March 11th, 2020
Living through a pandemic is really something. COVID-19 has already affected us in ways we never could have imagined. It’s spreading rapidly, and I’m sure you know that its social and economic consequences are growing by the minute. I’ve gone back and forth more times I can count and still can’t quite make up my mind on how I feel.
Those of you who know me know that I love to travel and meet new people. At first, I was angry and disappointed when my friends and I made the decision to cancel our trip to Europe. But being here in Philadelphia has given me time to write and afforded me the opportunity to reflect on this whole messy situation and what it is that is really important to me. Especially in light of recent university closures (including Penn’s), I will recognize right now that I’m undoubtedly in an extremely privileged position, with a place to stay and many friends who are here to support me.
The US government has done a pretty magnificently bad job at containing the virus, and our infrastructure is lacking in giving support and resources to those who need it. Similarly, at Penn, the administration is trying to keep student safe by keeping students off campus, but quite frankly, not everyone has a place to go. These changes are abrupt and limited resources are offered for even the most basic things like housing and food.
And maybe I’m being selfish, but I really thought I had more time. I’m choosing to stay here for longer partly because it’s safer here than back home in California, but also because of my life here. I thought I would have more time with those I love and care about here. I’ve been taking everyone I’ve met here, from three years to a month ago, for granted. I’ve taken this city and its beauty for granted. I’ve taken things like spending time with friends and family and having a graduation ceremony for granted.
It’s funny how a pandemic can really put things into focus.
I’m struggling with how to deal with my own personal relationships and how to help those around me. But at a time like this, we cannot afford to only think about ourselves. We should get educated before we make any judgements, but the coronavirus will affect us in one way or another. For now, globalization has only facilitated the spread of the virus. Please remember that your travel and your actions affect others in a very direct way and that there are many other people who might need your help.
It’s comforting to see that members of the Penn community and Greater Philadelphia are proactively supporting others who may need a place to stay. There are also many doctors and first responders that have worked tirelessly and had to make the most difficult decisions when limited resources and time force them to do so. I’m freaking out a little bit, but I’m lucky and I’d like to help in any way I can. Please let me know if you are in the Philadelphia area and would like more information, are in need of assistance, or would just like to talk.
Thanks for letting me write and clear my head a bit. And thanks for reading. In case you need more information or have more questions, here are some great resources:
For the Penn Community:
- A relevant New York Times Article
- CDC coronavirus resources and guidelines
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