By Saisha Karri, Miss Teen Asia World 2019-2021
If you were to say “Coronavirus” to me a month ago, I would have called it a modified “flu” that had extended my Spring Break and seemed a distant phenomenon. If you were to say “Coronavirus” to me now, images of deteriorating health, xenophobia, and hopelessness would flash through my mind.
Never had I anticipated that 2020 would be the year a global pandemic would uproot the world. But, for me, it became a reality a few weeks ago on a school trip to El Paso for my speech and debate state tournament. Although the trip was ultimately a great experience, those few days were filled with constant paranoia from myself and those around me. The round-the-clock reminders from my worried mother, the non-stop hand washing, and the bottles of Purell we blew through only added to the fear we all felt.
A week after my return, my county declared a mandatory quarantine – meaning we would have to confine ourselves to our homes with the exception of leaving for vital needs. I thought to myself that this wasn’t too bad and assumed that it would be over within a week. Fast forward to today, I am now on my 5th week of online school and daily FaceTime calls with my friends.
Now, although it is understandable that there is obvious fear and uncertainty revolving around the fact we are in a global pandemic, such a crisis does not justify behavior that would, in normal circumstances, otherwise be considered unacceptable. Xenophobia, younger generations believing their “invincibility” justifies endangering the lives of innocent civilians around them, and the loss of compassion towards one another is pushing society to a dangerous threshold we must not cross.
Unfortunately, one common issue that has gained increasing prevalence is the negligence of mental health. The combination of limited social interaction and the confinement individuals now face has numerous impacts. It is imperative that this is not overlooked in these times of crisis. There are many ways to boost morale, but a few measures that I take include: following a schedule, sleeping early, taking self-care days, staying in touch with friends and family, and finding small activities that bring me comfort. It is beneficial and recommended for each person to find their own unique methods to brighten their day.
In addition to prioritizing mental health, one must also focus on maintaining their physical health. It is vital to keep the body healthy through physical exercise. There are infinite methods of working out ranging from at home Zumba classes to jogs around the neighborhood, with 6 feet of distance, of course. I specifically make sure to dedicate an hour a day for activities like dancing and walking my dog.
It is important that we all do our small part amid the crisis to help fight the virus. Even taking precautions like washing your hands, disinfecting surfaces, and staying home has a larger impact. Practicing social distance is essential, as it flattens the curve on the number of cases. This consequently relieves stress on the healthcare industry as they would have enough resources to help those who are impacted.
Another large issue that has resulted from the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, is the increasing amounts of xenophobia and racism towards the Asian community. Since the outbreak, there has been a negative portrayal of the Asian community within the media and politics which has heightened discriminatory actions towards them. At dire times like these, we must stand strong together and use our voices to combat racism. In no world are racially motivated hate crimes acceptable. Although the outbreak started in Wuhan, it has spread far beyond the border of China and infiltrated dozens of nations. There is no way to correlate the virus to a specific ethnicity or culture. Especially in the day and age where the world is so interconnected and since there are numerous ways that this virus rapidly spread. It is almost impossible to attack a group of individuals on the basis of their skin tone and where they come from. Fortunately, there are many ways to stand against racism such as increasing your online activism platforms, participating in journalism, contacting legislators and police forces, and creating online petitions.
Furthermore, there are a plethora of ways to get involved and give back to your community. During a global pandemic, we should be giving gratitude towards the courageous health care workers who risk their lives by spending countless hours fighting against the virus. As the president of Charitable Students of America at my school, I am heavily involved in giving back to the community. Currently, we are in the midst of setting up online tutoring platforms for students across the district who need additional help in adjusting to e-school. Moreover, we are creating a site to collect medical supplies and donate to finding a cure. There are many opportunities to give back. For example, many organizations like the United Nations are having opportunities to give back across seas, and donate through their website. Other ideas include writing cards directly to health care workers, volunteering at your local food bank, and writing to the elderly. It is vital that we take measures to give back and fulfill our responsibility by being an active member of society.
Ultimately, it is crucial that we don’t lose hope and understand that all is not lost. While we still see all the pain, racism, and loss of lives, we must remember the continual progress and increased recovery cases. If you were to say “Coronavirus” to me now, I see the strides being made in the medical field and the altruism being displayed by our global community.
I see the countless doctors, first responders, and healthcare workers fighting for humanity on the front-line.
I see the advocacy, representation, and support being offered to the Asian community. I see adaptation and optimism.
I see people rising to the challenge and putting everything on the line in this battle against Covid-19. I see volunteers, advocates and survivors.
I see HOPE.
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