By Eleanor Kelman:

One thing that Instagram has made abundantly clear to me is that everyone I know is baking delicious goods these days except for me. It seems like the whole world has acquired a passion for baking all at once, but the end product of baking has always appealed to me more than the process. It’s just so time-consuming, and my mile-a-minute brain is not suited for labors of love. However, there is something I have found time for myself to experiment with: beverages.

Like any good twenty-something, I miss being able to go to the Dunkin’ Donuts on campus (Boston really does run on Dunkin’) and pick up a large decaf soy latte with raspberry shot whenever I needed something to sip on while doing homework. Even now, with Starbucks opening up slowly but surely, I’ve been sorely missing having fancy coffee and tea drinks at my disposal. The only solution I’ve come up with was making my own (without the methodical ratios required of a real cafe to label a drink a “latte”, an overly pedantic term that I like to use to refer to all milk-and-other stuff hybrids), and that quickly transformed from a necessity to one of my favorite things to do everyday.

So, here is a quick introduction to one area of study I’ve devoted quite a bit of research and a whole lot of passion to.

The easier beverage to master would be coffee, so if you already have a taste for it, I’d recommend starting your latte journey there. There are a hundred different ways to brew a cup of coffee, but the simplest method is just… use a coffee maker. Although it’s one thing I cannot wait to purchase, I don’t have an espresso machine or even a french press, so I make do with my dad’s coffee maker. Simply take some ground coffee beans (we have owned this one grinder for about as long as I’ve been alive), pack them into the machine, and turn it on. You might have to fiddle around with the ratios, but I’ve found that just following the most basic of directions brews a pretty decent cup of joe. And, voila! Your coffee base.

[Sometimes I’ll decorate my drinks with a sprinkling of cinnamon or another spice for some flair.]

Tea, on the other hand, is a bit less forgiving. First and foremost, there are different types of teas and tisanes (the latter being herbal mixtures not from the tea leaf, Camellia sinensis1). All “tea” (white, oolong, green, etc.) come from the same plant at different levels of oxidation. While the actual process behind tea harvesting is fascinating, the most important information is more based in trial-and-error. While all tea is wonderful in different uses, more robust teas, such as green or black tea, tends to handle additions better, and that includes the necessary milk to create a latte. They also just so happen to be more convenient to find in the United States, although the other types are certainly worth seeking out if you want to sip tea in its unadulterated form! Unless you want to invest in a tea strainer (mine looks like the Loch Ness Monster sticking out of the hot water; I call her Nessie), tea bags are your best bet. Black teas and tisanes such as rooibos or chamomile are hardest to mess up; just stick one in a cup with boiling water and let it steep for four or five minutes. Green teas require a bit more finesse, with slightly cooler water, and should not steep for longer than two-ish minutes. You’ll know instantly if it is overstepped, as it will taste incredibly bitter! Matcha is a slightly different beast, being powdered green tea rather than whole leaves and requiring frothing in a small cup of water, but there are a host of videos online showing how to create matcha in the most beautiful settings that just writing it in a blog would not do the process justice. Whether you prefer the strong bergamot notes of earl grey or the delicate nuttiness of genmaicha, making a latte with a tea base is a worthy meditative process.

[Nessie the Loch Ness tea strainer in her natural habitat.]

Now that you have your caffeinated (or decaffeinated, if that’s more your style) component prepped, it’s time to pick your milk. I prefer soy milk, as I enjoy the environmentally-friendliness of non-dairy milk, but will use the skim milk the rest of my family drinks in a pinch. In all honesty, milk is entirely up to personal preference: Maybe you like the creaminess of coconut milk, the nostalgic texture of whole milk, or the trendiness of oat milk. Different milks have different strengths, and whichever you choose (or if you forgo milk and just use a creamer) is going to turn out delicious. As a slight word of caution: If you want to froth your milk (an optional step I sometimes do for the aesthetics), dairy milk is going to work a bit better. I’ve found that whereas some dairy milk whipped for a few seconds with my milk frother then microwaved for twenty seconds to stabilize it will hold an insane amount of foam for what seems like hours, soy milk just doesn’t have the same “soapy” ability, although it does make a lovely foam in and of itself. The microwave step is essential to really increase the longevity of the milk foam, but obviously I skip it entirely when making an iced latte. As well, while I use a handheld frother, anything from a devoted machine to just shaking some milk in a covered jar for a while will make a snazzy display.

Finally, we have reached the moment to finish our latte! Just take your coffee or tea and add your milk. If it’s just too hot out, add some ice before your other ingredients. If you’re a rebel, add your milk first then stir in the rest. If you want beautiful latte art, me too. I haven’t unlocked that level of barista yet.

Although most days I just make a simple drink, sometimes I like to spend more time working on my lattes. It becomes a creative outlet for me, and while not every creation is particularly successful, all give me a sense of accomplishment. I have two Torani flavored syrups at home, unsweetened vanilla and unsweetened raspberry, and I plan to purchase more when these are used up. Both go great in coffee and I’ve found some good combinations with teas. An earl grey latte with some vanilla makes a delicious London fog, one of my go-tos. Any warming spices, such as ginger or cinnamon, play very nicely with coffee and black tea (there’s a reason masala chai is so popular!). I finagled the Turkish coffee my dad is always making on the stovetop into a latte, albeit a very assertive one. I’ve stopped getting the side-eye when icing it down and throwing in a ton of soy milk, despite it being a very, very Americanized take on my Middle Eastern roots. Once I even made a tangentially-related drink, horchata, a Latin American dessert drink made from rice, milk, and some spices. I could only drink a bit at a time (it’s so sweet), but I was very proud of myself for devoting an afternoon to it! On the other hand, my attempt at bubble tea didn’t turn out nearly as tasty as what I would buy from a cafe, but learning that tapioca starch and water make a sticky non-Newtonian fluid was a fun experience. I also quickly found that the fluffiness of dalgona coffee, despite being very popular online and stunning to look at, simply cannot be mixed into milk. It sits as a pretty layer of mediocre-tasting foam atop plain milk. I also discovered that the medicinal smell of almond extract is a lot to overcome, even when I balanced it with a good squirt of honey. And mixing hibiscus tea and milk is an absolutely horrid experience. Just… learn from my mistake with that one.

[Did you know that boba pearls are naturally white? I was surprised to find out!]

The best part of making a latte for me isn’t even always drinking it. While it is, of course, nice to reap the rewards of my labor, putzing around in the kitchen thinking of new and creative ways to make a drink or finally getting around to that recipe that had been saved in my bookmarks for a while feels really good. While the sense of accomplishment when a drink turns out cafe-worthy can make my entire day leagues better, making lattes is such a low-stakes game that even when I mess up three times over I still feel like I’ve been productive. So what if the latte of the day is quasi-inedible and I’m just drinking it out of spite? I still put time and effort into something, and that’s worthy of applause in and of itself.


1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea

by Nicole Mattson

Like many people who have seen the video of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, you might be wondering what you can do to be actively anti-racist. You might show your support by protesting on the streets, by donating money to organizations who need it, or by donating supplies such as food and toiletries to those on the frontlines who are protesting. If you are unable to protest, or don’t feel safe leaving your house during the pandemic, an easy way that you can begin becoming anti-racist is by educating yourself. This is a key component of being anti-racist, and putting yourself in the shoes of black, indigenous, and people of color. When you acknowledge that racism exists and is harmful, as well as that everyone has an implicit bias of some sort, helps to promote change in your own community. To be anti-racist means that you recognize people’s differences and you actively seek to change past beliefs–it is more than just being sympathetic. One way you can educate yourself is through reading. Reading can shine a new light on your perspective of what has been happening–not only the past week or past decade–but the past couple hundred years in the United States. Listed below are five books to consider reading to help you better understand what marginalized people have been through.

  1. A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, edited by Sun Yung Shin (2016), is a collection of essays that explore the infamous “Minnesota Nice” and how a culture of passive-aggressiveness can hurt black, indigenous and people of color. Even if you don’t live in Minnesota, it is worth the read, since chances are, you have experienced passive-aggressiveness at one point in your life or in your community, or have been passive-aggressive.

Link to purchase: https://www.mnhs.org/mnhspress/books/good-time-truth

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2017) is a well-known young adult book that even older adults should read. It is about a black teenager, Starr Carter, who attends a white high school, who also experiences her friend getting shot. It garners perspective as to what it is like to grow up as a person of color in the United States in the modern era. It was even made into a film in 2018 starring Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter.

Link to purchase the book: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062498533/the-hate-u-give/

Link to The Hate U Give film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MM8OkVT0hw

  1. Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? By Alicia Garza, Maya Schenwar, Joe Macaré, and Alana Yu-lan Price (2016) is another collection of essays about the history of police brutality in the United States, with its origins going back to slavery. It talks about the effect on families these killings have. It discusses the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement. It also mentions that the media is starting to focus on police violence this past decade. It questions why police exist and what their purpose is- do they just protect white people? 

Link to purchase: https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/941-who-do-you-serve-who-do-you-protect

*Free e-book download until June 5, 2020!

  1. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo (2018), has a pretty straightforward title: why is it so hard for white people to talk about racism? Are they afraid to stand up to racist family members? How do we fix that? It dissects why racism exists through media representation, daily life, and more. It is important to have a conversation about race, and DiAngelo’s book will help with that by discussing racial justice.

Link to purchase: https://robindiangelo.com/publications/

  1. The Bluest Eye by award-winning author Toni Morrison (1970) is the oldest book listed here. It’s about Pecola Breedlove who is a young black girl in the Great Depression. Pecola thinks she isn’t pretty enough because she doesn’t have blue eyes, and thinks having blue eyes will make her life better. It does not help when people make fun of her too. Morrison’s fictional book discusses white beauty standards and how hurtful they are to society as a whole, and readers (especially white readers) will be able to gain a perspective on the effects of these standards. Although this story is fifty years old, it is still relevant to readers today.

Link to purchase: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/117662/the-bluest-eye-by-toni-morrison/

*Most of these books can also be checked out for free at your local library–or you can ask a friend to borrow their copy!

Of course, these are just a few books that can give you a different perspective. There are many more out there that you can explore. Some of my favorite black authors are Toni Morrison, who has written many books such as Sula, Beloved, and Song of Solomon, and James Baldwin, who wrote If Beale Street Could Talk and Sonny’s Blues. Reading books by black, indigenous, and people of color opens up a whole new perspective on racism and what they have gone through all these years, and by educating yourself through these pieces of literature can give you a foundation for standing up for others in your community.

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 Eleanor Kelman

When I first received news that my campus would be shutting down and classes would move to remote instruction due to COVID-19, my initial fear wasn’t directed at how I personally would adapt to the change; rather, I worried how my dad would fare. I had been living at my university in Boston, which quickly became one of the hot zones of the virus; however, once it became apparent that I would need to leave the bubble of my university housing, I only worried about the possibility of catching the virus. Though it does seem a bit shortsighted in hindsight, I truly believed I would be absolutely safe from catching the virus. At the time, the news was reporting that younger and otherwise healthy people would simply catch the equivalence of the common cold and recover without issue; therefore, I shrugged off the prospect of becoming gravely ill in the event I would become infected. However, once I realized I would need to head back home, I began to panic.

Like many others, despite not being in the at-risk group for COVID-19, I have family members who are. I’m living with my family at home, and my dad is immunocompromised. Even simply coming home from school made me nervous. Parties were thrown every night, and since I lived in a popular upperclassmen-only area of campus, these parties occurred directly outside my front door. I was at the crossroads of wanting to enjoy the final days of my college experience and not wanting to put myself, and subsequently my dad, at risk. I even considered trying to remain on campus or staying with my boyfriend’s family to avoid any chance of passing on the virus. Neither option would prove particularly feasible, and on top of that, my parents wanted me to come home so I could maintain a sense of normalcy.

My family is doing its best to act like we have the freedom to move around, but our need to be hypervigilant reigns supreme. My parents go shopping once every two weeks when the supermarkets open in the morning. We wear masks every time we leave the house to go on walks around the neighborhood. I’ve been keeping connected with friends via messages and video calls. At first, I found this to be a suitable substitute for actually living on campus close to my friends at all times, but lately, I’ve been feeling more and more antsy and fidgety. I have felt completely lost within my own thoughts for what seems like hours every day. The one time I got some reprieve when I drove to stay at my boyfriend’s house for a few days, I never left the car until I was at his house and reinstated my entire quarantine routine while there. When I returned home, I quarantined inside my bedroom for a week (with my parents placing food outside my door that I ordered by calling our home phone). My parents will crack the occasional joke about paranoia, but we understand that it’s something we all have to do in order to keep my dad safe.

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[Each of us has our own personal mask in my family. I got the groutfit one.]

It’s been difficult, to say the least. When I see friends posting on social media about going grocery shopping, I feel a pang of jealousy — my parents don’t allow my siblings and me to go to the store with them. I got plenty of messages like “Oh, that’s stupid!” when I documented my in-room quarantine to my Snapchat streaks, but it wasn’t stupid in my household. Sometimes I want to hop into my car and drive to the local hiking trail or shopping center just to get out of my head for a while, but I know that I shouldn’t. Maintaining safe quarantine practices isn’t all that essential for me, but it could be literally lifesaving for my family. I still can’t help those feelings of lamenting having to be so tightly-wound from sneaking in, though, no matter how much I know they are selfish. 

Whenever I get caught up in jealousy and a weird new-age type of FOMO I thought I had left behind at college, I find people in similar situations to mine. One of my best friends from childhood is severely immunocompromised and, for months, found themselves unable to leave the house just to take a walk. Many of my friends live with elderly family members and have been more worried than myself. Some people I know have even caught the virus themselves, know people who have caught it, or have come in contact with someone who caught it. I also know some people who are in the exact same boat I am with an immunocompromised member of the family.

In all honesty, it’s been a tough time for everyone. That being said, hearing how I’m not alone in my fears has made it a lot easier to handle. If I need to, I can call up a friend who understands my frustrations perfectly and just vent for an hour without feeling guilty. My support network has truly strengthened during quarantine, which was something I was not at all expecting when I said my “final” goodbyes to my friends before beginning the long drive from Boston. My friends and family have been there for me in a way I’m eternally grateful for, especially given that this has really challenged how close we are!
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[My beloved Google Calendar even has some standing friendship dates!]

Whereas remote learning was, pretty objectively, absolutely terrible, remote socialization has been lovely. People who I hadn’t seen in a while and had accidentally fallen off my radar (sorry!) due to my hectic pre-COVID day-to-day life have become my close friends again. I’ve been more inspired to reach out and initiate conversations, something I have always struggled with, due to the fact that there are no longer any real ramifications. After all, who is going to be too busy to video call? We’re all stuck here with too much time on our hands! And no one has lamented me being more active on social media; in fact, I’ve started commenting on posts of people I haven’t seen since high school who have found themselves elated to reinvigorate our friendships. Navigating and mastering social media to stay happy definitely had a bit of a learning curve for me at the start, but it’s allowed me to focus my energy on the people I really care about and fully nurture those friendships.

