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Covid Stories

Are we getting stuck up by the Covid-19? 

We knew it was coming. We saw it reaching its long hand out to touch us. Letting you know that this assailant was no longer hiding in the shadows, but in plain sight. We knew at some point that no longer will the Covid hide in the dark. Like a villain in one of those old time black and white movies with the guy at nightime under the tree, “Psst, hey you, come ‘ere, where are you going?” It can also be saying, “Hey, where’s your mask? Is that hand sanitizer in your pocket? Please step back.”

Covid holds us in its clutches, dictating how we will run our society from going to school, going shopping, or just hanging out with friends.  We all have to adjust to the new ‘norms,’ some more than others. 

I remember that first morning when numerous businesses and restaurants either closed or sent workers home to work online because of the Covid. I couldn’t even recognize anyone because of their masks, hoods, glasses. Any other time you think you would be getting stuck up in a robbery.

I always noticed the large population of people experiencing  homelessness in downtown even before I moved down here. Now with the few workers left downtown, it’s mostly the homeless and the downtown residents left. How can anyone ignore people walking aimlessly through the streets of downtown during the Covid-19? 

As I’m walking down Main Street I see a former student from one of the schools I worked in as Head Custodian, Jesse*. This school was for the students that didn’t always fit into the square hole. A troubled young man with mental health issues, homelessness issues, and I’m sure many other issues that were not in the Head Custodians log book or emails. I’ve been seeing him throughout the years. He’s been living in the streets, bouncing in and out of shelters. Since Covid hit, the shelters are now only taking people who are already there, so Jesse had to figure out something else. I asked him, “where are you sleeping at night?”

He tells me that he takes the bus to his cousin’s house in New Britain: “My cousin gets out of work at 8pm so she is usually home by 9pm. Sometimes she leaves the door unlocked so I can sleep in her house. If not, I’m more than welcome to sleep in the hallway of her building, which is what I do.” Jesse  has been from one house to another since he was a young boy. He goes on to tell me that he rarely has enough food to eat and since the Covid there has been more distance between people so very few opportunities to panhandle. “All I’ve had today was a little granola.” It’s nearly 12:30.

Jesse was able to have lunch today.

I went to another place that I knew I would be able to run into some more unfortunate residents without a home to live. St. Patrick and St. Anthony Roman Catholic Church is located on Church and Ann Street. This church has a long history in the city of Hartford for helping the homeless. Always.

There I met two other homeless guys, George* and Frank*. Frank was using the electrical plug outside the church to charge his flip phone. These guys, unlike Jesse, are not from the city. Frank is from Windsor Locks, and has been here in Hartford for over 15 years. George is from Enfield, I have seen him behind my building on several occasions. Yes, I have given him money before.

They had the same story to tell. They are sleeping where they can, sometimes on the bench, or under the underpass. Since the Covid the shelters have closed, or at least stopped taking new clients. George pointed out the new apartments that are slated for college students and said “The shelters are putting people in some local hotels on the Berlin Turnpike and in East Hartford.” I reached out to an organization that is located in Hartford. I wanted to verify that homeless people have been being placed in local hotels. When I called it turned out that the information was accurate. I was told that the shelters are complying with the 6ft rule. “In order to comply with the order from the governor’s office some were sent to these hotels. Since the hotels were empty many homeless were placed there.” This however made me think of the employees at the homeless shelters. That is another story.

I asked George and Frank how they’ve been  eating during the Covid.  Frank answered in a very nonchalant way, “We eat out the dumpster. But there’s less now because the restaurants downtown have closed.”

What I have noticed is that the homeless population is being completely neglected. Many of our homeless in the Downtown area have mental health and self medicated issues which leads many to drug addiction and alcohol abuse. These seem to go hand and hand from my observation. The city has also been developing new apartments in the Downtown area that are not accessible to the homeless or subsidized housing even though the apartments remain mostly empty. In this current administration we have the mayor’s office and city council fighting against the injustice of slum lords. Then on the other side of the table we have the ever powerful finance committee. This committee dictates many new developments that are slated to begin in the city such as the development of new retail around Dunkin Donuts Park, new luxury housing.  This committee, appointed by the mayor, also dictates the market rate and size of apartments in downtown. So why would the mayor fight against the slumlords where many of the impoverished residents live and then appoint this committee to out price the market and dictate housing size? With this formula families that live with mice, roaches, silverfish, and rats will continue to live that way while homeless people are left out of this conversation completely, living under bridges, alleys and shadows.  So many are left out of the new, bright future that the Mayor has planned for the City of Hartford. 

*All names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.


About the Author: My name is Levey Kardulis life long resident of Hartford and a concerned community activist. I worked for the city of Hartford for 26 years while ensuing that my four children all graduated from Hartford Schools. In the end you will not remember the words of your enemies but the silence of your friends.

Copyrighted by Levey Kardulis. Editorial assistance provided by Megan Brown. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College. 

As the creator of Downtown with Covid-19, I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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Covid Stories

I lost my campus job when the Coronavirus first hit. It was a sudden and devastating moment — I was in shock. I went without work for two months. I even filed for unemployment, but I got denied because I was a student. I found that to be so unfair and disappointing because I actually needed help. 

I remember filling out questionnaires for Dunkin Donuts, Target, Hartford HealthCare, WalMart and many more. I applied to so many jobs I got sick of looking at my resume. Eventually, my job hunting skills paid off when I got a phone call from Walmart explaining  to me that I got hired in April. I became an essential worker. I did not know what I was getting myself into working in a super grocery store. 

Little did I know that I would be suited up with face masks and gloves working. That I would be washing my hands every chance I get because someone in my department has tested positive for COVID-19. That my hands would be dry and cracked because of how hard and often I would scrub them. That they would take my temperature everyday I would come in to ensure it was not 100 and over. 

Customers coming to ask me questions ignoring the 6 feet rule would upset me on a daily basis. Our aisles are labeled with what is contained in them. A white lady once asked me “ Do you know where the Panera Bread soups are?” As if soups and canned goods aren’t already in their respective aisle! There was no need to ask me. People not practicing social distancing would trigger me. The closer they would try to come up to me, the farther I would step back trying to put more distance between myself. 

This virus is a killer and I refuse to be a product of it. I have pre existing health conditions myself and I will continue to keep doing what it takes to remain healthy and strong. People are dying everyday and yet so many customers socialize in each other’s faces like there is nothing to be worried about. This makes me deeply concerned about whether the curve will be flattened. 

Being paid during a time in which millions are unemployed or furloughed is a blessing, but a paycheck is not more important than my health. 

Oftentimes, I find myself drifting into depression as I miss being social with friends and creating memories. I get discouraged and afraid when I see how many people of color are dying because of Coronavirus. My Black and Brown people are affected disproportionately. It is easy for my mind to wander to several negative places, but I have learned how to become hyper aware of this. I readjust my thinking into more optimistic and productive thoughts. 

Despite this grim reality, I must remind myself that our society has overcome atrocities like H1N1, SARS, MRSA, and COVID-19 will be no different. As I think deeply, I tell myself that we will get through this! There will be light on the other side of this dark melancholy tunnel the world is traveling through.  

Everyday I yearn to hear “Congratulations the world is free from COVID-19,” but I know that will not happen if people continue to be in large groups, not take quarantine seriously, and wear protective gear outside. Everyone has been affected by Coronavirus in some way, including myself, and I am doing everything in my power to keep myself healthy and not in the hospital. This pandemic will never be forgotten by me. It has left an imprint on my life forever.  


