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Our Writing Interns Share Lessons Learned Amid A Pandemic

Multiple Authors | South Asia

Note from the editors: Most of 2020 has been spent in our homes, with time to do things we never imagined we would get a chance to do, and opportunities to connect in new ways with people around the world, from the comfort of our homes. We asked our writing interns to reflect on the past few months, and what they have learned during this time.

Part 1: A Global Village

Mahnoor Sargana | Islamabad, Pakistan

Quarantine has been a transformative time for us all in a variety of ways. The entire shift in how we do life brought out things from within us and around us. The adaption to the reality of the pandemic has been an interesting experience: opening doors and closing some (careful of the knob!)

As school became a less dominating part of life I strived to find unique opportunities to accelerate my growth; whether it was a webinar that was previously geographically out of bounds or reviving a passion I had forgotten. I have been actively working on growing out of the shell I had for myself. I experienced the thrill in taking an initiative no matter the scale: reaching out to someone or organizing a picnic for your family. I started seeking joy in small wonders the Earth and all that is around us has to offer. The rare stars the sky reveals in the city, the feel of the grass and lyrical sweetening process of writing a letter at midnight.

Moreover during this time, I involved myself with the task of learning about a variety of topics and themes. One of the the topics that stuck with me was Urban Development and Planning, especially Smart cities in the era of Urbanization. I raised the value of communication and understanding that people are a wonderful variable of life. I grasped the idea that no man is an island and that relationships and human interaction are an integral part of your growth. After all, we humans are social beings.

Despite the lack of in-person interactions, Covid-19 has paved a way to connect with online methods and opportunities. We have become a global village more than ever before.

On the topic of people, I learned the importance of conversations and dialogue. Hearing someone’s opinion on a matter gives a perspective you wouldn't have pondered over before.

During quarantine I also understood the reality of ‘walk the talk’. I processed my behaviour which has not been active prone to the information or knowledge I am collecting. In light of that I have been trying to build cognitive bias towards action. But I am also trying to learn how to take action, what action is relevant and why I should act.

Life is full of lessons and circumstances we have to optimize for ourselves and others. There is much to learn and much to evolve. Here’s to being the best versions of ourselves!

Part 2: Playtime with Paint

Maliha Khan | Srinagar, Kashmir

With the busy ever-moving world, it always seemed like the 24 hours of a day somehow were not enough. There was always too much work to do or too many places to be.

Over the pandemic suddenly we had all of this time that we had no idea how to spend, especially over the summer.

At least for me this was the case. With the lockdown I suddenly didn’t have my friends to decide my evening plans with or a college assignment deadline to meet over the summer. So, I started looking for new and different things to do and stumbled upon a few things. From playing keyboard on my phone to producing music on a Groovepad to baking, I tried everything. I enjoyed all of those things but never continued them for longer than a few weeks.

My favourite things to do are the ones that calm me down and make me feel alive at the same time, like dancing, cycling or listening to music, so I had to look for something similar. This was around the same time that my best friend started an Instagram page for her artwork. I had tried painting before and I seemed to enjoy it but being surrounded with good artists such as my best friend and my cousins, I didn’t felt too confident about my paintings and had given up.

Over the summer her page got me thinking that maybe I should give it another try. After all I had nothing to lose, and so my playtime with colors started. I grabbed a couple of brushes and some acrylic colors and frankly with no knowledge of how to paint, I began.

In no time I found my Pinterest page being filled with ideas for painting, my Youtube searches filled with art videos. My best friend suddenly became my teacher.

The bare wall below my bookshelf slowly started soaking in the colors and came to life.

As you can predict, by the fall I had already fallen in love with watercolors and was addicted to painting. My desk now is covered with paint stains and there’s a little Charlie Brown on my balcony floor waiting for a companion to be painted beside him

What I love most about painting is the satisfaction it gives me. Watching the colors spread on a blank white paper feels like all my stress is slowly flowing out of my body. Its almost like the colors are dancing with each other and with every brush stroke a new move is made. It’s rewarding in a sense to look at something come to life like this and know that you created it.

Part 3: An All-Round View at the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ayesha Mahmood | Sargodha, Pakistan

From cooking to eating, painting to drawing calligraphy, reading to watching movies, introspection to extrospection, there is nothing that I have not tried in this lockdown.

But wait. What are the things that I have learnt from this pandemic? How it has changed our lives? How it has affected our educational institutes? How it has affected our mental health? What role has media played in this pandemic? And most importantly. How will the post-pandemic recovery play a part in shaping our lives?

The pandemic has transformed our world tremendously. From slowing down all activities to maintaining social distances, to avoid shaking hands, to washing our hands frequently, to wearing mask whenever we step outside our home. We all have learnt a lot and still there is much more to learn about.

Educational institutes and pandemic

It is said that every coin has two sides. The same is the case with our education system. The pandemic took our education system from physical lectures to digital lectures. Some students, like me, enjoyed taking online classes, while others claimed it is not a good method, and that they were unable to understand the topics completely. The issue of accessibility is also a concern because not everyone has access to the technology needed to connect digitally. Students amid the pandemic have had connectivity issues, and issues with electricity in countries in South Asia for example, as well. Students have also said that the lack of access to libraries and labs has negatively impacted their research and thesis.