This isn’t to say that everything has been rainbows and sparkly unicorns and I love having the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stay home and relax. I’ve been terrified to leave my house, but I am equally afraid of the ramifications that come with staying inside. I miss my friends dearly and wish I could say I am too busy rather than too bored. That being said, the resilience I’ve seen in everyone, including myself in a way I don’t feel uncomfortable bragging about, has been inspiring. Quarantine has had its fair share of negative side effects, but I think it has presented a feeling of “we’re all in this together” that I have never felt before. When I chat with my friends for the umpteenth time about my problems and see them listen intently, it makes everything feel just a little bit better.

   This change is easy to make, but very impactful. When recycling, make sure you rinse out jars and other recyclable food containers. The rinse does not have to be perfect, but anything with excessive food residue cannot be recycled. Dirty items also risk contaminating other recyclables, so one dirty item has the potential to ruin a recycling bin, forcing it all to go to the landfill. But, as I said, this is an easy fix, so there’s nothing to worry about!

     To clean your recyclables, you can put water in it and swish it around until the majority of the food residue is gone. If it is a sticky residue, such as honey or jam, I like to fill the container with water and let it soak for a bit. 

     That’s it! Rinsing your recyclables is such a simple change, but it is so impactful. By making it a habit, we can greatly increase the percentage of successfully recycled items.

Especially with this pandemic going on, people are running out of ideas on what to do at home. Besides baking banana bread, oversleeping and engaging in heavy exercise, what many individuals decide to do is online shop. There’s essentially no drawback to online shopping. You can make fun purchases while also maybe supporting a small business. That being said, your finances can also suffer if you shop too much. Here are some of my favorite tactics to use when I shop in order to buy what I want but not spend too much money.

1. Use reputable and reliable websites.

  • This is not crucial since most websites that have good clothing may not be known, and sometimes small businesses are not known, so they are seen as not reputable. With that being said, be sure to do your research and find a good website that seems legitimate. 

2. Try not to impulse buy. 

  • Whenever I shop online, I really try to think about whether or not I absolutely want or need this clothing. I often leave the stuff in my shopping cart for a day or so, which gives me enough time to decide if I really want this top or these shoes. Another thing that helps me is to envision myself wearing said item; if I am not sure that I will like it, I won’t get it. Sometimes you’re surprised, but your intuition is usually correct; it’s often not worth buying something you’re not 100% sure about. 

3. Consider thrifting! 

  • Some websites are super expensive and people can’t justify spending so much money on certain items. Thrifting is a great way to save money on nice clothing. Now, it is very hit or miss, and you can’t really expect to find something. You also can’t really expect to come back and find it, because it might not be there. One time I went to a thrift store in Santa Barbara and found a cute pair of shoes but didn’t buy them because I was a few dollars short; when I came back, they were gone. You might have to expect this to happen. With that being said, thrifting saves a ton of money, helps the environment, and is a wonderful way to spend a day. You can also thrift online if you look hard enough; Instagram is all the rage to find thrifting accounts. 

4. Know your size.

  • Before you buy, MAKE SURE TO KNOW YOUR SIZE! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought clothes that don’t fit because I didn’t know my size. It’s hard to plan for clothes that have different sizing, but be sure to utilize size charts and use your best judgment. Don’t buy something that won’t fit because it’s the only size; it’s better to try your luck somewhere else.  

5. Familiarize yourself with return policies. 

  • If something happens where you don’t like the clothing or if it doesn’t fit, it’s important that you know how to return or exchange it. Nobody wants to keep something that doesn’t work for them. You can always donate or sell your clothing, but it’s often best to try to return the item so that you can get your money back or purchase the style or size you desire once you find it. Sometimes it’s hard to find return policies, and some companies have none. Just make sure to do your research!

6. Use coupons.

  • If you’re the type who often shops online, you might find that your bank account is being drained quickly. The best way to keep yourself from spending too much is to use coupons/cashback services. Honey and Ebates are some that I use. They find coupons for me and give me cash back on purchases respectably. Credit cards also do this too, depending on the card you have. This is a given that you will save money, and you don’t have to do too much work! Make sure to install Honey on your browser and connect Ebates to your bank and get to saving! 🙂

By Marieli Rubio

As appealing as working and studying from home seemed, it has posed various obstacles for college students. Adapting to virtual learning has taught young adults to be flexible, and above all, deal with ambiguity. As uncertainty continues to prevail with internships, an on-campus fall quarter, study abroad, and so much more, students are faced with elevated levels of stress and frustration.

young couple wearing medical masks with laptop and smartphone on city street
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

The global pandemic has made it difficult to focus and seek out opportunities that were once there. We are fortunate that technological advances have allowed us to continue with the pursuit of knowledge, yet we realize it is difficult to replace face-to-face learning and communication. Here are a couple pros and cons I have observed and experienced as a rising college senior studying engineering. 

CON – Loss of sense of independence 

College is viewed as a place where students are responsible for self-regulating their time, health, and money. It is a time of exploration, adventure, and learning about one’s passions and goals. Moving back home, after developing a routine on one’s college campus, is challenging.

We became accustomed to eating with our friends at the dining hall, staying up studying at the library, and going to our weekly club meetings. While those activities have transitioned online as well, we now have to align our schedules with family dinner time and responsibilities at home. Our parents and siblings are constantly asking us if we have finished assignments and at times invading our personal space. 

four person standing at top of grassy mountain
Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

PRO – Family time and Home-cooked meals

You have to admit nothing beats a home cooked meal after eating lots of hamburgers, pizzas, and the not so nutritious food offered at dining halls. We no longer have to swipe our cards to eat, but are instead provided with the food available at home. You are also now required to participate in family movie nights, board games, and best of all, household chores. 

people around a table with food
Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

CON – Screen time and Focusing Challenges 

Most college students are described as sitting in front of a computer screen at a coffee shop, at the library, or under a tree. While college students access their textbooks online and complete the majority of their schoolwork on an electronic device, lectures on-campus were a time of the day where students were able to engage in class discussions or manually take notes from the chalkboard in the front of the room.

Now that lectures are all online, screen time has significantly increased and students have found that their majority of their day is spent sitting and staring at the computer screens. This has unfortunately led to a more mundane schedule, where students robotically complete assignments online and are left with strained eyesight at the end of the day. 

man working using a laptop
Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

PRO – Learning at one’s own pace and independent learning 

As an engineering student, I have been accustomed to solving challenging problems in small groups and constantly swinging by my professor’s office to ask pending questions. With virtual learning, this is not the same dynamic. It is now required for students to email and constantly communicate with professors, whether it is providing feedback about how the material is being presented, the amount of workload given, and overall expectations.

Pre-recorded lectures allow students to watch the videos at any time of the day, helping students to complete their schoolwork at their peak energy, and are held more accountable for submitting assignments on time. We no longer can depend on our classmates to re-teach us a lesson, but rather have to figure out our most effective note-taking and studying strategies. 

gray double bell clock
Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

Many students across the globe have very different circumstances, and the transition to online learning varies across educational levels. My experience as a college student during this time does not apply to everyone, but only offers a glimpse of the benefits and difficulties I have experienced thus far. 

This transition to virtual learning has truly been a learning curve for both professors and students. The biggest takeaway is to be patient and appreciative of the opportunity to still pursue one’s degree and being able to communicate with classmates. As we know, this too shall pass. Our college experience may be cut short, but we are becoming more resilient and adaptable to the coming changes.

high angle photo of boy using imac
Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

For more of Marieli’s work, head to her blog here

By Andy Chau

Soon, I will return to Isla Vista with only one goal in mind: to move out. Once everything is packed up and I am ready for my journey home, I will have basically ended my academic career. I would say the class of 2020 was reluctantly forced to “retire” or graduate early after only two years. No more late night library sessions, no more drunken runs at Freebirds or International, definitely no commencement and concerts on bucket lists. Everything is on hiatus until this virus is miraculously eradicated. How did 2020 become the first leap year to leap into BS? 

A part of me is relieved that I can rescue the rest of my dust collecting belongings but a part of me knows I will long for IV for a long time. I guess I fell for the common pitfall of taking things for granted. As surreal as it is, I can’t believe I’m saying this. 

I’m sad that I didn’t get to leave UCSB on my terms. The string of events were slowly becoming a separate chapter that defines the two years of my presence. I know it’s not too late and coming back as an alumni is always an option, yet this whole ordeal with the coronavirus has made it bittersweet. Despite the short duration, I had many aspirations to finish my journey with a bang. Now, I will be moving forward with plenty of “what ifs” and regrets about not doing enough. 

While things won’t return back to a certain “normal,” I’m happy to know that there were at least a good amount of memories I can reflect back on. Besides, two years can fly by so it’s only fair to be involved! The more I think about it, the more I figure out how many experiences I will leave hanging. Likewise, I can’t control what’s beyond my capability. Maybe I can extend my college career by one more year, who knows (it’s expensive though). 

Although this isn’t an official goodbye, I would like to dedicate my gratitude to the following: Alpha Phi Omega [Psi Chapter, Pi Class of Fall 19,’ and Jenny C. (my big)]; Kapatirang Pilipino (KP) [James H. (my big), TUF Fam]; Santa Barbara local photographers; healthcare + frontline workers; my parents; the UCSB Transfer Center; my best friend Michael; UCSB’s Davidson Library; and the entire IV community. Without them all, my college experience would have a lot of missing pieces. It would be absolutely boring but it was not. Obviously, I feel a need to finish what I started but I would rather be safe than sorry. 

To UCSB, I have no clue where to begin. Over the past two years, it has been a literal roller coaster of character development and mistakes. It would be an understatement to admit that I wanted to drop/transfer out and experienced multiple panic attacks because I thought I made the biggest mistake of my life. I lost a part of my identity, became confused, dug myself a deep hole and slowly crawled my way out. The process wasn’t easy and for a while I felt constantly trapped. Did I fail? Yes. Was it painful? Indeed. Somehow, I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I fought everyday to redeem myself. The repetition of schoolwork and responsibilities challenged me but after every quarter, I stood firm. Santa Barbara, I haven’t scratched the surface of my potential. After all the suffering, I have much more to accomplish. For now, I will be content with ending it in June but I promise I will be back. Farewell UCSB, and until next time.

Photo courtesy of Sam Phelps

My acoustic guitar is older than I am; a gift passed down from my aunt during the summer I turned fifteen. I spent hours sitting at my desk, teaching myself with Google, manipulating my fingers to stretch just right to get the trickier chords. I was never great at guitar, but that was fine by me; I just liked to sing in my room, strumming along to my favourite songs with chords that might not have been entirely correct. 

As high school wore on, my guitar sat untouched for months, and then years. It was only once I was nearly 21 and the pandemic hit that I had reason to give my hobby another try. This time, I would be better. This time, I had help. 

Max Kerman, frontman of Canadian rock band Arkells, has taken to flattening the curve in his own way. Every day at 1 pm EDT, he takes to Instagram live with his guitar to teach viewers how to play different Arkells songs, before allowing fans to join him on the livestream to ask questions or make requests. 

I first saw Arkells in concert in Calgary, February 2019. My long-distance friend Kira flew in from Vancouver on a whim; we had both heard their most recent album and rather enjoyed it, so we figured, why not? What we didn’t know was that we were about to see the best live performance of our young lives. From that night on, we were hooked. The experience both strengthened our connection as friends, but solidified Arkells as one of Canada’s best musical talents, in my humble opinion. From there, Kira and I went on to see them at One Weekend Only, an intimate win-to-get-in show unlike anything we had ever seen before – or ever would again.

Kira (left) and I from the front row at One Weekend Only. Photo courtesy of Sam Phelps. 

Arkells, named after Arkell Street in their hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, is made up of vocalist Max Kerman, guitarist Mike DeAngelis, bass player Nick Dika, drummer Tim Oxford and keyboardist Anthony Carone. They’ve been on the music scene since 2006, releasing their first album, Jackson Square, in 2008. Like many first albums, Jackson Square packs a punch with classic rock influences in the raw vocals of “Oh, The Boss is Coming!” and songs like “The Ballad of Hugo Chavez” sprinkling in a touch of Motown (And yes, The Ballad of Hugo Chavez is about the Venezuelan President as a political prisoner.) Since then, Arkells have released a total of five albums: 2014’s High Noon won them the Juno Award for both Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year, and their most recent release, Rally Cry, has taken them on a Canadian Tour that featured their largest performance to date at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. 

But it isn’t just their well-crafted lyrics and performance energy that make Arkells special. They are known for their fantastic fan interaction. With nearly 100k followers on Instagram and 75k followers on Twitter, it would be easy for fan messages and tweets to be lost to the void of the internet, but they like and respond as often as they can. And, with COVID-19, are taking these interactions one step further with their online music classes. 

The first class was on March 14th and followed a simple layout: Kerman taught the chords to And Then Some, which had also been put to paper and posted to Instagram by Carone, and from there he nervously opened the livestream for questions. 

“Okay guys, I’m really trusting you here,” he said, evidently nervous. 

But the live question segment went fine, and continued to go fine because when Max Kerman asks you to behave on Instagram live, you don’t want to let him down. 

I was a lucky viewer who got to ask Max a question. I asked if they let people know when their names end up in songs. He told me that nothing they write is scathing enough that they have ever had to.

The next few days covered some of the big hits like Leather Jacket, People’s Champ, and recent single Years in the Making, and as time went on, fans were treated to deeper cuts such as Making Due, Heart of the City and Hangs the Moon. Another added treat is that Kerman began inviting special guests to join in that he himself would interview. A particular highlight was Tessa Virtue, who inadvertently confirmed her relationship with hockey player Morgan Reilly, and child fashion icon Dylan, who managed to upstage Kerman with his impeccable style and confidence.  

Kerman is also using his influence to make social change. Arkells partnered with RBC to raise money for Food Banks Canada. Fans were encouraged to upload a picture or video of their creative endeavours from quarantine with the hashtag #ftcmusicclass, and RBC would donate $100 for each tag, up to $25,000. The money was raised within days. The band has also released a limited edition Arkells x YMCA T-shirt, from which all proceeds will go to the agency’s online programs. 

My days don’t have much structure anymore. I’ve been laid off from my job, and my university classes are done for the semester. Just a few months ago, I barely had time to sit down and breathe and now I have all the free time in the world. It has been a peculiar adjustment, to say the least. But it’s comforting to know that every day, without fail, I can pick up my guitar and learn something new from my favourite band. 

By Jay Abdella

When gyms are closed and working out with your friends is not an option, what do you do? For myself and other students at my university, twice a week, we are treated to Zoom Yoga by my friend Melanie Adams. Adams, a certified instructor-led a power hour yoga class every Monday while school was still in session. Melanie’s goal is, “to provide yoga to other people in a high quality and accessible way.” Her classes are often the first time a student is exposed to a structured yoga regiment. For those who do not have access to a structured fitness program, yoga is a great way to dip your toe into exercising.  

Many college students are drawn to yoga because of its accessibility and lack of equipment. Many people equate exercising with using big fancy machines or running for miles on end. With yoga, all you need is yourself and a small amount of space around you. Due to this, yoga is a highly accessible recreational and athletic option for many students and adults!