About the Author: Shian Earlington is a Biochemistry Major at Capital Community College.  Shian aspires to pursue a medical degree as a Neonatal Surgeon after completing her undergraduate requirements. She is passionate about her community and being able to help others thrive and succeed.

Copyrighted by Shian Earlington. Editorial assistance provided by Megan Brown. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College.

As the creator of “COVID-19, The Era of the Unknown”, I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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Covid Stories

I daresay that anyone who sees a heart on the front door or window of a house, automatically thinks of nurses, doctors, and all healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current use of the heart as a public symbol of support for healthcare workers—and every other person who goes out to ensure continuity of life and deemed essential by extension—is recognizable everywhere. It’s an international manifestation of gratitude.

I started taking photos of front doors and windows displaying heart(s) in support of #heartsforhealthcareworkers on April 7. I have since captured over 130 photographs documenting West Hartford. This show of gratitude comes in all colours and designs through simple single hearts to more elaborate art projects: hearts hand-drawn and cut, mass-produced and commercially available products, unique artisanal items, and sculpture pieces.

The following photographs are part of a larger documentary photography project, From Our Hearts | #beautyintheageofCOVID.


FOH_Trinity_CHER

About the author, Maria Tuckler: “In mid-March, when the world seemed to turn upside down and our lives would suddenly shrink to our immediate surroundings, I knew I would need an outlet to help me deal with the pandemic. I decided that I’d marry running with photography. I started documenting life (ironic eh) around me captured during my breaks from WFH. On my daily runs, walks, and bike rides, I go out in search of what I see as new and/or different in my neighbourhood and town. And to document the ways through which kids and adults are communicating with others outside of the matrix. I have photographed West Hartford Centre and its surrounding streets.”

Copyrighted by [author’s name(s)]. Editorial assistance provided by [Editor’s name]. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College. 

As the creator of “From Our Hearts | #beautyintheageofCOVID”, I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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Covid Stories

How could anyone truly enjoy this?

Each of us are stuck at home, limited in virtually everything we do. Numerous people are dying around the world every day. We are all faced with new ways of life. For some, it is bizarre, something straight out of a science fiction novel. For most, it’s uncomfortable. Yet, for a select few, it is serene.

On the other hand, this life-threatening illness elicits a strong sense of fear among all of us, which presents itself in a lot of different ways: fear of contracting the disease, fear for the wellbeing of loved ones, fear of what tomorrow might (or might not) bring. Many of us are having an exceptionally difficult time dealing with the mortality of this situation, in addition to social distancing, self-quarantine and isolation; these changes are affecting mental health, and they present hopelessness. The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a serious toll on the lives of people around the world. This virus poses negative impacts to all. With so many lives being threatened, friends and family being separated from one another, and normalcy being cancelled, it is difficult to see the good in this situation we all face. Is there any good?

For many introverts, myself included, social distancing and self-quarantine presents “good” that cannot easily be identified by others. Since this pandemic began to affect my personal life, back in early March, I realized the opportunity it set forth. Beforehand, I spent most of my days (and some nights) running around campus, interacting and engaging with new people non-stop. I worked different jobs, in addition to classes and extracurricular activities. Needless to say, it was a lot to handle, even for the most extroverted person. Back in the dorms, despite how much I loved spending time with my roommate, I never felt like I had time to myself. Many people, introverts or otherwise, identify this feeling as a reduction or exhaustion of social energy, or a drain on one’s “social battery”. Every day on campus, my “social battery” started at 10% and drastically decreased throughout the day. I never had any time to recharge.

Now, I am thankful to have my own room at home and a family that understands my need to recharge my “social battery”, or renew the social energy I expend from socializing. Being an introvert does not mean that you are antisocial or shy, despite it being defined by various sources as such. To me, being an introvert means that you are more likely to feel rejuvenated upon spending time alone, rather than in social settings. The introvert community is made up of a variety of people, as no one is 100% introverted or extroverted. As such, it is important to note that everyone (introvert or extrovert) can benefit from alone time, in the same way that everyone can benefit from socialization. Since social distancing began, I found I could “recharge” much easier than before; still, I miss creating new memories with family and friends. I miss what was once considered normal.

Nothing can change the fact that our new “normal” is totally unexpected and unwanted. Still, I encourage readers to see the silver lining amidst the mess this virus produces. One of my very best friends said it best during one of our routine FaceTime calls, “This is the perfect time to get to know yourself.” If you are able to, try to enjoy being in your own company. Try finding out everything you want to about who you are and what makes you unique.

As an introvert, I take time to self-reflect whenever I can, but I understand that it is challenging for others (even some introverts) to do this, especially as social distancing may raise new responsibilities such as balancing childcare, home schooling, and working remotely. A simple recommendation I can provide would be to start off small; take ~5 minutes to notice something new about yourself. Even with all of the time I spend alone, I still discover something new about the person I am. One of my favorite practices is to make lists of “my favorites”. If you’re indecisive like me, the lists tend to be pretty long. Some of the questions I ask myself are: What are your favorite qualities (in yourself? a friend? a significant other?) What words could you use to describe your personality? What are your favorite destinations to visit? Where do you want to travel when it is safe to do so again? What are your favorite stress-relieving activities? What do you need right now that will make you feel at ease? No topic is more significant than the other. I especially like these questions because they allow me to develop a more comprehensive idea of who I am, and remind myself that I can add even more to my lists once this settles.

One thing that helped me get through my difficult days, balancing multiple responsibilities on campus, is understanding that with every challenge conquered comes great strength. If dealing with isolation and social distancing is a challenge, spend time getting to know who you are and embracing it; finding peace in understanding who you are and who you wish to be. Push through feelings of discomfort, and learn to enjoy being alone but not lonely. Putting these ideas into practice may appear exhausting and never-ending, but each of them has value. I am thankful for the alone time I now have, as well as my past experiences stepping outside of my comfort zone on campus. I invite those who might find this time stressful to take an introvert’s perspective and find strength and enjoyment in doing the same.


About the author: Kelsey Brown is a First-Year student at Trinity from the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Kelsey finds immense comfort in being surrounded by family and friends, but she especially cherishes spending time alone to reflect and learning to enjoy being in her own company.

Copyrighted by Kelsey Brown. Editorial assistance provided by Beatrice Alicea. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College. 

As the creator of “Finding Happiness in Isolation”, I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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Covid Stories

This project is a comparison of space living in a one-room apartment underneath a townhouse with three other family members and two dogs in Jersey City, New Jersey, and a three-bedroom, Three Bath apartment with four other family members and one dog in Brooklyn, New York. the comparison is through Hand-drawn Mind Maps of both environments. Comparing the two mind maps allows viewers to understand mobility within both spaces, especially adjacent to the urban cities they are situated in. My sketches originally were in black and white, but in an effort to try to live in color I went for a more therapeutic method by recreating the scenes in watercolor.


This quarantine taught me how to stretch… Stretch my mind, my happiness, my attention span, and my suitcase. Having to move and adjust to two new spaces in less than a month not knowing when things would go back to normal forced me to learn how to be ok, when mentally and emotionally I was not.. But I am alive. I am breathing. But it is still hard.

