverse cast that has tons of genuine friendship and the jokes and comedic timing is brilliant!” — Cynthia, 21

“This show is “straight up addicting, and it never fails to make me smile.” — Kaitlyn, 21

  1. The Good Place

“The show revolves around what it means to be a good person, and that everybody has the potential to be good. The writing is amazing and absolutely so funny, and the message is really deep and beautiful. Mike Schur (the writer and creator of the show) studied ethics, which led him to making this show: as they say in commercials, it’s the smartest dumb show. The jokes are amazing, but you also learn a valuable lesson every episode. There are only 4 seasons and each episode is ~25 minutes, so it’s super easy to binge. If you’re looking for a show that’s funny and uplifting/hopeful, this is the show for you.” — Sofia, 19

“It’s beautiful and perfect and honestly hilarious with some surprises.” — Kaitlyn, 21

  1. Grey’s Anatomy

“It has so much drama and an interesting story line which keeps you engaged.” — Meagan, 21

“It’s what got me interested in medicine and the show is so good and addicting.” –Shawna, 19

  1. Jane the Virgin

“Diverse, funny, heartwarming and THE BEST NARRATOR” — Georgia, 19

“Jane the Virgin because it is everything. It is funny, dramatic, romantic, mysterious, and so much more! I cry probably every episode. It talks about real things: depression, anxiety, family, immigration. Even accidental artificial insemination. And the characters are sometimes despicable but also always so lovable. IT’S JUST SO GOOD, OKAY.” — Lelani, 22

  1. Parks and Recreation

“I love the character interactions and story.” — Haley, 21

“Characters are relatable to the audience and they engage in funny interactions with one another” — Joseph, 19

“As someone who studies government, I love it because it is light hearted and not too dramatic. Everyone in it is hilarious and every season ends on a sweet note. Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman are amazing, though all the supporting actors have their time to shine. It’s a classic that I never get bored of rewatching. Definitely better than The Office.” — Eleanor, 19

“High-key better than the office, with a fun environment.” — Kaitlyn, 21

Although almost all of the shows that earned the special spot of being their favorites, two of the hottest shows right now–the Tiger King and Love is Blind–were not on the respondents’ list. However, here is what they had to say about both shows, with a summary of their ratings out of 10:

Tiger King is a docu-series about a man, Joe Exotic, who collects a mass amount of big cats, and his enthralling battle to keep his “sanctuary” alive, despite some challenges. The show also explores two other big cat “sanctuaries” across the country, and the collection of big cats in general. Below is what the respondents had to say about it:

“I think people like the drama, but the show does not focus on tigers as much as the tensions between the characters. Also, Joe’s fans are not focused on the bigger picture of the animal abuse. However, it is very entertaining.” — Jennifer, 22 

“It’s a gripping story and reminds me that there really are people like that who exist out there. Also I like how, despite it being a documentary, it’s really more of an dramatic, episodic documentary because of the cliffhangers at the end of each one.” — Rhiannon, 21 

“Makes for really good television. Clearly eye grabbing, but ultimately, has it changed me? Has it pushed me to do something different? No. Also the people who made it are just as sketchy as the people it’s about.” –Anya, 19

“The documentary 100% uses tactics to skew your opinions as you watch it to view certain people as bad and to favor others, but [it’s] interesting.” — Amy, 21

Love is Blind is a reality show that attempts to answer the question: is love really blind? The show follows 30 singles whose goal is to marry their future spouse, but must decide who to propose to–and ultimately end up with–without ever seeing their face. This show is full of all of the drama, twists, and turns that you would expect from a reality TV show, but with a dash of wholesomeness.

“This is like 90 Day Fiancé. It is very dramatic and over exaggerated. It is corny but I am here for the drama.” –Jennifer, 22

“Very satisfying watching the drama unfold from the experiment while seeing characters’ relationships change from the time in the pods [spaces where the show contestants talk to their could-be spouses without seeing their face] to when they walk down the aisle.” — Emily, 20 

“I really liked this show–much more than the bachelor! I didn’t realize all the different steps the couples were going to have to go through, I thought they just stayed in the pods, so that definitely made it more entertaining. Overall, it was super interesting to see someone fall in love with a personality and voice, and then a whole human person.” — Sofia, 19

“Reality shows are like junk food, they make you feel good for a moment–they’re a guilty pleasure. While I love a good love story, this is a show that more so made me cringe and laugh in the best of ways.” — Amy, 17

Although you’ve heard from others about what their favorites are, you might be wondering, what are we at Beyond the Pandemic watching during these trying times? The world can feel like a scary place these days, so we have catered our top five binge-worthy shows to series that will make you feel good.