 Melanie’s classes allow students both new and old to stretch out, relax, and become one with the universe. As someone who flexibility is close to zero, having a chance to stretch out each week was a great weight off my shoulders. In addition to taking the weight off my shoulders,yoga has strengthened both my muscles and my endurance, traits that are important for my primary sport; Karate.. For those still in school, yoga has benefits between different athletic fields. For instance yoga promotes flexibility in your muscles which are beneficial to those who are involved in projectile sports such as throwing basketballs, baseballs or any sort of flying object.

Melanie Adams’ class poses for a picture before class lets out for Spring Break. Adams (Front and center) has been leading classes at Clark University since September. (Photo Credits to Melanie Adams)

Adams began her yoga journey, taking her first yoga class in high school. It was there where she found herself connecting with her teacher Casey on a deep level. [add some description]“My teacher, her name was Casey and I have been practicing with her for almost five years now. She has really inspired me over the years through her teachings and having a relationship with her,” said Adams. Through her relationship with her teacher, Adams began to think about her future in yoga. The summer before Freshman year, she found herself hunting for opportunities for certification. Eventually, after surfing the web, Melanie took the biggest leap of her life so far; investing $3,000 of her own money into becoming certified as a yoga instructor. 200 hours of yoga training later, Adams walks out with her own certification to teach.

When students received the notice that Clark University was moving online and all athletic programming was being suspended, Melanie sensed a problem. Many students that attended her class throughout the school year had no access to yoga from home. In addition, she was concerned that the connections she had made with her yoga students throughout the year would fade away “I had certain student relationships with the people who came to my classes every week, and I was worried about when school was closed having those relationships put on hold, so I started teaching the classes on zoom so that I could still have a weekly connection and still be a part of those peoples wellness routines even though it is in a much different way,” said Adams

Now, Melanie hosts yoga sessions twice a week for students who are interested in continuing their weekly stretch-out. On Mondays, it’s Happy Hour Flow (Destressing), and on Wednesdays, it’s Rest and Restore (Finding Your Inner Self). 

As she has transitioned to online yoga, Adams has found that it helps her keep a connection to those who have attended her classes in the past. While zoom powers this connection, online classes only go so far. Adams laments that some participants have their cameras and microphones muted so that she can’t make sure they are properly following along. She also has found that she can’t be as emotionally invested in her classes as she was back in school. 

“I feel like I can’t get as emotionally themed in my classes because I don’t know whether people have a place to work it out after class is over. I have to find the balance between talking about real issues and knowing it could trigger someone to have a worse experience after class and not being able to help,” said Adams

Adams leads a free yoga class near her home in Massachusetts. (Photo credits to Melanie Adams)
For now, as we all sit in isolation, at least for a few days a week, we can stretch out, relax, and pretend that the entire world isn’t falling to pieces around us. If you are interested in joining Melanie’s class, it is every Monday at 5 pm Eastern Standard Time and Wednesdays at 7 pm Eastern Standard Time. For those who want to get their stretch on, here is the link to the classes! Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/9697543823 and the access code for the room is  969-754-3823.

By Mia Foster

   It is easy to feel lost and powerless during this shut-down, as we derived purpose from the daily routines we structured, the work we did, and the social lives we tended to. Without these identifying factors to cling to, a majority of us, myself included, have had difficulty reshaping our identities and finding the motivation to work on something new. However, we must adapt to this new format of our lives. As the world we knew came to a stop, so did many of our dreams, aspirations, and projects–but it doesn’t have to stay that way. American professor Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky said it best; “some of us may wonder whether it is feasible or even possible to continue striving toward our goals during times of crisis…but commitment to goals during such times may help us cope better with problems” (Lyubomirsky 207-208). If you are feeling purposeless, lost, or sluggish, you are not alone. Feel what you feel–your feelings and emotions are valid. Once you are ready to take action and begin to feel better, creating goals that truly interest you can reignite a fire and provide a sense of purpose. We are going to take the leap from thought to action and start our own Passion Projects!

What is a Passion Project?

     Simply put, a Passion Project is a project that you do because you want to. This want is not the desire for the instant gratification of a piece of chocolate or the purchase of a luxury item; it is, as Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. explained, a goal “we pursue out of deep personal conviction and/or a strong interest” (Ben-Shahar 72). A Passion Project is enjoyable during the process of completion, and the project, most importantly, is meaningful to you. Getting started on work that energizes you and matters to you personally can be a daunting but extremely rewarding process. The hardest part is leaping from thought to action, but it is entirely doable with guidance, support, and the bravery that you’ve been saving for “someday.”

Thought to Action

     I have recently had an experience I’m sure many of you can relate to. It was nighttime and I couldn’t settle on something I wanted to do, so I resorted to scrolling through Twitter. I read the Tweets of politicians I felt were blatantly lying about the state of coronavirus in the United States, and their supporters simply lapped up the lies without a second thought. My rage consumed me– in a government where the truth was not valued, how could I manage to make a difference through logic and reason? I felt unrepresented and powerless, like nothing I did would allow me to share my ideas and be listened to by politicians with differing viewpoints. I felt that the partisan divide in our country barred me from having legitimate discussions with half of the population. I wondered why I felt so powerless, and then it hit me: I had all these passionate beliefs inside of me and did nothing with them but leave them to fester. I never did anything about the things that upset me, but I expected my ideas to be considered nonetheless. If you need a kick in the butt to get started, like I did, author Mike Dooley phrased it perfectly: “Intent, or thought without action, is not enough” (Dooley 80). It’s time to act!

     Passion Projects are a way to pursue something that brings you joy while restoring a sense of purpose. As Coronavirus cases slowly skyrocketed in my home state of Washington, I began fundraising for Washington Youth for Masks, a nonprofit focused on purchasing masks for hospitals in Washington, a few weeks back. I fell in love with the project because I found its mission compelling and mainly because it provided the purpose I had been lacking. There was work to be done, and I refused to be complacent as I watched others in my community fight the virus on the front lines. Fundraising might not be your cup of tea, which is ok; this is something that excited me. Your Passion Project will be tailored to you and your interests. A direct benefit of having a long-term goal is that its “pursuit provides us a sense of purpose and a feeling of control over our lives” (Lyubomirsky 206). To regain footing in the new lifestyle of a world in lockdown, a personalized goal is necessary.

How to Craft a Passion Project

     Your Passion Project is yours–you have total autonomy. I am providing suggestions I believe are helpful for success and fulfillment, but ultimately, you have the power, and I’m excited to see what you do with it!

     Here are some tips for creating a project you find inspiring and fulfilling:

  • Think about issues or areas of interest that truly excite you. Do you like writing? Gardening? Music? Math? When watching politicians, what issues do you really care about? What policies do you support? What do you wish was different about your community? What do you enjoy that you want to share with others?
  • Choose your project based on what you want.
  • “Your priority should be to discern which goals will make you happy in the long term and to follow them” (Lyubomirsky 206). 
  • Find a project you will enjoy working on- “when goals facilitate the enjoyment of our present experience, they indirectly lead to an increase in our levels of well-being each step of the way, as opposed to a temporary spike that comes with the attainment of a goal” (Ben-Shahar 70-71). 
  • Take your interests and the thoughts that ping around in your head at night and brainstorm ways to put them into action. Avoid self-judgement here- we seem to have taken the “why not try?” approach with our hair during quarantine. Let’s apply this ambition to new, courageous projects! We’ve all got time, nothing to lose, and so much to gain. There’s no better time to go for it!

Making Abstract Concepts Concrete

     At this point in the process, you have thought of something or multiple things that you care about that energize you. Hopefully you have some ideas forming about how to act on these interests. If you don’t, it’s ok! Back up a little, continue brainstorming, and be gentle with yourself. If you do, it’s time to pull the concepts out of your imagination and put them in a tangible form; tell someone you trust, type it out, make a list. I personally enjoy using whiteboards for organizing my thoughts. By being able to physically see them, I can focus on the logistics of bringing my ideas to fruition instead of focusing my energy on trying to remember my ideas. Most importantly, by taking your thoughts and putting them into some format outside of your head, they feel real. A Passion Project involves goals, not daydreams. Your ideas deserve to be actualized!

     Once you’ve finished moving your thoughts out of your head and into the physical world, you can begin to plan the physical actions you will take to bring your project to life. Focus on the small steps so it isn’t overwhelming! All you need is a few small ideas to get you started. Trust that you will continue to find new ways to further your intentions as you go. I find that writing this part out is beneficial as well, but do whatever works for you! Here is an example of how I am currently pursuing a Passion Project:

My interest: Politics and Government

My desire: To be able to make a positive impact on the lives of Americans through government

How: Get involved in local government

Getting started: Email a state senator and see if internships are available

Future: Who knows? It is ok to not have the entire project planned perfectly. By giving myself the freedom to continue planning and inventing as I go, I can enter the internship with an open mind and make the most of the opportunities I find. 

     Of course, this is easier said than done. It took a tremendous amount of courage to step out of my comfort zone, which is talking about what I care about but never doing anything. Taking the step of sending that email was the hardest part. I had to believe in the validity of my goals and my ability to achieve them. This type of step is much easier with someone beside you!

Involving Loved Ones

     We are social beings. The support of those we love is important to us–so ask for it! Tell those close to you about your plans so they can provide encouragement and hold you accountable for following through. They can celebrate with you when you hit ‘send’ on the email and remind you why the project matters when you are feeling down. Don’t skip this step, it is so important!

Taking the First Step

     This is truly the hardest part of the process. Remember why you want to do this. Write it where you can see it. There’s nothing to soften this–take the plunge! By doing this, you become the driver of the car instead of the passenger. You no longer wait to see where life takes you, but choose the destination yourself and drive. You have so many wonderful things to accomplish. Your future self is looking back at you and smiling, grateful for the day you took the leap and took action. Let’s go!

Conclusion

     Before doing any work on your Passion Project, make it a habit to remind yourself why the work matters to you. When you care deeply, you will find an unbreakable dedication. The people who make a difference and experience fulfilling success are just as human as you and me. There is nothing holding you back from making a positive impact on the world! Remind yourself this: the work you do matters, and you matter. It is much easier to follow through on a plan when you approach it with love instead of fear. Do it because you love it, and always remember that love. 

By Mia Foster

A rubber band on a glass to mark whose glass it is.

     The concept of a wine-marker is quite logical; as all glasses look the same, a person puts an attachment on their glass so they know which one is theirs when they put it down. I have taken to applying this principle to water glasses. In my family and many other families, all our water glasses look the same. This leads to an excessive number of glasses in the dishwasher since no one remembers which belonged to them, so they grab a new glass from the cabinet instead of continuing to use the same one. Some may also grab a random used glass, not knowing who drank from it previously, and use that. In a global pandemic, that is incredibly unsafe. By simply making your glass identifiable, you can reduce the number of dishes you have to wash and the spread of germs within your family. I guess you could say it’s killing two birds with one stone (my mom would say petting two bunnies with one hand because the other saying makes her sad). 

Marking your glass is extremely simple- grab a rubber band and place it around your glass. It is of no cost to you! I will use my glass for a week or so before washing it- you can choose how long you go, but since it’s just water, you can reuse it for at least a few days. This is a very simple way to reduce your dishwasher use, saving water, electricity, and time!

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.

  By Molly Rosenfeld

You might have seen the “10 Day Performer/Artist Challenge” circling on Social Media. “Every day, select an image from a day in the life of a Performer/Artist: A photo from a day you felt fierce or a memorable moment you’ve had during a practice/performance/show, or anything else meaningful to you. Be active, be positive, be passionate… Raise Awareness of the Arts!” The idea was that you nominate a person a day, but no one ever nominated me. 

When my college, San Jose State University, canceled classes due to COVID-19 in early March, my parents decided I’d be better off at home in Southern California sooner rather than later. I changed my flight back to Long Beach to two weeks earlier than planned. Stuck at home in parent-imposed isolation, I was more than a little bored, so I was trying to find productive things to do. I had access to old photos, and I decided to nominate myself.

Music has been an important part of my life since I did “Music Together” classes with my mom as a toddler. I started violin lessons at school in third grade, and switched to cello seven years later, at the end of ninth grade, my freshman year of high school. 

Molly holding a violin, March 2012.

I had a lot of fun picking out photos, ranging from a shot of me sitting at my grandmother’s piano when I was two, to the yearbook photo of one of my school orchestras. For the tenth and final day, I wanted to do something to tie it all together. With a lightbulb moment of inspiration, I pulled all of the paper concert programs I had saved. There were a lot! I was able to fit a decade’s worth on the family coffee table, 2007 to 2017. They represent my growth as a musician,  and the journey of a lifetime.

Programs for talent shows at Emerson Parkside Academy Charter School, held in the Millikan High School auditorium, to performances as an intermediate “All Star” and Chamber Orchestra Violin III at Leland Stanford Middle School. Then to my one concert as an eighth grade second violinist in the Ohlendorf Orchestra, the middle school Honor Orchestra for the Long Beach Unified School District. It was the first, last, and only time I received city-wide recognition. I was too busy to audition for the high school honor orchestra in ninth grade and tenth grade, not invited to participate in eleventh grade, and was an alternate as a senior, so I wasn’t able to rehearse or perform.

From programs for concerts of original scores of Sibelius and Tchaikovsky at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, before I thought I’d ever have a chance to play music at that level, to accompanying Zigeunerweisen, violinist Christina Eastman’s Senior Solo, to my grand cello debut at fifteen. To the conspicuously absent year that was 2014, the darkest year of my young life. For reasons beyond my control, I was forced to stop playing, and it was devastating. To my comeback at seventeen. This collection ends with programs from the first three shows of Orchestra at the Beach, the long awaited official second orchestra at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach. I had the honor and privilege of being a founding member during my early years of college. 

I didn’t include programs from choir concerts or studio recitals where I performed solo pieces. Honestly, they’re not as important to me. Singing has always been more of a hobby, and I take more pride in the music I’ve played collaboratively.

Without orchestra, I’d have a giant hole in my life and heart. I’d feel unfulfilled and almost empty. As a tiny and eager eight year-old with a half size violin, I never imagined that a decade later I’d be a cellist in a university orchestra, but I never stopped doing what I loved; sharing my musical gifts with anyone willing to listen. 

Last April, all of my figurative blood, literal sweat, and occasional tears of frustration tangibly paid off. I was accepted to the undergraduate music program at the School of Music and Dance at San Jose State University. I’m currently pursuing Bachelor of Arts degrees in behavioral science and music. Sometimes I still can’t wrap my head around that. I’ve felt pure shock and disbelief, and awe. I’ve been proud, angry, and sad. I’ve waited, persevered, and triumphed.

I find myself spending a lot of time reflecting on my experiences in orchestra, but rarely appreciating the whirlwind they have proved to be. COVID-19 has forced me to stop and think about how lucky I really am. I found my greatest passion in grade school and held on to it. I’ve been so fortunate, in all but one year since, the only things that have stood in the way are my own feelings of “Maybe there’s a better way to spend my time” “This isn’t worth the work I’ll have to put in” and “I’ll never be good enough”. I’ve pushed through. I’ve spent nearly two-thirds of my life as a true musician, and there’s not a chance I’m stopping now. I’ve decided to pursue a career in music therapy. I can’t wait to combine two of the things I love the most: music and helping others become their best self. 

Thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey. As always, to Cecilia Tsan, my cello inspiration. The first performance of Kol Nidre was all that it took for me to fall in love with cello, even though my brain needed time to catch up with my heart. To my classmates and fellow ensemble members who have become some of my dearest friends, and all of my teachers over the years, and to my family, for the unwavering support you’ve given me. I love each and every one of you, and appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. I always have, and I always will.

Molly holding a cello, May 2017

By Mia Foster

 As we are constantly inundated with news about imminent climate change, Greenhouse Gas emissions, and waste, it is often easy to feel hopeless in aiding the fight against climate change. While it can feel like we are the victims of the corruption of corporations and government inaction on the climate crisis, we each have the opportunity everyday to reclaim the story and put forward our own efforts towards leading more sustainable lives and lessening our impact on the environment. 

     The purpose of this thread is not to convince you of the reality of climate change. If you do not believe in it, I suggest doing an independent study. Make sure to consume information on the issue from many different sources so you may form your own opinion after getting a comprehensive overview of the science and arguments made by all. Reading the opinions of those you don’t agree with can never harm you! There will be a list of links at the bottom to begin your reading.

     Sustainability Saturdays is a weekly publication that will include small tips on how to make your everyday life more sustainable along with the occasional recommendation of books or studies to read. Who knows, I might even do a weekly challenge every once in a while! By making small changes in your lifestyle, your impact on the environment can significantly decrease over time. To chip away at climate change, we must collectively change our way of living; but collectivism must start with the individual. Join me as I learn new ways to make my life more sustainable! 

Climate Change Information Station:

Climate Change: How Do We Know?

The UN on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

EPA: Climate Action Benefits Report

By the Numbers: How the U.S. Economy Can Benefit from Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Sustainability Sector Provides 4.5 Million Jobs in US

How fortunate is it that I am still allowed to go to work during this pandemic? I am deemed an ‘essential employee’ – laughs – in this time of crisis, though I am nothing more than a barista at my local drive-thru only coffee shop. Fortunately, my risk of exposure to COVID-19 is very low. I get to come to work and see my friends, talk with my favorite customers, share a cup of joe with those who need it most, and fill my day with smiles, laughs and, most importantly, caffeine.  

If I am so fortunate, though, why do I feel so cheated by the CERB?  

The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB, is absolutely necessary during COVID-19. $2000 every four weeks will help Canadians pay for the necessities of life and will lead to a faster economic recovery once the pandemic settles down. The importance of this plan cannot be understated, and the speed and efficiency that the CERB has been implemented is remarkable. However, for essential employees who continue to put themselves in harm’s way during this pandemic, the lack of benefits received is truly unfortunate. 

                       

Take grocery store workers. The tireless work of these employees has been a sight to behold since the pandemic started, and how important they are to the community has been exposed in full. Heaps of praise for their hard work has been rightfully given, but the fact remains that they are overworked and overexposed to COVID-19. They are in desperate need of more help, as ads plastered over social media social-media saying “Join Our Team” indicate, but ask yourself this: would you really want to work for $2500 a month while risking serious exposure to a terrible disease when you could stay home and earn $2000 a month? Countless Canadians are currently at home, able to work, but the risk of exposure to COVID-19 can hardly justify earning an extra $500 a month. There may be those who disagree, and that is entirely their judgement call to make, but I know personally that such an offer would not entice me towards applying.

These are essential employees, among countless others, who are facing the pandemic head-on and providing the best services they can at the time when we need them the most. And while praise and thanks are absolutely necessary (and thankfully being given out by millions of gracious Canadians), these people deserve more. 

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has proposed that the eligibility criteria be dropped for those applying to the CERB so that everyone who needs help will get access to the CERB (Campbell, 2020). His proposal included recently-graduated students, previously unemployed Canadians and people who earned less than the $5000 application minimum over the previous 12 months (Campbell, 2020). While I agree with all these above, I also believe that the CERB should be available to those who are still working. I think it is safe to say that those who are putting themselves on the frontlines of this pandemic everyday deserve more than just heartfelt thanks from Canadians; they deserve financial support during this time. Allowing a universal application for the CERB would provide every Canadian a hand up in this trying time while providing a financial incentive for those of us who are fortunate enough to continue being employed. Every Canadian would stay financially afloat, and those who can work would be incentivized to do so. While unquestionably costly to the Canadian government, it is a cost that would keep the economy going, help to build a stronger foundation for the post-COVID recovery and, most importantly, would help those who deserve it the most. 

Reference: 

Campbell, C. (April 11, 2020). Burnaby’s Jagmeet Singh demands Trudeau ‘scrap’ CERB criteria. Burnabynow. https://www.burnabynow.com/news/burnaby-s-jagmeet-singh-demands-trudeau-scrap-cerb-criteria-1.24116538

P.C: kc0uvb

COVID-19 has had disastrous impacts on college students’ mental health. Students now must figure out the next five months of their lives as colleges have forced people to return home or stay in one place. For many people, just being isolated can exacerbate anxiety and depression. For myself, I handle my anxiety by talking to and helping other people with their own mental health struggles. One of my favorite things to do to help people is, simply, to hug them. Whenever I hug someone, I imagine hugging out the negativity and self-doubt of my friends and absorbing those emotions into myself. Like kidneys filtering out blood, I like to think I can filter out my friend’s negative emotions without weighing myself down. Sadly, with COVID-19 forcing everyone to isolate, hugs are impossible. Now, whenever I see a post from a friend who is having a bad day, my heart aches for them as I want to hug the sadness out of them. All I can do is message them and let them know I am here for them. Texting them, unfortunately, only does so much. Words help, but the act of hugging goes so much further, especially when it takes days for people to answer. Without being with my friends in person, I feel powerless to help my friends, and through that my anxiety is slowly edging back to my periphery. While I feel this, I have found a new way to help other people through text.

One thing that I found to be helpful during this time is to reach out to those who are younger than us. I have reached out to people I know who are still in high school who are probably just as terrified of their future as we are. High school seniors who have worked for three and a half years and have made it to the fabled Senior Spring, only to have it ripped away from them two and a half months before they would be finished. At my high school, the seniors would perform a show during senior spring, all run and produced by the students themselves. As of now, the show is postponed until late May, but at this point, it is a major possibility that students will not go back to school this year. The implications of that are massive. No walking across the stage at graduation, no saying goodbye to your teachers, no smoking cigars with friends after graduating, nothing. To come all this way and not being able to be rewarded for your success is nothing short of heartbreaking. While we are mourning the loss of our spring semesters and time that we could be spending with our friends, seniors have lost their final hurrah of high school (I’m not forgetting college seniors either, you guys deserve everything too), and they need someone who will comfort them in their time of need.

-My friend and I during a highlight of senior spring: The Senior Cruise

By being a figure in these people’s lives, either older or younger, it provides meaning in our lives despite us not being there in person. For myself, in addition to staying in touch with my college friends, I had a long talk with a camp co-worker until five in the morning. While I did not interact with her as much in high school or at camp, it felt good to be able to talk and be hopeful towards the future. While COVID-19 has changed the dynamics of how friends can help friends, you can always get in touch with those who are younger than you. If you do, you might find yourself making a difference in their lives! 

By Colleen Boken:

If you have ever traveled on the train between Boston and New York, chances are you have stopped briefly in the small city of New London, Connecticut. Located on the glistening shores of Long Island Sound, New London is home to the US Coast Guard Academy, Connecticut College, Mitchell College, and a whole host of small-town businesses. It is a town rich in nautical history, and is the kind of place that would seem right at home in a Stephen King novel.

I have been serving here as an Americorps member with the New England Science and Sailing Foundation, serving in the schools and getting an understanding of the integral structure that makes up the city of the sea. Therefore, when the coronavirus came, it forced us all to reexamine what it was about living in a small town that made it so much more different from other places around. 

It is important to note that I love everything that makes up a great, small town.  Walking down Bank Street, the main commercial hub, the variety of businesses making it their own is undoubtedly what makes it a town like no other. The two-story buildings that line the river and the railway tracks are usually bustling, with all sorts of emporiums plying their wares. There is a gay bar, a cute little coffee shop with memories of times once past, a few barbershops, a museum in the oldest operating customs house, and even a number of tattoo parlors.  On a usual Saturday, from nighttime to daytime, these places are bustling. Students, locals, people who came in on the train, and the occasional submariner from the nearby base turn bank street into a party alley.

It was right before Saint Patrick’s Day when the coronavirus pandemic became serious enough to the point that the governor of the state had no choice but to order all businesses closed.  It was a day that the town had been anxiously preparing for, with parades and all sorts of events planned, only for it to suddenly come to naught. I live downtown, not far from Bank Street, and with a view that tells a story of its own

I took time to walk down Bank Street that night, and what I found summed up many of the feelings that are being reflected in towns across the nation. Bars and restaurants that should have been bustling with people eating corned beef and listening to Irish pub music were instead graced with only the sound of the sea breeze and the occasional “toot toot” of the train. No lights were on, and a few places were doing take-out, but not many. In many ways, it felt like the town had become a ghost of itself, and it was quite easy to wonder if it was the end of the small town as we knew it.

Yet there is something to small towns that many people do not realize. When things like this happen, towns like New London do not just disappear. Instead, the people that make up a place like this find ways to remain positive. They bring forth a reminder of the good we can do if we just remember that we as a whole are a community–a community that needs to stand tall together.

I have had the great fortune of becoming friends with the local event planner extraordinaire. She is one amazing lady, and she embodies so much of what makes a small town wonderful. She recently began posting signs around New London: little reminders to thank the first responders who were helping everyone get through these unpredictable times. 

In addition, a firefighter who was back in New London decided to share some happy music with the good people on the street he was on by playing his bagpipes loud enough so that everyone could hear: a welcome surprise it was, and a needed one at a time when the sound of happy music was a welcomed addition.  

I have spent many years in small towns: growing up in one, going to college in another, and now serving for a year here. The small town is more than just a small gathering of people. Rather, it is a solid community that is built so strong that even when something like the coronavirus threatens the fabric of the town as a whole, it fights back even stronger. It may not be the biggest town in the world, but what is critical about the whole endeavor is that like many small towns, New London is built in such a way so as to thrive in the good times and show its strength when the going gets rough. 

On a personal note, I did not know what this town would be like. I had never even been to Connecticut before I took this position. What I have found is a place that does not care who you are, but instead on what you can do. It is a town full of pride and filled with hope. As you go on with your day today, think about your community–and how every place, big or small, has a chance to thrive even on its darkest days. 

Because when this whole thing is over, and when everything returns to some sort of normal, the communities we built will show us just what we can become. 

By Madison Kirkpatrick

When you’re a young kid in grade or middle school, you probably don’t realize the value of a dollar. My parents weren’t rich, but they were comfortable enough so that I didn’t have to work to get most of what I wanted. Even when my mom lost her job, she was able to bounce back into another completely different field. She ended up quitting that and now works in sales and makes more than we ever have before. I watched her struggle but didn’t really have to experience it. I felt bad at times when I’d watch my stepsisters juggle school and work because their mom is a teacher and couldn’t really afford to give them a lot of money. If they wanted money, they earned it. I never realized that my life wasn’t really like that when I was younger. 

When I got to college, things changed a bit. I finally decided I wanted to work because I had the schedule and I felt like I was ready for the next step. I’d wanted to work in high school but hadn’t had a lot of luck, which ironically was like a trend for my older brother and I. We were both interested in working but it just didn’t work out due to a lack of time, and my brother never heard back from the job he applied to. I applied for a job at a grocery store and got it. I didn’t really know how to start; I wasn’t used to working or a constant discipline. I was horrible back then and sometimes I hated myself for not getting work right away. There was some pressure to be good at the job, and even though I tried to give myself credit for being new, it didn’t get better for a while. However, I got better over time and eventually decided to work for my friends’ parents’ yogurt shop in the same plaza. This is where I feel like I started learning the value of a dollar. I saw my money slipping away because I didn’t know how to work with my money. After I left the grocery job, I stayed with the yogurt shop for a few more months. I was able to keep my routine of trying to save money, and though it wasn’t perfect, I stopped wasting a lot of money on stuff I didn’t need. I was able to save my money and prepare for an emergency, almost like I finally knew how to deal with the economy.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I had planned to start at UCSB, thyroid cancer caused me to go into treatment and defer a quarter. I didn’t work during that time or during my first UCSB quarter. To be honest, I hated it. I was bored and hated asking my parents for money. When I got a new job as a cashier I became happier; I craved the independence of working, as making my own money is so rewarding to me. I worked two jobs again for a while until I left the cashier job to focus on school and other commitments. Recently, I found out they were laying off my department at my job at the mall because the mall closed. I was already home but fully expecting to go back and it threw a wrench in my plans, making coming back to SB almost unnecessary. 

I didn’t know what to do. I was back home and had no money coming in. I only had school to look forward to. I’m glad I don’t work now because I wouldn’t have the time, but a few weeks ago it was a hard adjustment. I was used to working. I filed for unemployment and was luckily approved, and although I was grateful for the government help, I miss the independence that comes with leaving the house and going to work, talking with people, making friends you wouldn’t know otherwise, and being able to learn new things about the workforce. For me, the ability to work equals the ability to have independence. You can make new friends and people rely on you for something, but you can decide what sort of job you do. Also, when you make your own money, people can’t tell you how to spend it.

One thing I noticed, though, is that I’ve actually been pretty good with my money. Ironically, I’m trying to be careful because I don’t get a stimulus check and I want to prepare for an emergency. I have a lot saved and am trying to not spend too much, save what I spent for my laptop which was a necessity. I’m shocked at how well I’m doing. When I least expect it, I’m dealing with the economy pretty well and I’m as ready as I can be if an emergency arises. I hope I can keep going when this is all over. 

This is just part of my perspective regarding the COVID outbreak and its impact on the economy. I realize, though, that plenty of people, including students, will be in my position. I can offer three tips to people based off my experience. The first is to save. People are concerned with buying the newest items and not thinking about the future, but in times like this, savings can go a long way. The second tip I can give is to prepare for the worst; that is, prepare for not working. I didn’t think about not working and it was a huge change; I could’ve had a backup in case something fell through. Having something to do during this time can keep your sanity and make you think less about working. The last tip I can offer is to be patient. It’s hard right now and these times are unprecedented, but don’t stress! Everything will be okay, and you too can find relief during this time if you remain optimistic. It seems like a tall order but it’s possible!

By Rebecca Goldfarb

Growing up, I felt so trapped socially. I went to school with the same 150 people since kindergarten and was always looked at as “quiet, shy, and boring” by high school classmates, no matter how much I tried to lose that image. Day after day, I felt like I was constantly living in a bubble. Being socially contained like this for 13 years urged my drive to get out of Orange, Ohio. While I was in high school, I went on two school trips to Europe. I made so many meaningful friendships on these trips with people from all over the place. These experiences were life changing and from those moments, I knew I wanted to study abroad for a whole semester in college, as the best experiences are the international ones. 

