At home for the remainder of the semester, Clark University junior Kam Rahman has cleared off the desk in his childhood room, creating a temporary workspace to accommodate the switch to virtual learning. In Worcester, in an apartment not far from campus, senior Alice Acciani has developed a “quarantine routine” to take maximize her time.
As the coronavirus pandemic upends nearly every aspect of daily life across the globe, both undergraduates are among the many Clarkies who are finding ways to maintain a sense of normalcy and stay connected through this period of uncertainty.
“My big takeaway from this whole situation is that empathy and understanding are so much more vital now than ever,” Acciani says. “We need to be listening to each other and we need to keep others in mind. That’s huge — especially for college-age students.”
A Spanish major and biology minor who is pursuing a pre-nursing track, Acciani typically doesn’t have much free time. She’s now the last person left in her off-campus apartment and plans to pursue hobbies that had been on the back-burner — including knitting, meditation, and yoga. Acciani also has created a TikTok account to learn viral dances and share them with friends.
“I think that will be a fun way to brighten their days a little bit,” she says. “I also have a couple of pen pals and it would be a nice time to write to more of my friends. A lot of people are taking this as an opportunity to see what’s important to them, and I’ve felt drawn to telling the people I love that I love them, and showing people extra love.”
Acciani says the responses to the pandemic have varied greatly among her peers — while some are still interacting with friends, others have completely-self isolated. For her, it’s all about finding a balance.
“What responsibilities do I have and how do I act socially responsible without going stir-crazy?” she says. “The main way I’m preparing is just telling myself that it’s OK; that we’re all doing this together.”
For Rahman, the resumption of classes will be a welcomed distraction. He’s already checked in with several professors via Zoom and is figuring out how to finish one of his projects, which involves in-person interviews, remotely. As a sociology major, he said watching people’s responses to the pandemic has been a fascinating real-world example of what he’s studied in the classroom.
“It’s been interesting to look at it through a sociological lens — how basically our entire society is having to challenge the way they go about their daily lives in order to keep all of this contained,” he says. “Everyone, no matter who you are, is making some type of sacrifice.”
Rahman has kept in touch with friends through texting and is looking forward to the warmer months. An avid fisherman, he says he’ll be grateful to spend time outdoors with others — even if they have to stand several feet apart.