  1. Anne with an E 

Why Netflix allows its lovely Canadian content to slip through the cracks into obscurity I will never understand. Anne with an E is the same story you’ve always known; fiery orphan Anne is sent to live with the Cuthbert siblings. The Cuthbert’s, however, are expecting a boy. Anne with an E is a beautiful coming of age story that follows Anne as she deals with being an outsider, navigating new relationships, and growing up in the late 1800’s. You wouldn’t expect a show of this time period to deal with issues of sexism, consent, racism and homophobia, but Anne with an E pulls it off with a grace that does not feel forced. Anne is a strange child, and yet her story is surprisingly relatable to anyone who has ever been considered “different.”

  1. Derry Girls 

With just two seasons and short episodes, Derry Girls can be finished in a day or two, and trust us, you’ll want to. Derry Girls takes place in Derry, Ireland, during the later years of the Northern Ireland conflict, and follows the lives of four girls and a “wee English fella” as they navigate friendship, family, and Catholic high school. The cast has fantastic chemistry and the situations their characters find themselves in are so ridiculous, yet so true to the obscurity of young adulthood. But a little pro-tip: you might want to watch it with subtitles. 

  1. Atypical 

Atypical is about Sam, an 18-year-old boy on the autism spectrum who wants to start dating. This is the catalyst of the story, launching his well-meaning but often misguided family into mayhem as they deal with the changes that accompany growing up. The show’s first season was well-received, but garnered criticism for its portrayal of some aspects of autism. So, for the second season the show hired more actors and writers on the spectrum. A particular stand-out of Atypical is Brigette Lundy-Paine, the non-binary actor who plays Sam’s younger sister, Casey. Casey is head-strong and snarky, but Lundy-Paine flawlessly portrays Casey’s subtle moments of loneliness and insecurity, and in later seasons, her struggle to come to terms with her sexuality. Atypical is a show that promotes love and acceptance, and the world could always use just a little bit more of that. 

  1. Sex Education  

Socially awkward Otis doesn’t have much experience in the sex department, but thanks to his overbearing sex therapist mother, he knows more than he ever bargained for. When misfit Maeve realizes that their classmates are not so educated, the two team up to become the school’s underground “sex therapists.” With a diverse and hilarious cast, this British comedy has been praised for its representation of sexuality and sexual orientations, and you just might learn a thing or two! It also has this fantastic aesthetic that transcends the rules of era-based fashion and borders. 

  1. Big Mouth 

Disclaimer: this show is SUPER raunchy, but absolutely hysterical when it isn’t bombarding you with flashbacks of your own pre-teen horrors. Big Mouth follows best friends Andrew and Nick as they enter puberty. Nick is self-conscious of being a late bloomer, while Andrew has to deal with a randy hormone monster named Maury that is the physical embodiment of the intrusive thoughts that come along with growing up. Along for the ride are Jessi, a headstrong girl who struggles with her parents divorce, Jay, a lonely boy with ADHD who slowly comes to terms with his sexuality, and Missy, a nerdy, awkward late-bloomer who struggles to manage her strong emotions. Yes, there are a lot of dirty jokes and animated penises, but the show also looks at the nitty gritty of growing up; first periods, consent, shame, sexism, and mental illness. And yes, the animation is kind of hideous, but it also stars John Mulaney, Nick Kroll, Maya Rudolph, Jordan Peele and more pillars of comedy. So, you win some you lose some. 

There is an infinity of different shows to binge on when you’re stuck in your home during quarantine, and although television is far from solving any of the myriad of what’s going on in and outside your home, it sure can provide some comfort, humor, and distraction from the pandemic outside of your doorstep.