In college, I was finally able to shave my whole high school image off and create a new identity. Going to college in Boston certainly helped, and I was also able to build a solid foundation of so many different friend groups, that I left high school completely behind. I worked so hard for the past two and half years to become an extrovert, to build this social circle, and to finally live life and enjoy being young. 

Junior year was the year of the unexpected. Both semesters turned into something completely different than I thought it was going to be, especially my semester abroad. It has been a few weeks since getting sent back from the United Kingdom due to the coronavirus. Even now, it is still so complicated to process the idea of having been abroad during a pandemic; the time where no one is allowed to travel. Yet, I still did managed to travel all over Europe during the time COVID-19 was slowly emerging. 

I still was able to get a solid two months abroad while traveling all over Europe, even with this crisis on the rise. These were the few months I set aside to do significant traveling and a once-every-one hundred year pandemic just had to come about during the three months I had selected to embark on this adventure. That being said, there are both upsides and downsides for having been abroad during this pandemic, mostly downsides obviously, but let me explain the true overall impact coronavirus left on my study abroad experience. 

Being abroad during this crisis allowed me to understand the situation in multiple international perspectives, especially in the way various European businesses and governments were reacting to the crisis. Had I just been in the United States, I would have only stuck to the knowledge of what my home state and the state that I went to college in was doing. Being abroad during an international pandemic allowed me to really integrate myself in seeing how these countries dealt with an international crisis. Having been abroad in London, I now follow updates in the U.K. and all over Europe to see what they’re doing to handle all of this, even when I’m no longer there. I probably would not have done that otherwise. 

Overall, my knowledge and interest in international politics has increased immensely due to the fact that I was abroad during this pandemic. I got to be experiencing the action, and compare the way the citizens of both the United Kingdom and the United States took precautions. Even when my program got cancelled, I still had to embark on an international flight home. Traveling internationally itself during this pandemic allowed me to brave it out, which enhanced the intensity of my journey home, as I embraced myself for the six hour customs line at the United States border. 

I still had other international trips within Europe planned for the remainder of my abroad semester that I knew I couldn’t go on. The European airline companies canceled these booked flights due to COVID-19. This was not only a relief, as it guaranteed I could get my money back, but it also provided me more with an international perspective of this crisis. It is unbelievable that I traveled to Italy on the last possible weekend I could have done it, right before coronavirus exploded there. It all sucks right now, but years from now when we look back at this pandemic, I can talk about how I was studying abroad during this crisis, I took risks in international travel and got to be in multiple different countries and see their perspectives on the issue. I can share this cool and unique story to others about the pandemic that many people wonder about. If I had to find any benefit of being abroad during coronavirus, this is what I can pinpoint. 

I was in Italy from February 20-23, the last calm weekend in the country before the virus took over. 

Granted, I still got two months in England and got to travel to five other countries, for which I am extremely grateful. I still feel as though I got the full study abroad experience despite being sent home a month early. I am also grateful that I was able to get home in time before travel restrictions were made, that I could be home with my family during quarantine, and that they’re healthy. 

I’m so thankful for what I did get to do while I was abroad. I absolutely loved living in South Kensington. From seeing 7 shows on the West End to watching the BAFTAs red carpet across the street from where I have class, it already feels like I have been living here for months already. While traveling, I was able to meet so many new people from all over the world in the most unexpected circumstances. From being stuck in the Budapest airport for two extra days to a random person coming up to my friends and I at a pub, asking us to guess a riddle about expired yogurt, these random situations turned into the most memorable ones. I went from being scared of staying in a hostel, to absolutely loving it. I loved meeting people my age and learning about why they were travelling and where they were coming from. I’m so thankful that I was able to travel to these places and get these experiences before the CV situation got bad in Europe.

That being said, I hate the fact that I had to get sent home from abroad and that this crisis had to happen right now. I went from living my best life to living no life at all. I came about many frustrations during my quarantine because I looked back at how amazing these experiences were and I was craving more. I wanted more experiences like these in my upcoming trips. I wanted to travel to the other places I was supposed to go to, so I could meet more new people from all over the world and see more new places. The more I started thinking about what I could have done if there was no pandemic, the more I wanted the original full amount of abroad time I was anticipating. I think what bothers me the most is the feeling that the universe just wants me stuck and isolated in Ohio forever.

Being sent home and into social isolation, I feel as though I am back at square one. Back to feeling stuck and trapped like I was in high school. Except this time, if I try to get out and be social and live life and have fun, I risk getting myself and my family sick, which is the most messed up part about this whole situation. This isn’t just my early 20’s, this is OUR early 20’s. We’re supposed to be traveling, going out for drinks, going to concerts and clubs, and making crucial social connections and friends that are supposed to last a lifetime. We’re supposed to be getting critical, career defining internships. We’re being deprived of precious college moments, some of the best moments of our lives so far. We’re only in college for so long, so who knows when we will have the opportunity to have experiences like these again? 

Tea and Scones at Wimbledon Tennis Stadium 

Everyone in the world is being screwed over in some sort of way or from some type of experience, from unemployment to a high school prom. It sucks for everyone. However, the pandemic has shown us the various ways things can be made up for. Soon, we’ll be out of quarantine and we will be able to get back the experiences that coronavirus ripped away from us. I will get out of Ohio and I will get the chance to see the rest of the world. And that’s what’s getting me through, to know that I can get back and finish what I started. I now have a greater motivation to make this a reality. Who knows how motivated I would have been to go back to Europe immediately if I was able to get a full semester. The idea of my travels getting cancelled increases my itch to get back into the world as soon as possible (and also my hostel vouchers expire in a year, so I have to go back anyways). 

This pandemic has also taught me to take advantage of any opportunities that interest you while you can, because you never know when another obstacle will sneak up on you and stop you from being able to do something. Be grateful for every moment you get to experience. 

Soon enough, the world will be operational again. If we want to make this a reality, it is crucial that we continue to stay at home and do our part to get life back running, so we can go back to living our early 20’s sooner than we think. A couple months on pause won’t seem like a big deal in the long run.

By Carmiya Baskin

It’s springtime in Florence, Italy. Rays of sunlight peek out from behind the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, the Arno River sways peacefully in the light breeze, and the typically bustling Piazza Signoria is void of human activity. This year, the atmosphere is charged not with the serenity that comes before the inevitable flocking of summer crowds but with the anxiety about a highly contagious virus that is rapidly traversing borders.

In the safety of her apartment, Danielle Cohen, a UCSB alum who moved to Florence in January to begin her new job, reveals how her life has changed since the virus took hold. She has just finished recording an episode of “Quarantine in the Kitchen,” a series she invented in which she documents what she is cooking that day and posts it on her Instagram story to keep both herself and her followers entertained — and sane.

“I feel more safe in my apartment here than back home in the States,” Cohen says, gesturing to her surroundings that fill the screen on Zoom. As of three weeks ago, private hospitals in Italy have begun offering free medical care to people who have contracted COVID-19. Cohen notes that returning to California would pose a greater risk as, throughout the whole nation, testing kits and proper treatment are scarce and safety measures are not being enforced. 

While rules for quarantining have been announced in the U.S., there are no centralized regulations. As Cohen states, “it’s all happening state by state, city by city, beach by beach.” She feels that the U.S. should initiate a full lockdown immediately and learn from Italy’s initial mistakes; at first, people in Italy were not taking the quarantine seriously, much like many folks in the U.S. aren’t now.


Further, Cohen claims that social distancing does not work. “It’s frustrating to watch the U.S. follow in Italy’s footsteps because we didn’t know what was going on a few weeks ago. Now, America has a country to look to for guidance — which Italy didn’t have — and it’s not encouraging a countrywide shutdown.” Although she admits she is lonely in her apartment at times, she feels that staying inside and away from people is the best way to protect herself and those around her.

“Italy’s numbers are finally going down and it’s because we’ve been on lockdown for a month,” Cohen declares. According to the World Health Organization, coronavirus, aka COVID-19, is an infectious disease that causes respiratory illness with symptoms such as a cough and a fever. Coronavirus spreads mainly through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze or when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.

“Italian people care about their communities and appreciate the safety measures that are in place,” Cohen says. Venturing outside one’s home in Italy is strictly prohibited and accompanied by a hefty fine of €3,000 if one gets caught. When asked what tactics she uses to cope with mental health issues (as fresh air is no longer an option), she describes her daily routine which involves dancing along to online Zumba videos, piecing together puzzles featuring Italian art, and video chatting with friends and family from home.

She has two white boards on the fridge in which she writes her daily to-do list on one and her overall goals on another. She adds, “allowing yourself to have bad days is important. It’s asking too much of yourself to assume that everyday is going to be productive. The first week was really hard — I went from working a full-time job and having housemates to not having any of that.”

Despite the hardships, Cohen notes that there are positive aspects to this pandemic that is quickly making its way around the world. “We’re letting our world heal and we’re letting ourselves grow.” As everyone is staying inside, the air pollution has decreased, the amount of fish in the Venice canals has increased, and wildlife has begun to thrive again. While it’s unrealistic to remain in quarantine forever, Cohen reminds people that they must be more aware of their footprint. This is especially important as the Environmental Protection Agency has suspended the enforcement of environmental rules due to the coronavirus outbreak.

She encourages people to take this time to learn a new hobby, rekindle old skills, and connect with loved ones. She says, “I’ve never been alone or inside for this long in my life… it’s kind of freeing. Going home would’ve been the easy way out but this [situation] is a new challenge for me and I’m learning a lot about myself.”

Cohen sums it up by saying, “I hope the rest of the world starts listening so this quarantine can end soon.”

Citations

Cohen, Danielle. Personal interview. 2 April 2020.

Kraft, Ariana. “EPA Suspends Enforcement of Environmental Laws in Response to COVID-19.” WNCT, 30 Mar. 2020.

Parodi, Emilio. “Special Report: ‘All Is Well’. In Italy, Triage and Lies for Virus Patients.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 16 Mar. 2020.

“Here Are Italy’s New Quarantine Rules on Jogging, Walking and Taking Kids Outside.” Thelocal.it, 1 Apr. 2020.

“Q&A On Coronaviruses (COVID-19).” World Health Organization, World Health Organization.

We come together in creative ways.  At the beginning of this pandemic, I had no perspective.  The only image I was ever able to create in my mind was this broken unrecognizable reality.  Globally, nothing was the way it was, and there was a major shift in everyday reality for everyday people.  Simultaneously, all of our lives were disrupted. As a community, we lost a lot. There was a period of time when we all started to pay attention to all the things we were going to miss out on.  Proms were canceled, graduations were destroyed, and people were physically getting kicked out of dorm rooms. Times were really dark for a while. As we began to settle in, our new profound realities scattered.  It got worse. Society was shutting down and the world was turning really dark.

It goes without saying that most of us took to social media—pain was felt and noticed on all platforms.  Frustrated by the lack of stability, we all fell into a vast global grieving process.  Anger from the lack of toilet paper. Anxiety by not being able to go outside. Fear from catching COVID-19.  It was terrifying. 

But something I noticed was that we didn’t stay there for very long.  Once we allowed ourselves to have an adjustment period for our new worlds of self-isolation, most of us got creative.  With the new and sudden boost of content on the internet, we tried to make the most out of it.

We came together in creative ways.  All across the planet, everyone was trying to help with this pandemic in every way possible.  We got fashion designers making masks and Shakira making hand sanitizer. My new favorite notification on my phone shows when people throw dance parties in their front yard.  The world is pretty cool. We’re doing some pretty cool things. I’m actively prioritizing my time to be here with all of you. 

I’m a 2nd-year college student from UCSB, so I live in Isla Vista—the most compassionate and united community I’ve ever had the chance to live in.  It astonishes me how other places aren’t like it. There is a standard of respect in the community.  We understand that everyone has their difficulties that life throws at them, meaning there’s no reason for why we can’t help them out.  They need to only ask, and usually they’ll find a helping hand. It’s a pretty cool place to live. 

I hope we continue to care for one another after all of this.  I don’t want the immediate response after COVID-19 to be a reversion to the hateful world that we were.  I want to see lasting change in the function of our societies. I want us to notice each other’s presence and respect them without question. That is what society should look like.  We have to get there. We have to use this to our advantage and plan and promote the societies we want to live in.  The only way through this all is together.  We got this. I love you guys.  – OG

by Mia Foster

As of April 10th, 19 states have extended school closures through the end of the school year, and all 50 states have currently mandated school closures, but not all have been extended through the spring (Nagel). These closures are imperative to efforts to flatten the curve, but the impacts on students’ academic progress and emotional wellbeing must be addressed. As a senior in high school, I have experienced this loss quite acutely. I can only speak to my experience, so I intend to inform you on how the closure affects the typical American coming-of-age experiences, how to support high school seniors around you, and ways to best replicate these quintessential experiences at home. 

chairs-classroom-college-desks-289740

What is Lost

I remember watching High School Musical 3 on repeat as a kid, imagining my own prom dance and graduation. I knew it wouldn’t be exactly as it was portrayed in the movies, but I didn’t care; I just knew that a similar experience was waiting for me. Growing up in America, those experiences are universal and anticipated. I used to try on my mom’s prom dress. I was so little that the heavy, peach-colored fabric drowned me. I put on her too-large heels and she curled my hair. I was a princess. My mom looked at me through the mirror and smiled. I always assumed I would have a dress in my closet that my daughter could try on one day, dreaming of her prom and feeling like a princess. 

Maybe it was presumptuous, but I just assumed I would get ready with my friends, put on my own princess dress, and dance. I assumed I would experience Senior Assassins and the All-Night Grad Party, which are traditions at my school. I assumed I would walk across the stage to receive my diploma as I saw at my brother’s graduation two years prior. And, mainly, I assumed I would live these experiences with my friends at my side. The losses experienced by the senior class are not insignificant. I know that I am not alone in my loss because many others are experiencing extremely debilitating losses during the pandemic, such as the loss of a job or a loved one. However, through some reflection on this tendency of mine, I realized that comparing my loss to others did not help my emotional state or that of others suffering. Seniors, your loss is significant. You have every right to grieve; it wasn’t just a loss of these ceremonies, but also a loss of their symbolic significance in the journey to adulthood in America. It is OK to be upset.

How to Support Graduating Seniors

  • Listen. Even if you don’t understand why this is so upsetting for the high school senior you are talking to, recognize that they did experience a loss and often want an outlet to vent their grief. 
  • Remind them that you are proud of the accomplishments they have made in high school. Often, a graduation ceremony is a way of congratulating and celebrating the hard work of students. Without that, students may feel a lack of closure and genuine accomplishment. Kind words can make a huge difference.
  • Validate their experiences. I personally have felt guilty for feeling this loss, and many of my friends have expressed the same feeling. Giving the person space and permission to feel what they feel can be very liberating.