I started my quarantine in Jersey City. Rather than going home to Georgia immediately , I wanted to stay closer to Trinity in the event that we were cleared to return to campus, or if I had to return to gather my belongings. My aunt, uncle and I moved into my cousin’s apartment to separate essential workers from those who did not have to leave the house. As a result, the living space that was intended for one overtime came to accommodate four humans and 2 husky puppies by the name of Lookie and Luda.

I slept on a couch in the living room that served as my classroom, chill space, dining space; everything space. Coming from a school where I had a variety of spaces for different functions, the shift was doable but not easy for my mental health. The best thing about the Jersey apartment was outside. There were not a lot of opportunities for sunlight inside, but the backyard allowed me to soak up as much sun as the sun would allow me to. I found myself trying to do as many assignments outside as possible, which weren’t many. I quickly learned the sun and laptop do not work well together.

Over the course of time, my uncle and cousin renovated the old fence with the spare time they had and we used the dry wood that was woven in the old fences for the fire pit. We had enough for two nights worth of good music and old stories. I will forever remember the good memories, they really helped to cut through the hard times.

The first half of quarantine was also during lent, which meant a lot of canned fish. I will be okay if I don’t see another can of tuna for a while. I cooked a lot of my meals before my aunt joined us so I had to re-learn time management balancing cooking and schoolwork. Every night after dinner we would gather together by the television and watch a few episodes of a series to end the day with family time.

The days, for the most part, followed the same structure: cooking, zoom classes, more cooking, homework, checking emails, zoom meetings, dinner, another zoom class, shower, family TV, sleep. Repeat.

I almost got used to the new structure until I had to move to Brooklyn.

My suitcase and I are now New Yorkers. Here I live with another aunt and uncle, two cousins, and one shiatsu by the name of Champ. I have a third cousin who is usually home, but given that he stayed on campus I was able to sleep on his bed.  Staying in Brooklyn has been a lot more colorful. My older cousin is an artist and we have had many creative conversations during my stay here. She was actually the one who inspired me to try my hand at watercolor for this project instead of the black and white sketches.

 

With the amount of change that was happening, there were many times where I felt like a robot following a routine while pressing buttons on a keyboard and adjusting my eyesight to focus on my laptop screen. It was not till halfway through quarantine that I realized I could use an HDMI cord and connect the old computer screen to my laptop to act as a second monitor. Doing that really changed the way I was able to work. I was able to gain more structure and difference in space, something that this apartment allowed that the other did not.

I did not have the opportunity to go outside as much. We were on the 5th floor and so the only time we went outside was when we had to go grocery shopping. Most of the time, it would be my uncle given that he already had to go outside for work. Here I have the option of cooking which allows me more flexibility in my time and priorities for the day.

My days were not too often the same. Many times, professors switched their teaching style which, in turn, altered my schedule. Overtime I just understood school as a stick of juicy fruit gum, slowly losing its flavor and consistency over time. I also learned the importance of communicating and being direct when I need help through this whole experience.  With a new understanding on how to navigate the situation I was able to reach out to the appropriate resources and get help with schoolwork, life, and the process of transitioning from college life to COVID-19 life.

The highlight of my time here aside from family has been the moments of solidarity. Every day at 7 on the dot, the neighbors bang pots and pans to show appreciation for the healthcare workers. On some days, the passing cars would also honk.

Even though the situation is not Ideal and there are days when I am really down, I have been able to have more stability and flexibility living in Brooklyn despite the location and the inability to be outside in the ways I was able to in Jersey  Family has been the thing that has allowed me to get through this time. The moments of going over old photos, having the time to have the “transitioning to adulthood” talks,  and the I love you texts from my mom everyday really brought warmth to my heart during these hard times. I could not be more grateful for my family.

 In my days before Covid I would incorporate color through my clothes, food, and language. With having to move so quick and live off of the means of others, my color is not quite the same. I recognize my color palette will no longer be the same, but with every conversation, time of reflection, and new experience I have had, I gain the pigments to reimagine the colors I choose to live in. 


About the author(s): Sonjah Dessalines, Urban Studies Major, First-Generation Haitian-American student at Trinity College. Promoter of difference and inclusion of thought and personal narratives.

Copyrighted by Sonjah Dessalines. Editorial assistance provided by Beatrice Alicea. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College.

As the creator of “Trying to live in color: transition between 2 urban environments during Covid 19”, I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

 

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This is a short film that speaks to my experience with isolation. I think it’s a relatable film, and the intended audience are students living the same experience as me. A lot of people have discussed how bored they are trying to find anything to do to be productive, and their use of alcohol becoming an issue. I think my film speaks on the emptiness of this time and the internal feelings of chaos.



Copyrighted by Krystal Philson. Editorial assistance provided by Erica Crowley. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College.

As the creator of “Isolated”, I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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Covid Stories

What can be gained from a difficult time? I find myself grappling with this question daily as I’m sure many Americans are. Like most, I do not have a clear role in society to combat the coronavirus pandemic. I am not a nurse, a doctor, or an essential  worker of any kind. I want to work in a grocery store, but my parents have forbade this: I could put my 64 year old mother and my twin sisters with asthma at risk if I bring the virus home. So I am merely a student, told by my parents, health experts and government officials that the best thing I can do right now is to remain inside and follow the social distancing guidelines. It doesn’t feel like enough of a contribution, because I want to do something more active, more tangible, more satisfying.

During my undergraduate career as a history major at Trinity, I have studied disasters both global and local. I have read about the devastating impact the Great Depression had on our country in the 1930s; how the food lines became endlessly long and people grew tired and weary of struggling day to day for basic necessities merely to survive. I have read Ellie Weisel’s Night and Primo Levi’s Survival in Aushwitz, both moving firsthand accounts of the Jewish genocide during WWII. I have researched the environmentally disastrous effects of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. Anytime I have immersed myself in a different historical catastrophe, I always have appreciated how peaceful and safe my life has been compared to those terrible days. I always reflect on how lucky I am to be living in the twenty-first century with all the benefits that a modern lifestyle holds. However, as the coronavirus pandemic takes hold of America, and I witness reports of people dying by the thousands daily, I am now personally confronting a catastrophe of historic proportions.

For the past month, I have been cooped up at home in order to obey rigid social distancing policies. At times I feel as though I am in a sci-fi film where technology rules over everyones lives and we all are slaves to a screen. We cannot imagine surviving without technology now. Without our cell phones with their myriad apps, everything from food delivery to language learning, without our computers for remote work and social media, or without our twenty four hour cable news, how could we weather this storm?

 In my house my sisters work remotely on computers and my mom stays in touch with the world through CNN and MSNBC. My mother’s coffee shop friends have started virtual coffee through zoom. I teach young Chinese children English online. Four new adorable Chinese children’s faces greet me on my screen  for half hour group lessons several times a day. I love my online teaching, but I deeply miss the immediacy of my former daily social interactions with friends, casual acquaintances, even strangers. 

Although we are living in peacetime, the way society has shifted to combat this coronavirus makes me feel like we are at war–a different, silent war. Not only a war for our lives, but also a war against our natural instincts to socialize and be heard and seen in person, not over a screen. So here we are, my third year into college, and it seems that history has suddenly caught up with me but in a twisted dystopian way unlike anything I have ever read about.

Whether I like it or not, the coronavirus pandemic has forced me to put my life on hold and look at the bigger picture. It has reminded me that we are all connected—our cities, our states, our country and the world. It is futile to pretend this disaster will not affect me or you because it has likely already touched everyone in ways both trivial and profound…whether that is in the form of a sick loved one or not being able to see family and friends.

 For me, one upside is that  I have realized that I can live without as much as I thought I needed—attending classes, spending time with friends, going to church, going out to eat, shopping, and studying in the library or at coffee shops are all luxuries I no longer enjoy. I surprisingly can make do with a lot less while being in one space for a prolonged period of time. The coronavirus quarantine has essentially made me realize that I have an inner strength—that some peace and happiness can be cultivated within me.  For those who have studied Buddhism or meditation, that might seem obvious. But for me it is a newfound breakthrough. I find happiness through long walks, meditation, and prayer. I find enjoyment by reading Jane Austen novels and self-help books. I have found my own little happiness during this time because I am lucky enough to be away from the frontlines of the battle against the virus… nestled in the comfort of my old, spacious, dependable colonial home.

While being at home I have committed to becoming the best version of myself possible… whether this means improving my Japanese language skills, reviewing my knowledge of American history, or reading about positive psychology. My first way that I have been productive is by keeping a daily Japanese routine. I use Duolingo, the language learning application, to brush up on various topics like food, family, and weather. Some of the Japanese I am practicing I already know, but I also find I’m learning new words as well. In order to ensure I am growing my knowledge of kanji characters I have been making a flashcard with a new word each day. I also have a special kanji application that allows me to go back and write kanji I have already memorized. I have even been keeping in touch through an app called Line with my Japanese friends whom I met on my semester abroad in Nagoya, Japan last year.

With that being said, this has also been one of the most challenging times because I feel so helpless and unable to make a difference. I know that the commercials on TV and the newscast reporters tell me that staying home will save lives, and it will, but it doesn’t seem like enough. My dad is the real hero. He’s the one who goes to work at the Emergency Room at Emerson Hospital every day, assessing coronavirus patients and admitting the ones with bad enough cases into the hospital. Although he and my mom are divorced and I already do not see him much, it was hard when he said I might not see him for months. A couple weeks ago, in preparation for the possibility that he might get sick, my dad texted me and my sisters that he has written his will. So far he has managed to stay healthy and for that I cannot be more grateful. My sisters who are twenty-five-year-old twins have left their one room DC apartment to come back to the comfort of home. Soon my oldest sister who is twenty six will also come home making it a full house. All of them are lucky enough to have work, so I can recognize that my family has been spared the worst of the coronavirus impacts. 

And yet here I am at home, sleeping more than ever and watching too much TV. Staying in seems like a lame cop out. An excuse. Avoidant. I am someone who likes to go to climate change rallies, to sign petitions, to raise my voice, to stand up to injustice and make my opinions heard. I am not one to go quietly through a global disaster. And yet this coronavirus is a silent killer that is doing its best to silence me.  It does not need my chants in the streets. It takes lives without my consent and there is no real way to protest against disease. The only way to protest is to help stop the spread by following social distancing guidelines and praying for those who have COVID19. I will keep all those who have tragically died during this pandemic in my heart as I continue to forge on. Everyday I will appreciate sunshine and the way the tree branches cut patterns in the blue sky. Everyday I will rise up in good spirits and hold my head high. I will continue to enjoy the little things: walks, playing board games with my sisters, and count my blessings. I hope through this tragedy that I will be more grateful than I might have been and have more compassion for others. We all can play our small part in that way.


About the author:Elizabeth Sockwell is a history major at Trinity College who loves studying Japanese, teaching English online, and going for long walks. You may also ask the student if they wish to submit a photo of themselves to go along with their bio.

Copyrighted by Elizabeth Sockwell. Editorial assistance provided by Beatrice Alicea. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College. 

As the creator of “History Becomes Personal: Living Through the Pandemic of 2020″ I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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Walking up to the admissions building with high anxiety and emotions, not knowing what would happen next, I walked into International Student Advisor Katie Clair’s office. Not seeing her around, I waited until she got to her office. Instantly, she was swarmed by her students. Everyone had the same emotions, fears, anxieties, and questions“What should we do? Should we just go home?” 

The college’s decision to go online for the following three weeks came on a Wednesday afternoon. After much anticipation throughout the week, we finally knew what was happening. There was a sudden moment of silence in Mather, as they read the email. Everyone had mixed emotionssome excited that they almost had an extended spring break, some upset about not being able to go for their spring break plans, and had to go back home, some worried and nervous about what they were going to do. 

No sooner did the email go out to the entire Trinity community, that I noticed all my international friends getting phone calls from their parents, worried about what was happening. Eventually, we got our answers after speaking to Katie, the deans, and our professors. While a few international students decided to go home instantly, most of us were stuck between wanting to go home but being scared to do so, even after receiving the necessary guidance. 

I had so many questions of my own before even trying to explain and convince my parents. If I go back, when will I return? Will I be able to return? What would happen to my academic visa? What about the graduating seniors? What about their jobs and our internships? What were we supposed to do if we couldn’t go back home? But those from higher-risk countries or countries with locked borders stayed back. I cannot even begin to think about how they are doing and how traumatic the lonely campus could be. While most of us are familiar with this loneliness, it is hard to bear it at times. Seeing parents help pack their child’s belongings and drive them off from Mather circle really tore us apart with conflicting feelings of both wanting to go home and being scared to leave. 

After talking to my anxious parents, from 7,000 miles away, almost knowing that they wouldn’t sleep that night, I had to be composed as I explained to them what the college’s advice was. I had to fight my tears as I spoke to them but eventually broke down after they hung up. I knew that they were worried, and that’s when I knew I should really go home. Even after making the decision to come back home, things weren’t easy. Nothing was the same. The possibility of catching the virus on a flight, not knowing if we were going to be put in the quarantine facility, or go home and self-quarantine⁠—it all heightened the anxiety. After clearing all immigration checks, I walked out of the airport, happy to see my mom. But my heart sank when, for the first time, I wasn’t hugged at the airport by my mother, who was relieved to see me safe but equally cautious. The good thing was, we had spring break, so it gave us all some downtime to settle into the situation. 

But the unusual spring break didn’t help as much. With the constant worry about potentially acquiring the virus and transmitting it to my family, I worried. But eventually, classes started. Online classes were just as hard. It was almost as if I wasn’t back home because I had to keep up with classes at erratic hours due to the time difference, which drastically altered my sleep schedule. My schedule was still aligned to college while figuring how to maintain sanity through this difficult period. Logging on to classes at 8 pm to join a 9 am class at Trinity, and then staying up until 6 am was tiring. It meant that I barely shared a meal with my family while I was home. It was something that hadn’t happened earlier. I was torn apart between waking up early and helping out with the house chores and my health because of my erratic sleep schedule. 

However, what broke my heart more was to know that some of my friends were forced to stay back on campus or were stuck in transit in a completely unknown country. Irrespective of my sleep and classes, I was at least home, eating home-cooked food, and I was so grateful. For the longest time, I couldn’t stop thinking about my friend who was stuck in a completely unknown country because his country had closed borders. My other friend was not allowed to be in a country where she lived for 15 years with her family, even with a residence permit. I heard several stories from my friends who said they finally reached home after five days of driving from a neighboring country. It was almost as if they smuggled themselves into a place they called home. While some of my friends absolutely loved the idea of being able to go back home for the rest of the semester, some of us had our whole world change overnight. 