Coming-of-Age: Quarantine Edition

The events that have been canceled cannot be perfectly replicated, but I believe that we should do our best to have our own ceremonies and celebrations to help fill that hole and provide some closure. My school has scheduled a virtual commencement ceremony, and when my family told me they wanted to make a party out of it (with just our family), I started to cry. They plan to make my favorite foods and spend the evening together. This is a simple, powerful, and attainable way of celebrating graduation. It obviously isn’t the same, but by treating it as a unique event instead of dreading it because of how different it will be, it feels a bit better. Some schools or private organizations are also trying to plan prom dances for summertime, should large gatherings be permitted. Another idea is to make graduation parties prom-themed, assuming that smaller gatherings are permitted before the fall. I can’t speak for everyone here, but I was mainly sad about not getting my own prom dress and the experience of getting ready with my friends. This option fulfills that desire!

Graduation, prom, and other senior-year events are part of the quintessential high school experience in America. While we cannot fix the loss entirely, by respecting the emotions of graduating seniors and doing what we can to replicate these experiences, we can hopefully provide some of the closure and encouragement most of us yearn for. 

accomplishment-ceremony-education-graduation-267885

Works Cited

Nagel, David. “Updated List of Statewide School Closures with Closure Dates.” THE Journal, 10 Apr. 2020, thejournal.com/articles/2020/03/17/list-of-states-shutting-down-all-their-schools-grows-to-36.aspx?m=1.

I have a distaste for the smell of spring. 

I know there was a time when it was different, and I cling to these memories with all my might. Wearing wind pants and blue rubber boots and sloshing about in the puddles that overtook the path behind my childhood home. Marveling at the consistency of mud, how there was truly no color so pure as it. Even in my older years, driving with the windows down just enough to offset the endless winter I was accustomed to, but not so far that a passing car would accidentally splash my interior. 

The springs of my adulthood have been far less magical. In March 2019, shortly before I turned 20, I was more depressed than I had ever been in my life (which seemed to be a record I broke every year). I don’t remember why, and perhaps it’s because I’ve simply chosen to forget. But I’ll never forget how I felt. Every step felt like a marathon. The inside of my head was blurry, I didn’t eat, and I cried nearly every day. Tasks like getting off of my couch for a cup of tea felt insurmountable, so I finally stopped trying. There were, of course, the terrible thoughts and breakdowns that come with all bouts of mental health problems, but I had never felt so physically ill before. 

I got bloodwork done, desperate for an answer. A nurse called me a few days later. By this point, I was completely bedridden and had long since called in sick to work. I answered the phone from my daze, not bothering to sit up. 

“Did you know you have mono,” the nurse asked after the exchange of pleasantries. In spite of myself, I laughed, relieved to have a reason for my misery beyond my usual mental health problems. 

For the remainder of the school year, I practically lived on my couch. I would interval studying for finals and taking naps. I begged my boyfriend to get tested, but he refused. My antagonizing roommate would not even bring me a glass of water on the days I was too dizzy to walk down the stairs. I had never been so miserable in my life. The only things that had managed to bring me some sort of comfort were cracking a window to breathe in the fresh spring air, which once brought me so much solace, and drinking cups of tea to replace most meals. 

beverage-blur-breakfast-cup-370018

One year later, everything is exactly the opposite. 

It was a winter of change; I broke up with my boyfriend and my mood improved immensely. I live with three roommates, all of whom I love, in a beautiful house that we rent. My writing is being published more than ever (frequently), and I am finally being paid. I secured a coveted summer internship. I am excelling in my classes. 

And then I don’t get sick, but the rest of the world does. 

In February, I will admit that I was part of the group of people who wondered if the mass panic around COVID-19 was being blown out of proportion. At this time, Canadian cases were sparse. I wasn’t vocal about my bewilderment, but I did silently resent that I couldn’t use my to-go cups at coffee shops and that my upcoming work event might be canceled. 

Within weeks, I didn’t have a job. I canceled my upcoming trip to Europe that I had spent months saving for. My parents weren’t allowed to leave Saskatchewan to come see me in Alberta. I wasn’t allowed to go five blocks over to see my baby cousin. 

I now know that the mass panic was not blown out of proportion. I wash my hands whenever I touch something new. I bleach every surface of our house relentlessly and only leave for the essentials. I am one of the millions of Canadians who have applied for Employment Insurance (EI). I am trying to make the best of it, but the world remains so uncertain. This is not how I imagined my twenties. 

I know I am fortunate in many ways, but in times of loneliness, I can’t help but mourn not what I lost, but what was just within reach. And as a snowy Alberta winter melts away, I am once more trapped inside my house, with only the smell of tea and a hesitant spring to tether me to reality.

Seemingly overnight, the American academic system shifted for the worse due to COVID. Classes moved to fully remote instruction and students were forced to use their resources in order to succeed. Not everybody has the necessary resources, though. My laptop doesn’t work anymore and my best friend doesn’t have a laptop. It seems like this is the best route to go but this situation seems to favor students who have resources. I’m definitely fortunate in that I’m able to afford another laptop because of my financial aid check, but not everybody is so lucky, and resources are dwindling.

Online classes are certainly not optimal for most students. The likelihood that you have a concern with the material and can’t get in contact with a professor is high. I was waitlisted for a class and never heard from the professor, only to learn that the school wasn’t in contact with her about the waitlist. For students with learning disabilities, like another friend of mine, it can be even harder to succeed in an online setting. I wish there was a way to make online more accessible, but there’s unfortunately not, and students are suffering from this pandemic.

Financial aid and rent are also something I think about. I’m trying to sublease my apartment until June, but with the pandemic, people unfortunately aren’t interested in moving. I feel bad for the people that absolutely cannot afford rent due to being laid off from jobs or other personal circumstances, but it’s hard to get out of rent without breaching some sort of legality issues. I’d rather not pay rent for a place I’m not staying in, so I might just go back to Isla Vista for a month and a half. I really love my apartment and my roommate (it’s my stepsister!) but I also like the lowkey life I have in my hometown. Financial aid is important because students are paying to essentially teach themselves class material and still have money put towards on-campus resources (at UCSB, this includes the Rec Center and the library) that aren’t being used because they’ve closed down until further notice. A student at my school started a petition calling on the administration to reconsider charging students these on-campus fees, but no progress has been made. However, the petition has a lot of traction so I’m confident that the administration will rethink their charging habits. 

You might be wondering, how does this affect my academics? Well, it’s mostly about the uncertainty of the situation. I don’t know when I’m going back to Isla Vista and that makes me nervous. My new laptop is on the way, and I need to be able to use that in order to access my classes since propping my iPad up on my laptop in order to see the screen just isn’t cutting it LOL. The issue is, I don’t know when it’s coming.  It makes me nervous that I might have to go back and not have the new laptop I’ve been looking forward to buying since I was 20. In addition, it can sometimes be hard to focus because my dad often calls me when I’m in class and gets angry when I don’t respond. My brother plays loud music, and my mom is definitely a lot more polite about it but sometimes she doesn’t understand the concept of my education as well. It’s hard to make people realize that this is not a vacation for college students, and some people maybe never will.

Finally, because I didn’t want to take classes after I walked, I realized this quarter that I had to take 20 units in order to be ready for graduation.  I was afraid I’d lose that motivation. However, with graduation being postponed, it came to me that I didn’t have to take 20 units this quarter.  Rather, I’m now essentially stuck with these classes. I guess it’s my fault for failing a class last quarter, but I learned my lesson. With online courses, stress seems to increase and teachers don’t account for the change in instruction. They’re doing their best but some just don’t really care and it makes me sad.

Overall, I’m really not trying to blame anyone. This is a national pandemic that nobody could have prevented. It’s just unfortunate that so many students are suffering. I just wish there was a better way. 

By Mia Foster

     Teenagers are often characterized as apathetic and self-interested, and this generalization has been amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. TikTok videos of teens licking toilets or making racist jokes about the virus took the internet by storm, as well as infuriating reports of irresponsible teens treating school closures as an opportunity to spend time with friends despite social distancing and stay-at-home orders. These events spark anger, as they should, but the overwhelming response to the selfish actions of a minority of teenagers overshadows the selfless dedication of many teens to be a part of the solution to the pandemic. 

  A prime example of selfless acts by teenage activists is Washington Youth for Masks, a fundraiser founded by four young women attending Issaquah High School. This nonprofit, grassroots initiative began in Issaquah, a suburb outside of Seattle that has been hit particularly hard by the virus. The founders, Angelina Chin, Claire Kang, Faith Lee, and Isha Rudramurthy, saw the initial impacts of COVID-19 through their extended family in China, Korea, and India and felt personally compelled to take immediate action. The mission of the initiative they created is to raise $25,000 to order 50,000 masks for 4 hospitals in Washington State, all while promoting youth advocacy and involvement in the fight against COVID-19. In a time of heightened anxiety and distrust, Washington Youth for Masks is an agent of unification for passionate teens as well as a reminder of the undying determination of the next generation to take action to make the changes they desire to see.

What is Washington Youth for Masks?

Washington Youth for Masks is a nonprofit started by and run by teens who are working diligently to provide masks for healthcare workers faced with an alarming shortage of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). A MultiCare hospital nurse in Tacoma “said an ICU nurse will often go through 36 masks in a 12-hour shift and is now being asked to use a single one through the same span of time” (Crowe). Without the essential PPE to follow typical sanitation procedures, healthcare workers on the front lines are at a direct risk of contracting COVID-19. This creates both technical and ethical problems. If healthcare workers get sick, there would be no one to care for them or the other patients. Most importantly, healthcare providers are sacrificing their time and safety. The least we can do to thank them is provide them with protection. 

Masks being distributed

     On April 1st, Governor Inslee announced that “we rather urgently need to increase the stocks of personal protective equipment” (KING 5 Staff). This is the exact goal of Washington Youth for Masks. Donations are used to purchase FDA-approved masks through the Well Klein factory in China. As explained by the founders of WA Youth for masks, “international business export of masks is very difficult and unsteady, but China does allow shipping via FedEx or DHL in small packages to any US residential address for personal or small donation usage,” which is why independent organizations are necessary to procure PPE. Additionally, this initiative allows for the timely delivery of PPE, avoiding the often excruciating wait for a government response when there is no time to waste. The first shipment of 10,000 masks was sent out on April 1st, and will be delivered to Harborview Medical Center, UW Medical Center, EvergreenHealth Medical Center, and Swedish Hospital in Issaquah. This organization was founded on March 28th, 2020, and by midday April 1st, it raised around $8,600 and had over 170 members from across Washington, with no sign of it slowing down. 

Accountability

Donating any sum of money to a nonprofit means putting your trust in the good will and organization of its members. When I first found the GoFundMe for WA Youth for Masks, like all others interested in donating, I wanted to ensure that the money I gave would go to use. The founders, also known as board members, anticipated this desire for information and have included proof of FDA certification, receipts from orders, and pictures of the delivered masks on the GoFundMe, Facebook, Instagram, and website as a way for those who donate to ensure their money is put to use. The connection with factories in China was secured by Board Member Angelina Chin, who had connections with them previously through the Issaquah Highlands Chinese Heritage Club. After becoming a team member, I have become even more sure of the dedication and genuine intentions of the teens in the project. They are working around the clock to cover all bases, from the technicalities of ordering masks to the recruitment of new members to email updates to members with essential information. I received one of my first informational emails at 1:30 am, which is a small testament to the tireless board members who are putting all of their time and energy into this initiative. 

FDA Certification for MG Surgical Masks

Q&A With Founder/Board Member Angelina Chin

Mia: How was the concept for this initiative conceived? 

Angelina: Ever since school closed, I’ve been working alongside my mom and the Issaquah Highlands Chinese Heritage Club (which I have been part of since I was like 9 because my mom founded it) to secure and deliver masks from China. The club coordinated the donation of 1000 surgical masks, 1080 N95 masks, 50 coveralls & 200 goggles to Swedish Hospital’s Issaquah campus on March 19. The majority of this was coordinated by adults in the community, but it inspired me to get a group of young people together to show that the youth can make a difference too. I’ve also been privileged enough to sit around in my room binge-watching Netflix shows and scrolling through TikTok the entire day while our front line healthcare workers were struggling and were in desperate need of PPE. So instead of lounging around and doing nothing, I wanted to use my loads of free time to give back to those people in any way I could (very cheesy but true), and I knew many other people wanted to as well. 

Mia: What sets WA Youth for Masks apart from other nonprofits?

Angelina: While I’ve seen many nonprofit organizations and fundraisers raise money to supply masks, I’ve never seen a completely youth-led effort in Washington. With the power of social media among other things, it’s surprising to see the impact our generation can have if we all work together and commit to a cause. And so far it’s working! In just 4 days, we’ve expanded to over 140 representatives from all over Washington and we expect to see a lot more people joining the effort. Each member is sharing the campaign with their family and friends, making the number of donations grow day by day. 

Mia: Why is it necessary for individual citizens to fund and procure masks instead of relying on local and federal governments?

Angelina: Due to supply chain limitations and the global scale of the virus, Washington hospitals are currently experiencing extreme shortages and very slow processing times for equipment sourcing. Also, according to many news sources,  many hospital workers have gotten in trouble for speaking out about the shortage of PPE. It is up to public initiative now – our campaign can get masks to hospital workers faster than local and federal governments can.

Mia: And lastly, why is this project important to you?

Angelina: I’m extremely passionate about giving back to the community and have great respect and admiration for health professionals who are sacrificing their well-being to help others. With my extended family living in China, I have a deep understanding of the concerns and fears that our community is going through right now – and the frustration surrounding the lack of PPE for health care workers. I am fortunate enough to have connections with large medical supply manufacturing companies and instead of doing nothing about it, I want to use the resources I have to help with whatever is needed. We are all in this together (again cheesy but true).

Conclusion

Washington Youth for Masks is a one-of-a-kind initiative that is spreading awareness to other teens, uniting them under a common purpose, and empowering the next generation to take action in the face of uncertainty. It is a direct means of supplying hospitals with the masks it desperately needs. Most importantly, it is a community created by the commonality of those who care deeply about this situation and want to be able to do something about it.

Get Involved

There are many ways to get involved:

  1. Make a donation to this GoFundMe directly. $5=10 masks!
  1. Become a team member/representative! This is only open to youth, as this is a youth-run operation. Responsibilities include fundraising, recruiting 1 new team member, and applying your passion and creativity to forming your own type of fundraiser or marketing format as you see fit. To become a team member, fill out this form.
  2. Whether or not you are able to be a representative/team member, we would still love your help spreading the word. Share the project with family, friends, and colleagues. Each donation has a major impact!
  3. Utilize your talents to fundraise. Some team members have been making and selling friendship bracelets. My project was this article!
  4. Educate for a cause. We have partnered with TeamUnited, an organization that offers tutoring services. They have requested donations to Washington Youth for Masks in exchange for tutoring sessions. Offer your time as a tutor or utilize their services for tutoring to support Washington Youth for Masks while promoting educational continuity during school closures. Facebook and email address below!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/T.E.A.M.Uniteds/ 

Email: teamunitedihs@gmail.com 

GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/washington-youth-for-masks-covid19-support-fund 

Website: https://wayouthformasks.wixsite.com/website 

Facebook page

Instagram: @wayouthformasks

By Andy Chau

Bored? Still need NEW things to do? Look no further!