Some of the students struggled with being able to find funds to get a laptop, while others faced Internet and connectivity issues. Students with mental health issues had to give up their cyclical counseling in an instant. While the Counseling Center has been extremely sensitive about this, due to regulations, they aren’t able to completely help individuals who are “out of state.” Individuals who depended on their on-campus jobs suddenly had no source of earnings and were not eligible to receive the $1200 stimulus. 

While the future is unknown to all of us, the worries about potentially getting a job post-graduation or being able to return for graduate school are worrisome for most international students due to the visa implications. The biggest overarching worry we all have is wanting to know if we will return to campus in the fall or even spring. It has not been an easy transition for any student, be it a high schooler or a college student. Nonetheless, I am grateful for everything the Trinity administration and faculty have done. They have stood by all of us in these distressing times and helped us with all the possible resources to complete this semester smoothly. Shoutout to all those professors that made our classes fun and helped us forget about the pandemic even for a little bit during class! As my mom says, “it’s the distressing time that shows you who supports you.”


Author bio: I am an international student at Trinity College with lofty missions but down-to-earth plans. 

Copyrighted by Anonymous student. Editorial assistance provided by Morgan Finn. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College.

As the creator of Too Afraid to Leave, Too Afraid to Stay: My Experience as an International Student During COVID-19, I agree that this is my original work and that I retain the copyright.
Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my pseudonym to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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Covid Stories

If I have to read one more email from a professor or an administrator that begins with,

I know these are difficult times and we are all trying to cope as best we can,”

I am going to lose it.

It has been over a month since study abroad students were brought back to the United States due to Covid-19. Like some of my classmates, my untimely exit began with one phone call. I was deep in dream land when my host mom startled me one afternoon, violently shaking me to get my attention. I rolled over to see the reason for the intrusion. From what I was able to make out of what she said in French, I knew the call was important. I took the phone she handed me, rubbed the sleep dust from my eyes and groggily said, “Hello?”

There were less than five confirmed cases in Senegal in March and a week prior to that phone call, many of us had been going about life in the same manner every Senegalese was. We listened to the news and washed our hands frequently. Rather than panic, the air was filled with the feelings of love, care, and communal solidarity. I spent my days in class learning about Senegalese society, Wolof, and development. After class each day, my friends and I would make the short walk down to the beach. We would spend hours watching the waves roll in and quickly head back out to sea, as if each water drop was afraid of being stranded on the sandy shore. The world around me was alive with men running drills, swimming in the ocean, and coaches yelling out plays to their team while the young boys played soccer. My favorite time to visit was always before the last light faded with the sunset and night reared its head when, sometimes, I would perch myself on top of a rock, kick off my shoes and enjoy my favorite dish; attieke with fried fish topped with a bed of nicely seasoned vegetables. Like clockwork, the moon always followed with a bright light that illuminated the path back home.

How I wish I could go back in time and not pick up the phone call that ripped me away from my haven. On the other end of the line was one of our program directors.

She greeted me with the customary, “Salaamaalekum!”

It was a common greeting we had all come to learn meant, may peace be upon you, and I responded with, “Maalekum salaam!” a response that meant, may peace be upon you as well.

She proceeded to inform me of the countermeasure they were instructed to take after the head of our program in Portland received news about the headline of the day. Senegal would be closing its borders to protect its citizens in the next two days. The days leading up to the phone call had been hectic to say the least. With pressures from misinformed parents who were petrified their kids were going to die in Africa, to news reports tallying up the rising number of deaths in Italy, and the thirty-day travel ban on Europe; everyone was on high alert. To take precautionary measures, our program decided to get us all on the next available flights back to our respective homes. With every word she uttered, my stomach sank further and my heart raced faster. My devastation was two-fold; not only was I being ripped away from a place where I felt safe enough to truly be me in all my brightness, my mismatched clothes, colorful hair, and vibrant makeup looks, I had no agency in the matter. If given the choice between facing the pandemic in a beautiful nation with less than five confirmed cases or returning to the United States with confirmed cases reaching the thousands every day, I would have stayed exactly where I was. Unfortunately, as with many things in academia, the choice is never left to those who rely on schools for financial assistance. I had a confirmed plane ticket and instructions to be out of the country before daybreak within six hours of the conversation.

How does one even begin to pack up their entire life and say all the necessary goodbyes by the end of the day? After getting off the phone, I quickly dressed and gave my host mom a kiss on the cheek and explained I would be right back. I headed to the program office to give my passport information to our program director and to find out exactly what was going on. There were so many students there on their laptops frantically looking from one travel site to the next, trying to find a plane that could allow them to evacuate in a timely manner. I wanted to process my misery in private. I knew there was nothing I could do to aid the situation, so I grabbed my purse and went to say my goodbyes. I walked from Mermoz where I had been staying to Sacre Coeur. There, I walked up the stairs leading up to the two-story building I frequented. Unannounced, I opened the first door to my right. I relayed the information I had recently received and spent the next hour saying my goodbyes. My goodbyes were two months too early, but they had to happen then. After all was said and done, I headed home. Two of my friends came back to Mermoz with me to help me pack. When I arrived, my host mom was already fast at work folding my clothes so I could put them away in my suitcase. My host mom had the tendency of calling me, “Ma petite fille,” meaning my little girl, whenever she saw me. No matter how many times she had seen me on a given day. I knew I would forever be indebted to the family who opened up their home and welcomed me like I was one of their own. For the first time in my life, I felt as if I was part of a family. My host mom sent me off to school with a full baguette, an apple, and a mango coconut juice every morning. I don’t like apples. But apples became an essential part of my morning routine. I always ate every bite, and washed it down with my juice, knowing she woke up at 5am just to get it for me. I helped her fold and pack each piece of fabric until my presence was erased from the room.

I left Thursday evening and arrived in New York on Saturday. Three days, I spent flying across the globe, insomnia in full swing, desperately trying but unable to sleep, unable to decide the next fate of my life as I headed into the heart of the pandemic. Our journey took us from Senegal to Ghana. From Ghana to Nigeria, from Nigeria to Dubai, and finally, after two and a half days, we landed in La Guardia airport. I was met by an eerie silence which enveloped the once crowded space. I sped by immigration and spent no time waiting for my luggage.

I was picked up and brought back to the Bronx to begin what would become my own personal hell. In the wake of what had quickly happened to ensure our departure, I had not had much time to process the full scope of our evacuation. I was back home with my African parents, without anxiety medication, and in isolation. It was the perfect mix for a boiling stew of depression, insomnia, anxiety episodes, and as if matters could not get worse, my appetite was nowhere to be found. I spent the next two weeks in a deep depression. My days consisted of a shower, whatever food I could stomach, and twenty straight hours of tv under the covers in a dark room with the curtains pulled tightly shut. I was eating one meal a day, unable to sleep, unable to reach out to any of my friends, and unable to go outside for fear of accidentally spreading the virus to one of my fragile neighbors. I spent my days in my bedroom with a window overlooking concrete. By the third week, I knew I needed help. My inbox was pilling up with messages from various professors, administrators, and my program coordinators which all began the same.

“I know these are difficult times…,”

But honestly, do you really? Do you understand that your emails reach me under the covers in a deep depression? Do you understand that your request for assignments reach me while awake at all hours of the night afraid to sleep because nightmares keep me awake? Do you know what it is like to watch your parents step out the door each day to fulfill their duties as essential workers? Do you comprehend how truly difficult these times are when we are isolated with our triggers with no access to any of the coping mechanisms that make us full functioning human beings? Do you know how sad it truly is to receive emails with resources for internet access so we can fulfill our academic expectations as if we are not in a global pandemic? As if some of us do not have to spend eight plus hours trying to reach mental health specialists just so someone can prescribe medicine to alleviate this pain? Do you understand what a huge burden it is to be solely responsible for getting your sick loved ones medical attention because of language barriers? That some of our grandmothers and our mothers are sick in bed unable to breathe, clutching on for dear life? Do you really wish your emails reach us well? Better yet, why are we studying for a future you cannot guarantee us?

No one knows when this will be over. Our depression and anxiety looms present, growing stronger with every news of one more death, with every extension of our isolation. With every hour we spend in our rooms with the one window, overlooking nothing but cement walls.

Your emails are not finding us well. We are deep in survival mode, heavily relying on coping mechanisms that ensure our survival. We are not okay. We are tired, fed up, deeply exhausted yet we are still expected to keep up the same academic expectations. We are not okay and there is no cure for this kind of illness. There is absolutely nothing in our control to stop this but to have faith and be still, to wait, to lie down looking up at the ceiling day after day. Just waiting for that one phone call or that one news report that means we can finally sleep again without our mind snaring us in its trap. That one day after mother nature has had time to heal, and the last person has been released from the hospital, we may come out of isolation, and exhale a deep breath of air, unafraid of what is to come. Perhaps then, you may find us well.


About the author(s): Esther Appiah is a Ghanaian born advocate and educator who utilizes  empowerment and education to uplift and highlight the struggles of communities of color.

Copyrighted by Esther Appiah. Editorial assistance provided by Beatrice Alicea. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College.

As the creator of “Isolated with our triggers: We are not well”, I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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Covid Stories

Stuck at Home – Life During Coronavirus is a digital storybook, pairing watercolor and ink illustrations with short pieces of text. The project is intended for younger children who might not understand what is going on in the world. The sheer amount of information about COVID is incredibly daunting, even to adults. During my own conversations with younger family members, I have found it difficult to explain the current pandemic. I want to be honest, but I don’t want to scare them. By pairing short, readable captions with colorful illustrations, I aim to provide real and valuable information to a younger audience.


Stuck At Home – Life during Coronavirus

About the Author: Olivia is a sophomore at Trinity studying Political Science and has been involved with CHER through the Community Action Gateway and the Research Fellows Program. She enjoys painting in her free time.

Copyrighted by Olivia Zeiner-Morrish. Editorial assistance provided by Megan Faver Hartline. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College. 

As the creator of “Stuck at Home – Life During Coronavirus” I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

 

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Covid Stories

My first-person story is about international students who are unable to go home during this pandemic, struggling to decide whether to travel to home, and the difficulties they have faced during and after travel. The intended audience is anyone in the Trinity community but I think anyone in general can feel the story at the time of this pandemic. I feel so attached to this story and I believe many other international students around the globe will relate to this. 


It was morning time in my place when I received a video call on WhatsApp from my friend, Harieth, an international student at Trinity College from Tanzania. I picked up the call without delay as I realized it was almost midnight in the USA. She was cooking rice at midnight to tone down her stress. As she stirred the rice Harieth said, “ Trinity has become so quiet and it is frustrating to stay in college when you all have already left home.” She had decided to stay in college as she had a summer research in the USA, and she did not feel going back home and coming back to Trinity again within a month would be feasible. But every mobile notification brought sad news and fear  about the explosion of the virus, the death toll, and the uncertainty to follow. “I’m starting to wonder if I should go home and be with my family,” she said. She turned her camera back and showed her room. Most of her things were packed in a box except few of her necessities, as if she would leave her room within an hour. She turned back the camera to herself and said, “I cannot decide, Archana. I have been packing and unpacking for the whole day.”

Going back home was not easy by then. The epidemic was at peak and travelling internationally for more than a day was riskier. Fourteen days of compulsory quarantine in the government’s place did not seem easy and trustable. Online classes added difficulty due to the requirement of the internet connection. These circumstances left her stuck in her room overwhelmed by the thoughts that were trying to predict and see through those uncertainties. I completely felt her stress. I knew the pain of loneliness and indecisiveness. I knew the feeling of anxiety and bursting desire to be at home with family especially after watching friends’ parents come to drive them home. I had been experiencing this feeling for the endurable summer, haunting December, and agonizing first few days of this spring. My thoughts clashed – can I get back home safely? Will I be putting my loved ones at risk?  The guilt of risking my own family members due to my exposure was not less than that disturbing loneliness. But staying on campus was not easy either when I could not predict the possibilities.

I could not help Harrieth with any decision. There was not a concrete answer. The post travel was not easy either. As much tough the decision was, I knew the earlier she made her decision the better off she would be.

Talking with Harieth reminded me of my other friend, Sujata, an undergraduate student in Canada, from Nepal, who is now stranded  in Canada because she could not get back home. I had called her the morning I left the USA to let her know that Nepal would cancel all international flights starting next midnight. By that time, we only had 1 and half days to decide, pack, and travel 27+ hours to be at home. She had not thought about returning to Nepal as her college residence was not closed until then. But she called me six hours later, when I was at Boston airport, panicked on receiving an email from college, which asked her to leave college residence within 4 days. She scrambled to search for the flights to Nepal but unfortunately she was six hours too late. There was no flight she could catch to travel to Nepal. The email six hours later made her clear that she should return back home, however, those six hours left her stranded in Canada with no home.   

I did not want Harieth to be stuck without any other choices in the USA like Sujata in Canada. I told her to decide as early as she could though I knew none of the decisions had an easier path.

On hanging up the call with Harieth, I wanted to check in with Sujata. I scrolled through the Facebook messenger, but she was not online, and I realized that it was already past 1 am in Canada. I waited until the night in Nepal and called her a second after she was online. She was then staying in a friend’s empty apartment, who left home after that short notice from college. She shared how she had been short on her groceries but scared to go to the market. She told that she would come back home right after lockdown, but she also knew that the day would not show up anytime soon with this increasing crisis. She understood that her oncampus job would end soon but this epidemic would not, neither her requirements for money to pay rent and food would.

We both had left Nepal almost one and half years ago on the same day and had discussed returning together. I was already at home, aware how worried her family were for her. I could see fear, growing impatience, and willingness to be at home in her eyes too. That did not feel right to me. I could not talk; we both could not talk, and we hung up a call after a long silence.

I stared at my laptop screen for so long. Every thought crossing my mind reminded me how lucky I was to be with my family during the uncertainty. As I had met my parents after one and half years, I was upset about not being able to hug my parents, be around them, and talk to them all the time due to my home quarantine, but that did not feel like a problem at all after talking to my friends. I could not think anything but just be grateful to be with my family, my loved ones.

My phone blinked. I received a text from Harieth, “I am on the way to the airport.” I sent my thoughts and prayers to both of them. 


About the author: Archana Adhikari ’22 is a sophomore at Trinity College, from Nepal. Archana is majoring in biomedical engineering and minoring in Writing, Rhetoric, and Media Studies.