  1. Watch the “Tiger King” docu-series on Netflix (if you haven’t already)! 

Tiger King documents the journey of Joe Exotic and his run-ins with an interconnected society of supposed “tiger conservationists.” You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to watch it! 

  1. Reorganize your room.

Don’t go Marie Kondo mode and throw away everything! Only declutter what is necessary and take it slow to ensure you don’t throw away anything precious/valuable. If you need assistance, check this out: Abundantly Minimal

  1. Send a cheer card to a special patient!

The isolation occurring from shelter-in-place orders has significantly limited the amount of visitors allowed at hospitals. Why not send a positive note to a patient, especially to kids in need? 

Go to the link and send one now! Send a Cheer Card

  1. Learn what items can be composted. 

Apparently, there are 163 things and MORE you can compost on your own! *DISCLAIMER* PLEASE look into other ecological sources of sustainability. 

Follow the link to know more: 163 Things You Can Compost

  1. Watch the entire “Everything Before Us” series from Wong Fu Productions (cuz why not?) 

From cheesy lines to serious moments, Everything Before Us captures a society in which EQ gives advice for everything in your life from college admissions to securing a loan. Watch it now before it becomes offline again!

Everything Before Us | Chapter 1: Everything Before Us | Chapter 1

  1. Start becoming financially responsible.

It’s not too late to start your emergency funds or pay off your student loans! Whatever your financial situation may be, right now is the perfect time to trial and error your budget while planning for the long-term. Here is an article from Ally Banking to help with your budget planning: Savings by Age: How Much to Save in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and Beyond

  1. Create art from magazines. 

Nowadays it seems as if art has become an underrated venue for expression. We have our photographers, but where are the painters, drawers, visual artists, and others? Well, you can become hip by collecting or reusing magazines. You can then clip the magazines and piece them together as some form of artwork. It is up to your imagination and creative drive. Give it a try and post it on your social media. 

  1. Volunteer for Be My Eyes

Seeking to satisfy your samaritinary desires? Want to volunteer but can’t do it in-person? Be My Eyes is an app that has you register as someone in need or someone who can help. As someone who can help, the app lets people in need call you for assistance amongst their everyday tasks. To learn more, Google search “Be My Eyes” and click on their official website. It’ll direct you to their About page and FAQs if needed. 

  1. Polish your resume. 

The job market for 2020 will be difficult to navigate. Luckily it won’t stay that way for more than a year and, regardless, this is the chance to be proactive. Being proactive can start with polishing your resume. If your resume is outdated, filled with unnecessary content, or is missing key descriptions, then go, go, go! 

  1. Take 10x More NAPS!!! 

Don’t feel like doing anything? Go ahead and take those naps. Rejuvenate yourself and try again. No one is stopping you except yourself!! 

Many of us are graduating into one of the worst job markets in history, at a time when lots of organizations are on a hiring freeze. Society as a whole is changing as a result of being in a COVID-19/post-COVID-19 era, and the generation coming out of college is stuck right in the middle of it. It seems to make sense that we will at least have our homes to unwind in, somewhere to go that will always be a place of safe haven. The places that feel like they are ours; that in some way they are integral to our stories as human beings. Yet what is home? Can it be defined as just a place where you sleep? Does it have to be?

Most people will tell you a house is a home. Yet this concept of home limits the very definition, as for some people a house is not a place where they can go to relax. Whether that be because of internal pressures, or exterior, where you sleep may not be where you relax. And what about the people for whom their house has changed throughout the years? In the last six years of my life I’ve lived in five different “houses” for varying amounts of time. From houses, to dorm rooms, to an apartment in an old warehouse, or an old duplex, all of these places have been places that I’ve laid my head to rest in, yet are all of them home? For many young people taking whatever jobs they can, their house may be too new to be considered a home.

What if we expand it? For many of us, our hometown is the place we grew up in, the place that formed our first memories. For me that was South Pasadena CA, a small town in the middle of Los Angeles. It is the kind of town Hollywood uses when they want something midwestern and small. It has got a wonderful little main street, with brick lined buildings only one or two stories tall. A Carnegie library sits just off mission, and the clang clang of the train rushes through the town on the regular. It is a peaceful escape from the insane world that is Los Angeles, a forgotten haven in a city of traffic, smog, and celebrities. I can name a number of places, some of which have changed over the years, where my attachments are more than solid. I consider them as much my home as my house. Yet something is still missing. In this case we need to look towards the oceans, and some adventures that lay along it. 

At work, when we were asked where we were from, others said specific cities and towns. Yet for me, home is the west coast. I grew up in LA, spent a summer working in the bay, and for four years attended school in the Pacific Northwest before taking a job in New England. That is a huge span of space, far larger than a house, but with specific reasons, for which we have to go north, to a little town in Washington state. 

As I mentioned I grew up in LA, but I spent four years in the Pacific Northwest, in a little town called Walla Walla. Unlike the town I grew up in, Walla Walla was best known for being near nothing at all. Surrounded by wheat, grape fields, and onions, it was a town rapidly changing. The downtown, which had once been all but abandoned, had been taken over by the rapidly growing wine industry. Some call it what Napa Valley looked like 50 years ago, still early in its development. I attended Whitman College, a small school located on the top of main street and three miles from the airport. I worked in the gallery and student center, lost many hours of sleep in the library, participated in a number of organizations and most importantly, came out as a transwoman. As a result of the support I received from so many wonderful people, I went from dreaming, to living in reality. Hallways became the places where I celebrated, and where I went to think. I studied the past, and realized that it would become my future. I joined a sorority, after years of considering it impossible. I curated, or helped to curate, two full exhibitions, one entirely mine, and the other as a part of a team. I even helped to run the tabletop games club, and played some club softball in the rain. These moments cemented Walla Walla and Whitman as a kind of home for me, even if I lived in three different places in my four years there.

Add in things like an In-And-Out burger, saying “The” in front of freeway names, laughing when people from the east coast talk about their “mountains”, or memories munching on some of the best Asian and Mexican food in the country, I am forever marked as being a west coaster through and through. Unfortunately, when we limit it to land and physical property, we leave out the number one thing that allows us to feel at home in the first place. And perhaps our memories can lead us to the answer, something that we are all searching for. 

All of these are focused on land, but isn’t it as much about the people that made us who we are as the adventures we had on the way. Any of those coming of age movies will tell you that it isn’t as much about the space that you occupy, but about the people that you do it with. Saying that my soul resides in the west coast is true because I have left part of it with the people I love. The people who I will travel across the country for a week, taking 20 hours to do so, just to see their faces in person. I did just this in February, traveling further north into the bitter cold because I couldn’t handle going a year without spending time with my sisters, my friends, and my chosen family. I spent that week sleeping on a beanbag in a friends house, and visiting with old friends. Many times I’d be walking along and suddenly I’d get ambushed by someone, as if I was everyone’s queer aunt returning home. While I was here I got an acceptance letter to the University of Washington, and it was here that I cried tears of joy again, another memory at home. 

Home is about the people who make our lives worth living everyday. It is about the smiles, the laughs, and the moments of joy, as it is about the sadness, the grief, and the scary moments. Home is emotionally tied, but in a way that ties the physical to the self. South Pasadena is great, but I miss Hotbox Vintage, the shop I’ve spent so many happy hours in. Not necessarily because of the shop, but because of the friends I have made through it. The owner with whom I’ve shared many laughs (and expanded my wardrobe extensively) and who made me feel comfortable in my identity as a transwoman before I came out at Whitman. She lets me hang out there, in exchange for helping to put things on high shelves that at 6ft 3in, I can reach. I love everything about it, and there is a reason that I included it here. It is a store that is the definition of a hidden gem, and one that I return to on every occasion back in LA. Despite never sleeping here, I consider it home because of the culture that she has crafted within, one that makes you not only feel safe, but also welcomed (and when she reads this, I promise you I’ve meant every word). 

So when you think of home, don’t forget to think about the people that make it possible to come home to relax. The people who will welcome you with open arms, and with whom your memories will be shared with forever. The people you chose to be with, the ones who you’ll fight for on a minute to minute basis.  These are the people that you think about when you think of home. It is not about the physical places that make up our homes, but in the memories and people that fill them. These moments are the ones that help us grow, and the ones that make us different from everyone else. In the end, a house may be a home, but a house without the people who helped to build it is a house without a home.

When good friends Arya Rao and Kanav Kalucha were sent home early from Columbia University as a result of COVID-19, the computer science students knew they weren’t done putting their education to use quite yet. From their homes in Michigan and California, respectively, Rao and Kalucha noticed that many citizens in their hometowns – particularly the elderly – were already making masks to donate to frontline workers. With technology at their side, the two realized they had the skills to speed up the donation process, and just like that, the Mask Up initiative was born.

 

Co-founders Arya Rao and Kanav Kanucha

             What started as a two-person effort has now amassed over 100 volunteers to make and deliver masks to frontline workers. “There are a lot of organizations that have PPE shortages,” explains Rao, “and while this isn’t a substitute for that, we can reduce the risk for some of the people who are fighting this pandemic.” 

            Becoming a volunteer is simple. Go to the Mask Up website and enter your location, and how many masks you will be able to make. You will then be matched to the nearest healthcare organization. Additionally, essential services and organizations can request donations through the website as well. Since its inception, Mask Up has been able to provide masks to the New York National Guard, the Public Transit Unit of the North-Eastern United States, and dozens of hospitals and care homes. 

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Some of the masks that have been made and donated by volunteers. 

            Initially, it was a struggle to leverage the technological aspect. While younger generations are no strangers to social media, the majority of Mask Up volunteers are the elderly, who are less familiar with the world of technology. Rao quickly realized that while Facebook, Instagram, and a website would reach a younger demographic, the best way to spread the word is through good old-fashioned newspapers, and other local media outlets. “Lots of cold-emailing and cold-calling,” Rao recalls with a chuckle. 

            The Mask Up initiative will continue for as long as necessary. Until then, Rao explains that their only goal is “to continue to service the needs of the nation.”

            “This pandemic is really throwing all of us for a loop right now and I think the first thing we want to do is provide a little good and a little light in the world.”

 

By: Abbey Roth

May 25th, 2020 is a day that will be written in the history books: the day America was awoken in a way it has never been before. The unjust killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd within three months acted as the straws that broke the camel’s back in a long history of disproportionate harm to the black community in this country.  Protests in every state ensued shortly after the death of George Floyd, manifesting themselves as  beautiful displays of the power of the rage and hurt that an inherently discriminatory society has birthed inside the black community for nearly 400 years. For the first time in many young peoples’ lives, they are being forced to confront their individual complicity in a deeply white-centric and racist system. It has introduced the dire need for self-reflection and contextualization of everyone’s privilege.

The product of this much needed self-reflection has reared its head in public social arenas; social media has been overwhelmed with black squares, attention-grabbing infographics, and lengthy paragraphs full of statistics and opinions. The Black Lives Matter hashtag has been used over 21.9 million times. The awareness of police brutality, racism, and white privilege is expanding, knocking on the doors of those who have been able to hide away in the comfort and familiarity of their online social circles. While there’s no doubt that opening up the opportunity for discussion is crucial to breaking down barriers and deconstructing our defective system, we must examine the genuinity of the common Instagram story. Can the occasional post truly ever be enough? In order to answer this question for yourself, you must consider the poster’s intention, past behavior, and their concerted efforts beyond the social media sphere. 

Any intention other than to educate, to spread awareness, to convey hurt and anger, to present statistics to support a fully-believed argument, or to amplify Black voices, feels disingenuous. Posting to be included in a viral trend needs to be seen as an insidious act, as it seeks to feign support for a cause that desperately needs genuine involvement and commitment. It does not exist to be paraded on your feed. It exists to bring to light the injustices institutionally built into our nation that have cost real human beings their livelihoods, their lives. The poster who suddenly appears as a vocal proponent of the issue after a history of silence, complicity, or blatant racism also must be regarded as suspicious; is what we are seeing representative of personal growth and education, or is it their underhanded attempt to blend in and erase their historical lack of empathy for people of color? Are our peers hiding behind a facade of social media activism to absolve themselves of guilt? In either of these cases, a desire to be accepted by society as conscious and empathetic of the plights of Black people overshadows their need to actually act to help resolve the issue. Both of these cases are unacceptable forms of speaking out. Beyond the poster’s own personal beliefs, we must be critical of the extent to which they actually support the cause they claim to. Sharing is important, speaking up is important, but action is imperative. To feel strongly enough to post, but to forego any further use of the same technology to enact actual change–to sign petitions, to share and use resources, to call and email local officials–is a flagrant expression of laziness, privilege, and discomfort that acts to undermine any support, fabricated or not. 

As a young mixed American woman of both White and Black heritage, I have felt an immense sense of duty to challenge myself to use my voice to have difficult conversations with my loved ones. To face those individuals who were responsible for my first-hand education of racism and microaggression. To scrutinize my behavior in hindsight; how I personally allowed these microaggressions to permeate while simultaneously using my comparative white privilege to duck away from uncomfortable situations while my Black brothers and sisters could not have had the luxury of avoiding this distress. For me, just a post will never be enough. Another’s post will never be enough.

However, one of the most genuinely touching things that I have personally witnessed to come from this is the massive outpouring of true allyship from around the world. Gatherings of people in every major city across the globe speaking out about injustices of their own is a profoundly important display that lets us know that America is not alone in its systemic racism and mistreatment of Black citizens. Not only are Black individuals in the UK, France, New Zealand, and beyond conveying solidarity with the struggles of many Americans, but they are using action and movement to express a deep empathy and understanding that should disturb us deeply, as well as inspire us to spark change beyond the Facebook wall and Instagram feed. 

by Fiona Rose Beyerle

Some may think landing an internship or job in college is impossible unless you have a stellar grade point average (GPA), outside connections, or amazing experiences. However, this is not true! Very few people are extremely impressive in every quality.  Think of it this way: you are not better or worse than your competitors; you simply offer different qualities. Sometimes you may not be what employers are looking for, but that does not mean you are not talented. I will be the first to admit that my GPA is not stellar and I came in with no connections or relevant experiences in my field when I started looking for my first internship at my university. Still, here are a few tips I have used that helped me land an internship in a lab my first quarter at my university, an undergraduate job in the health field, and some other opportunities! 

  1. Always be open to any and all opportunities.  

This is KEY!  Too many times when talking to my peers about gaining job experience, I hear someone say they are “waiting for the perfect opportunity.” Being open to many different opportunities will open doors for you. Waiting for one experience you think is “perfect” limits your potential. By choosing to wait for said experience, you may be missing out on other amazing experiences to help you grow not only in your field of interest but as a person. I am not saying that you should take absolutely any opportunity that comes your way, but when opportunities come to you, even if they seem trivial, give them a chance.  Do you have an opportunity to work in a lab, but it’s not exactly what you want to study? Give it a shot! Working in one lab could be the stepping stone to get to the kind of lab you want to work in.