Copyrighted by Archana Adhikari. Editorial assistance provided by Erica Crowley. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College.

As the creator of “Far From Home: International Students During Covid”, I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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Covid Stories

In mid November, I left for Athens, Greece, to study abroad in the neighborhood of Pangrati until May. due to Covid-19, I was sent home in late March. I decided to depict my relationship and goodbye to the city through this series of poems.  

 

Maybe I Will Realize I Am Unknowable in This City 

 

This city was more than I had inside of me. 

At first, I thought it was just a giant womb turned

inside out, the product of plasma,

but it was so much more. 

 

It was only a few short weeks before

I told myself I knew the hills, 

those slipping pink sunsets 

or the sweet carrots from the morning 

market that we would eat,

whole, in the calm clamoring 

of Friday mornings. 

 

Maybe I even told myself

I knew the man who slept

in the doorways and steps

of our street. Sometimes at night

as I stood on the balcony

I could see the orange and white cats

circling around him in the dark, 

and only then knew it was impossible.

 

Baudelaire said the city swarms

With innocent monsters. Sometimes

I would look down at my hand 

on the leather seat 

as the taxi sped through the boundless city,

and I swore it looked so foreign

I sometimes thought it was not 

my own. 

 

What the City Said It Was

 

Sometimes, the city was just the man

who sold blood oranges on the corner, 

his Έχεις όμορφα μάτια! exists like quicksilver,

but then flickers and is gone. 

In the early mornings, it was an old priest

waving through the net of vines 

on the yellow church windows. 

Here, it smells like salt and potatoes,

sweet pipe smoke and cats. 

 

It takes me awhile to love Syntagma Square 

and its quick ignition like the start of a star

in the same way I loved the pink sea

dissolving into sequins at sunset, 

or the quiet turns of the big garden,

but in the end everything gives me

some strange ache. 

 

At night, green birds chanted in the holes

of the sour orange trees.

I would grab the hand of whoever was beside me-

it never seemed to matter there- and say

I’m staying forever with my eyes

refracting the purple hills

as they melted into gold. 

 

February 8, 2020

 

The first call came through on the balcony

outside our apartment. Here it was a day of blues,

the dark mountains lying quietly 

under the indigo sky that I knew would melt 

into navy and stay that way until

sunrise. In China, the 63rd person died

since morning. I’m glad you are happy there, Mom said 

through the phone, while my fingers flicked on my thigh,

I am I am I am! There was something new in her

beautiful phone voice. 

 

We wanted to sunbathe but 

were told it was too American

so we sat in our clothes, 

revelling in the tick tick of dripping

sweat. Are you being safe I asked,

Are people beginning to worry?

Church bells began somewhere in the city below,

then stopped and echoed into the loud 

silence of the streets, the bells 

last murmur chanting with her,

I am I am I am. 

 

A Week Before 

 

The heat wave began before I left for Venice, 

but it was there too. I felt it

curled up in the alleyways, 

hanging low in the canals. I saw a cruise ship 

pull up to the docks from the top of Saint Marks, 

harsh and white and huge in the flush of dusk. 

 

When I got back

I was sick with fever, but 

the oily hit of pigeon wings as they slapped

together, the thick stench of urine and marijuana,

the sticky musk of the city cats didn’t help. 

 

A doctor was sent to my room. There was suddenly

a hundred of him in the mirrored walls of the elevator,

two hundred small eyes staring

above the blue mask. I lay on my bed, the springs 

digging into my back as he fingered 

each rib, Your last name sounds German. Are you

German? and my flatline response.

He says you don’t have it but 

washes his hands, anyways, until

they are raw.

 

As the elevator doors shut on a hundred grinning

doctors, I was alone in the dark. 

The shadows from the AC vent split my skin 

into lines. Through it I could hear the couple 

that began fighting at 9 pm each night

starting early, the men on the bottom floor catcalling 

the refugee girls from their balcony, a baby crying 

into an empty room below. 

 

Last Night

 

My fever sputtered, then petered out

on the day the government said 

we wouldn’t go to class again. 

The dark streets called us out, 

pulsing, and we let them take us 

into the salty midnight. I know you 

as a reckless city, a fuck-me city, 

a caring city, a big golden puddle city. 

 

The Polish woman that owned the bar

knew this was the last night for a while. 

The old man who was a famous artist

sat under the awning, watching us 

like we were flames. I guess it was

obvious that we thought we were invincible.

I heard he might close the borders tomorrow morning,

and we’ll be stuck here but we didn’t believe

  1. Then the calls from the US came before 3 am. 

 

The boys down the street were wild

in the denial of leaving, but they 

would be on planes in 2 days. 

As we walked back from the bars, 

the palm trees lining the streets 

caught in their hair. I saw the 

slow shimmer of every sunset they had ever seen

settled in their eyes; a never-leaving sediment.

I wondered if I looked in the mirror

I would see it there, too. 

 

Syntagma Square was empty as we walked home. 

The street dogs were stretched out on the road

sleeping and I went from dog to dog to make sure 

they were breathing. 

 

The stars moved as they always did.

 

The First Time I Cried 

 

The first time I cried was on the hill with the small white church. 

It was covered in cactus. People carved their names

into the thick palms, and I tried but my fingers bled, so

I stopped. I let my legs swing over the hill’s edge 

and watched the low-hung orange moon fall

towards the sea. The white church turned

pink and everyone went quiet, except for 

the rogue voice of a woman on her phone

predicting a lockdown. From here, 

it was obvious how the empty 

purple mountains squeezed 

the city together, and how easily

the city gave in. My fingers throbbed 

as I cried for the first time into the colored 

silence, and I wondered how something

so perfect could make my heart bend

and almost break. 

 

What the City Is 

 

I walked out to greet the 3 am taxi,

oranges catching under the wheels

of my luggage. The drivers voice 

was muffled behind a mask-

I’ve been going back and forth from the airport 

all night, you Americans really are trying 

to get out. As car began to move 

through the black, the panic

stirred low inside me. I tried to catch

one last look at our top floor balcony,

but it was too high. I swore I saw the homeless man 

shining against the marble stairs in the moonlight.

I felt ashamed I never 

looked him in the eyes. 

 

I cried as I watched the empty city flicker by-

the pockets of pine and cypress,

the orange trees below the white city blocks,

some windows thrown open in the early morning. I wanted to

catch the curtains and hold on. I wanted to drive until the sky turned pink. 

We passed the stadium and I cried because it was empty,

I cried because I couldn’t see the mountains in the dark, I

cried because I wanted to say thank you, thank you, 

thank you. 

 

The highway was deserted except for

a single blue car. The driver still managed to

give us the finger while weaving wildly

across lanes- maybe once

I would have been scared but now I clinged

to his recklessness, the last extension of the daring

city. I am not ready to face the whiteness of the airport

after three months in blue,

but my hand sits steady 

on the seat of the taxi.  


About the Author: Lillia Schmidt is a Junior at Trinity College, double majoring in Art History and Urban Studies with a minor in Creative Writing. She currently lives in Wilmington, Delaware.

Copyrighted by Lillie Schmidt. Editorial assistance provided by Ari Basche. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College.

As the creator of “Poetry in Athens, Greece During Covid,” Iagree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright.

Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

 

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Covid Stories

This photo essay is inspired by New York Times’ digital exhibition entitled The Great Empty, which showcases some of the world’s most crowded spaces looking hauntingly abandoned. This photo essay provides a glimpse of what Trinity’s campus looks like in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak and in an age of global isolation. I wanted to capture images of a once-bustling dining hall, academic buildings, library, and other spaces around campus that are representatives of student life–these empty spaces stood in stark contrast to the perfect spring weather. As I walked around campus taking pictures for this article, I was saddened to see so many beautiful flowers blooming all over campus, yet there was no one to appreciate them. I sincerely hope the true Spring will arrive for all of us and that soon we can all return to campus safe and healthy.


Students pick-up prepackaged meals at Mather Dining Hall.

Silence proliferates Mather Dining Hall that was once filled with students’ chatter and laughter.

The Mill, a student-run arts venue, remains empty but students’ creative expressions and artistic collaborations continue as their events move online.

The Williams Memorial Library would normally be packed with students preparing for finals.

Quarantine dinner.

An empty classroom at Seabury Hall.

The empty Long Walk.

The Trinity Film Festival held annually at the Cinestudio will be premiered online on May 2nd.

Vernon in the time of Corona: Empty and silent.

Beautiful spring day at Trinity.

The once-packed Admissions parking lot. Beautiful campus, no visitors.


About the author: Matin Yaqubi ’23 is a first-year international student from Afghanistan pursuing a double-major in International Studies and Sociology with a minor in Arabic.

Copyrighted by Matin Yaqubi. Editorial assistance provided by Carlos Espinosa. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College. 

As the creator of “Trinity in the time of Corona: a photo essay”, I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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I have been living in my home in New Haven for about a month during the mandatory quarantine, and my family and I have already suffered from the financial burden I believe other low income families are experiencing at this very moment.

I live with my single mother and brother. My mother works at a middle school as a cook, and when the school  shut down because of the quarantine, she was suddenly out of work. It was stressful because although her job had to close down because of the pandemic it didn’t stop the bills being sent to our house, infuriating my mother and causing her anxiety. My mother’s job told her to file for unemployment during this crisis to get some cash flow into the house, but it has already been three weeks and she still hasn’t gotten any aid. We believe there are two potential reasons for this: either everyone else is filing for unemployment and the process is becoming slower by the minute, or she was denied unemployment. Hopefully not the latter. Luckily for us, my mother’s job recognized our problem and are trying their best to give her some type of compensation. They went as far as to send her four $50 gift cards to Stop N Shop. I remember my mother’s face relieved when her boss from the school she works at wrote to her that they are doing their best to give her some type of compensation during this pandemic. However, she also felt resentful because although it helps with buying food for the house it doesn’t help pay the rent and the bills of the house. 

We were so desperate to stretch our money that we even resorted to buying groceries on Amazon using gift cards that I won from my horrible singing at a karaoke event in Trinity College. I was planning to save them for something else in case I wanted to buy something on the website. However, my mother was desperate to save money for food so she had me use the gift cards to buy food online, which was the first for me as I tried to navigate how to order the food. I learned that Amazon has a food item limit in order for people to not buy too much of an item that others want. I made sure to always get the max amount of items I could purchase on Amazon in order to get all the food my family needed. This was mostly canned goods and mashed potato packets since these items were more available, unlike the frozen foods that we also wanted to buy. I did feel annoyed that I had to waste these gift cards on food, but I knew I had no right to complain because it was essential items that we needed if we were being quarantined. We do all we can to save money and wonder when this pandemic will end.

One of my mother’s childhood friends heard that we were struggling, and he has been coming to our home early in the morning to drive us to Wal-Mart since we did not own a car of our own and we can’t trust using Uber or the city bus because we are practicing social distancing. Since I was little, he has always helped out my mother, and she has returned the favor by helping out with washing his clothes and giving him a place to sleep from time to time. Our trips to Walmart these days consist of making a list of the food that we need in the house as well as the essential items that we need to stock during times like this. Because of the pandemic, we make sure to wear face masks and gloves to prevent us from getting sick. Our attire for these trips is usually hoodies that we have been wearing for months because the quarantine made us too lazy to switch our clothes. We usually buy canned soups, mostly chicken soup, during times of financial crisis or state emergency because they are cheaper than other items and easier to cook when we don’t feel like preheating frozen food and making meals from scratch. We don’t take excessive amounts of junk food because we want to stay healthy if we were going to be stuck in the house for a while. That is why we shop for salad, turkey meat and canned fruit in order to have a balanced diet. It was difficult and frustrating at times to get the supplies we need while trying to manage our budget at the same time when going to Wal-Mart.

The night after our first Wal-Mart trip, though, we were finally able to escape some of the worry caused by this crisis.  My brother and I huddled in my mother’s room with her and turned on Tiger King on Netflix. Since we can’t go outside, the least we can do is spend quality time with one another by watching the story of Joe Exotic and debate whether he or Carole Baskin was the worst. My mother always seemed to bring back leftover snacks like fruit and crackers when she was still working, which we ate while watching our shows together. It’s heartwarming moments like these that help us get through our financial stress and have us realize that there are some things that money can’t take away. Although money tends to come up during this quarantine, we can always destress our worries through the power of streaming services that is in our hand.


About the Author: I am a Trinity Student that lives in New Haven and is experiencing the changes in life in terms of how it affects the way I live and the new struggles my family is suffering during this pandemic. My intended audience is mostly to students at a low income and are trying to help their family get through this pandemic and try to get by with the limited resources they have.

Copyrighted by Anonymous student. Editorial assistance provided by Megan Brown. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College.

As the creator of “The Pandemic’s Financial Struggles,” I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. 

Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with a pseudonym to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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Growing During Covid is a story that combines photos and writing on farming in Hartford during the pandemic. As sales outlets for farmers, like restaurants and farmers’ markets, have closed, many farmers are struggling.
At the same time, farming offers solutions to some of the most pressing problems presented by the pandemic. Local farms provide an alternative to depleted and crowded grocery stores and provide much needed nutrition to struggling families. We intend for this story to show the Trinity and Hartford communities that farmers need their support right now and also that they too can turn to growing for mental and physical healing. Even if we can’t be in community with each other, we can commune with the earth at this time and in doing so we feed ourselves, feed our souls, feed each other, and strengthen our community.

Growing During Covid-19

About the Authors: Gabby Nelson is the program coordinator at the Center for Urban and Global Studies and a graduate student in public policy at Trinity. She grows cut flowers at KNOX’s urban farm in Hartford. Adyanna Odom ’23 is a lifelong urban gardener and will intern in Summer 2020 with the Hartford organization Summer of Solutions, a youth-run, non-profit organization that focuses on urban gardening and youth leadership.

Copyrighted by Gabby Nelson and Adyanna Odom. Editorial assistance provided by Gabby Nelson and Erica Crowley. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College.

As the co-creators of “Growing During Covid”, we agree that this is our original work, and that we retain the copyright. Also, we grant permission for this work to be distributed with our full names to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, we keep the copyright to our work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share our work, but only if they credit the creators, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

 

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Covid Stories


About the Author: Allison Rau is a freshman at Trinity who enjoys bringing a smile to others, even on the hardest of days!

Copyrighted by Allison Rau. Editorial assistance provided by Megan Faver Hartline. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College.

As the creator of “Millie the Succulent Takes on Quarantine,” I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. 

Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

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