2. Always bring a notebook to an interview. 

This is not my own idea, but I read this online somewhere and have been shocked at how rarely people actually do this. I am not joking when I tell you that at my last job interview (I got the job, by the way), I brought a notebook and the interviewers spent five whole minutes talking about how impressed they were that I actually brought a notebook and how I was the only person they interviewed for the job that did so. That may sound so minor, but trust me when I say that the small things add up! Showing a lot of interest in the job and bringing a notebook to write down questions or notes about the job will demonstrate how dedicated you are.  People will notice!  

black notebooks and packing stuff
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

(Bringing a notebook and taking notes during an interview is sure to gain you respect).

3. Always bring a book on another subject to your interview. 

This one may sound a little peculiar but I have actually found that this tip is a great way to showcase your diverse interests and skills. Employers and colleges desire well-rounded individuals, but it can sometimes be difficult to discuss other interests and talents in a short interview. I am a biological sciences major and art history minor and at all my interviews, the interviewers are always interested in hearing about my strengths in both seemingly different subjects.  However, this does not always come up in conversation during the interview. Because of this, I bring an art history book to the interview. By reading it while I wait and placing it next to me during the interview, it is another opportunity for employers to notice and ask about it. Try it! 

4. Always write a letter of intention. 

When applying for a job or internship, sometimes the company will ask you to write a letter of intention, which is essentially a small essay explaining why you want the job and what you can bring to the company. However, not everything you apply to will directly ask for this. Write one anyways! Demonstrating your desire to get this job will not hurt you. I often write about my previous applicable experiences, life goals, and how this opportunity will help me reach those goals. Be as clear as possible about why you think you are a good fit for the position and company. Employers will be impressed that you went the extra mile to show how much you want this position.    

crop woman taking notes in notebook
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

(By writing a letter of intention, you prove your interest in the position).

5. Never underestimate yourself! 

In your life, you have probably heard the saying, “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” This can be a good reminder for those who are sometimes overly optimistic; however, if you are like me, you may find it easy to doubt yourself when competing with others who may seem like a better fit for the position than you. When you catch yourself thinking negatively after an interview or when you are waiting on a response from a job, pause and remind yourself that everything will be okay. You are worth more than you think, and no one job (or loss thereof) will be the end all be all. Be confident and open-minded when applying, and do not count yourself out before anything happens. You will not be sure if you are chosen for the position unless you try.  

Thank you for reading my tips and I hope you find these useful for your next job interview or application process! As always, opportunities are around you if you do some digging and never give up! You got this!

 

by Lia Weinseiss

In the current times, it can be difficult to uphold friendships in ways that we have become accustomed to. We can’t share a dinner, go for drinks, and/or hang out at each other’s houses. It seems cruel that in these times when our mental health seems to be at its most fragile, we cannot even see a portion of our support system.

So what can you do? You can text, arrange Zoom calls, send letters, and send gifts. You can show your love and support by checking in every once in a while. While it is certainly a different, modernized form of friendship, it is possible. We do, after all, stay in contact with our home friends when we are at school and with our school friends when we are at home.

However, in these times when our mental health is so fragile and we are doing our best to keep our own heads above water, how much do we find ourselves with an obligation to ensure our friends are doing well? Is a weekly text enough or should it be daily? Are we bad friends if we can’t bring ourselves to do those Zoom calls?

man having a video call on his phone
Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

(Zoom is a popular method of calling, and people use it when they are distanced)

We are all going through different struggles, some of us more than others. “Family therapist Catherine Lewis says communication can be fraught when friends are experiencing the pandemic differently.” (Noveck, Jocelyn) If some of us are struggling more than others, it can often be difficult to have the will to reach out or even incite feelings of jealousy if some are dealing with isolation better than others. This can make it even more difficult to keep up friendships, especially if you are in the position of the one expected to keep up contact. 

Being alienated from friendships that used to be a part of daily life can create unexpected rifts because “people are now having to pick and choose what works in a friendship, and what’s maybe no longer a good fit.” (Noveck, Jocelyn) Without seeing people in person, we can easily read texts in a negative way or think that a lack of Snapchats means that a friendship is now lackluster or unimportant. A simple lack of communication can lead to rifts and the eventual fading away of a friendship. With extra time, self-reflection can help us realize that people who used to be in our lives may not have a place there anymore.

 To put it bluntly, this time can make or break a friendship; so, what are some tips you can use to stay close with your friends even if you can’t communicate with them?

  1. If you have a problem, address it.

In a time where verbal communication is one of the only tools we have, letting issues brew because it feels like there is more time to solve them is not the answer. Ignoring your friends or pretending things are normal will only amplify the issues – quarantine or not.

2. If you can check in, do it every now and then. If you can’t, let your friends know why.

Communication is key, though you are under no obligation to text your friends every day. That being said, in times when people are often struggling, texting a friend when you can will have an impact on their day. If you are unable to communicate daily, texting your friends and being honest can often avoid issues that are likely to arise by complete silence.

3. Set up Zoom events.

Though setting up Zoom meetings can sometimes feel like a burden, they can also be a beneficial way of bonding. A simple quiz as a reminder of enjoyable past moments can help bring back to life a friendship that feels largely online.

4. Set up a book trading system.

pile of books on green summer lawn in park
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

(sharing books is a great way to stay connected)

Being able to send books to one another not only lets you and your friends know what each other are thinking, but it also gives you more things to read and do. I’m not going to list out all of the benefits of reading, but it can definitely help.

5. Listen to your friends if you can.

If they are having issues, and you can take on the mental capacity to listen, do so. Talking out situations with your friends can often help strengthen a bond that might be fading because you cannot see one another face-to-face.

6. When asking friends if they have an ear to listen, ask if they are able.

Dumping issues on your friends when they are struggling themselves can create an unintended issue in a relationship. Just checking in with them to ensure they are okay can ensure that you create healthy boundaries in your relationship.

 

by Jacob Woo-Ming

At the time I am writing this, it has been almost two weeks since the murder of George Floyd. Yet, it feels like months have quickly passed by.

wall with the text i can t breathe
Photo by ksh2000 on Pexels.com

(A building is graffitied with “I can’t breathe,” George Floyd’s last words before his death.)

I am half Black and half Filipino/Chinese. Because I am ambiguously brown, I’m always terrified whenever I hear of another Black person dying at the hands of the police.

It reminds me of Treyvon Martin, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, all of my other Black brothers and sisters, and those in between.

This time, though, we are fed up. At a time where most of the nation is harmed by the pandemic, we are even more sick of this racism and brutality flying under our noses and going unseen. Despite these troubled times, I have felt threads of hope seeing my friends educate and support each other.

My Black friends are teaching about racism and its systemic origins. My Asian friends are striving to empathize with my Black friends. My White friends are using their privilege to get out and protest.

I feel like I have seen more cooperation and empathy about Black lives in the last week than I have in my entire life. I’ve seen more resources for educating people about racism than in my college classes that are dedicated to these issues. It’s beyond overdue. 

Many people are scared about what they see in the news, but think about how scared we are being born into a society that wouldn’t want to trade places with us for even a day. Remember that we didn’t get civil rights, LGBT rights, or even taxation without representation without rebellion.

people protesting and holding signs
Photo by Life Matters on Pexels.com

(Protesters walk with signs saying “BLM” and “Black Lives Matter.)

We aren’t just fighting for George Floyd. We’re fighting for the millions of innocent people we have lost to systemic racism, police brutality, and the prison system. We’re fighting to make a difference and we’re in the middle of history being made. We can’t stop now.

Get up, get informed, get your mask on, and donate to the cause! 

 

On Monday, June 1st, 2020, Christian Mbanza was momentarily locked out of his car. 

The 27-year-old grade-school teacher of Regina, Saskatchewan used an app to unlock his car. He waited for his phone to work for a moment, and when it didn’t, simply got out his keys. Nothing about the incident should have implied Mbanza was breaking the law when he was simply entering his own car, so why did a video taken by a neighbouring resident, captioned “Just happened on Keller ave watched the whole thing happen lock your doors!!” end up on the Greens on Gardiner Facebook group? Well, Mbanza is Black. 

The now-deleted Facebook post that targets Mbanza.

“If I was somebody with a lighter skin complexion, the results would have been different. I don’t think they would have automatically assumed that I was stealing,” Mbanza said in an interview with CBC. He went on to express that “I’m lucky that it just ended up on Facebook,” noting that things could have ended badly if he had lived somewhere else. 

This seems to be a common sentiment in Canada. Many are tweeting variations of a 2013 Robin Williams quote in regard to the country: “You are like a really nice apartment over a meth lab.” The implication being that Canada is innocent compared to what goes on in the States. But anyone who believes Canada to be innocent in regards to racism is sadly fooled. Yes, Canada is known as a friendly country. But the truth is we wear syrup-sweet smiles to cover up our genocidal history and violent present. 

Indigenous people occupied North America for thousands of years before European settlers arrived, bringing with them venereal disease, alcoholism, and business schemes. This weakened the Indigenous way of life, as they were not accustomed to any of this. It wasn’t long before the Indian Act was put forth in 1876, which was based on the premise that it was the Crown’s responsibility to care for and protect the interests of First Nations (the Indigenous peoples of Canada), when in reality it was largely concerned with the assimilation and “civilization” of First Nations. In 1883, residential schools were put forth as a method to further assimilate Indigenous children. These children were taken from their homes and enrolled in these residential schools, where they were forced to abandon their traditional language, dress, and lifestyle. More than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were placed in these schools and over 6,000 were killed, making the odds of dying in a residential school more likely than the odds of dying in World War II. Many survivors of these schools were subjected to verbal, physical and psychological abuse, which is a major cause of substance abuse and intergenerational trauma; this practice continued until the last residential school closed in  1996.

Stephanie Pierce graduated from high school in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in 2018. It wasn’t until she enrolled in her school’s Native Studies course at the age of 16 that she learned of the severity of Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people. She recalls being shocked about the Sixties Scoop, which was a practice in the 1960’s that involved the RCMP “scooping up” Indigenous children from their parents and putting them up for adoption, usually to middle-upper class white families.

“We actually had someone who was a survivor of the Sixties Scoop come in and talk to us,” Pierce recalls. “She said she had no clue the true background of her adoption until the earlier 2000’s, and her adoptive mom didn’t know either.”

The survivor was eventually reunited with her birth mother at the age of 40. Until that day, her birth mother had no idea what had happened to her child. 

“When her biological mom gave birth to her in a hospital, people came in – I assume the RCMP – and took her away, and basically said she was too unfit to be a mother.” 

Taking Native Studies was a life changing experience for Pierce. Unfortunately, the class is optional and is only offered when enough students show interest, meaning that an important education often comes far too late – or not at all. 

Modern Canadian racism might not be particularly evident to someone who hasn’t experienced it, but it exists all the same. As of 2018, the federal government reported that 91 First Nations communities (excluding those in British Columbia and those without access to drinking water at all) were under long term drinking water advisories. Indigenous people make up 4.8% of Canada’s population but were one third of the victims shot by the RCMP between 2007 and 2017.  The tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women has been declared a national crisis, and yet a proper number cannot be estimated because Canada did not keep a database for missing people until 2010, but since 1980 that number is estimated to be in the thousands

As evidenced by Mbanza’s experience, racism isn’t exclusively directed at Indigenous people in Canada. The black community makes up 3.4% of Canada’s population and 9% of police fatalities. Black people in Toronto are 20 times more likely to be shot dead by the police than people who are not black.

(Above) A mural in remembrance of George Floyd, by Regina teenager Zoe Stradeski.

As peaceful protests break out across the country and #blacklivesmatter trends across multiple social media platforms, it may appear that people are making meaningful steps towards change. However, this movement is more than a trend. Black lives and other marginalized lives need to continue to be listened to and protected going forward. Calgarian Twitter user @deborahmeb expressed her lived experience in a series of tweets. 

“As someone who’s spent over 80% of my life in Calgary, experienced most of the racism I’ve experienced throughout my life in Calgary, I’m not only overwhelmed by the show of support this week, but I’m actually shocked.

Part of this shock is not actually appreciation but rather an indictment…It’s a ‘Where have y’all been this whole time?’ Before this week, FAR too many of you have been far too silent. I realize that before this week, I felt extremely alone in this. 

If you are truly ready to change that, my gratitude cannot be fully expressed. If you will commit to care for black lives, fight for black lives, to do the necessary learning to value black lives beyond this current moment, you will be doing a noble thing.” She then goes on to “Implore you to stand up for Indigenous lives with the same vigour.”

Sign petitions 

To demand that a transparent investigation is held into the actions of the police officers present when Regis Korchinski-Paquet died, you can sign the petition here.

To demand racial data on police-involved deaths in Canada, you can sign the petition here.

To demand justice for George Floyd, you can sign the petition here.

To demand justice for Belly Mujinga, the railway worker who died from coronavirus after she was spat on by a man claiming to have COVID-19, you can sign the petition here.

To demand justice for Breonna Taylor, the Black emergency medical technician who was fatally shot in her apartment by the Louisville Metro Police Department, sign the petition here.

To demand that the NL high school curriculum includes anti-racist books, sign the petition here.

To demand that the city of Calgary holds a public consultation on systemic racism, sign the petition here.

To demand that Toronto police wear and turn on body cameras when on duty, sign the petition here.

Donate

Donate to Justice For Regis.

Donate to Black Lives Matter Toronto or Black Lives Matter Vancouver.

Donate to the Official George Floyd Memorial Fund.

Donate to Belly Mujinga’s family, including her daughter.

Donate to the Toronto Protestor Bail Fund, which provides legal support to anyone protesting in Toronto.

Donate to The Minnesota Freedom Fund, which provides funds to pay bail for those protesting in Minnesota.

Donate to The Bail Project, which provides funds to pay bail for those who have been arrested during the protests. You can split your donation between the 39 bail funds (including the Philadelphia Bail Fund, the LGBTQ Freedom Fund, the Community Justice Exchange National Bail Fund Network and the Mississippi Bail Fund Collective) by clicking here.

Donate to the National Bail Fund Network, which includes a directory of community bail funds.

Donate to The Movement For Black Lives, a global initiative which aims to support Black organizations to conduct conversations about current political conditions.

Donate to North Star Health Collective, which coordinates and provides healthcare services, resources, and training to those protesting in Minnesota.

Donate to Unicorn Riot, which supports journalists on the front line.

Donate to Black Visions Collective, which centers its work to develop Minnesota’s emerging Black leadership to lead powerful campaigns.

Donate to Reclaim The Block, a grassroots organization that works to provide the Minneapolis community with the resources they need to thrive.

Donate to Say Her Name, a campaign that calls attention to police violence against Black women, girls, and femmes.

Donate to Justice For David McAtee, a Black restaurant worker killed by police in Kentucky.

Donate to I Run with Maud: an Ahmaud Arbery fund by his best friend.

Read

Stamped from the Beginning – Ibram X. Kendi

So you want to talk about race – Ijeoma Oluo 

The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander

Dying of Whiteness – Johnathan M. Metzel 

Zami – Audre Lorde

How to be an Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi 

Lies My Teacher Told Me – James W. Loewen 

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas 

Becoming – Michelle Obama 

Malcolm X – as told by Alex Haley 

Sister Outsider – Audre Lorde