Quarantine through they eyes of a student journalist
By Nichole Shaw, Q&S Communications Director
It’s been a weird transition for me amidst the global pandemic of COVID-19. As a journalist, it’s been a privilege to learn from professionals who are covering it right, reporting with fairness and accuracy to the best of their ability, but also with empathy and real human voices. We see as much in the New York Times with the section of their newspaper dedicated to “Those We’ve Lost,” paying tribute to those individuals who will not made it out of this pandemic. There’s also a stellar The New Yorker piece that chronicles “The Body Collectors of the Coronavirus Pandemic.”
I’ve taken on a number of work projects that included building my own website, helping to run three publications with Off-Kilter. as the Junior Creative Lead, releasing a digital magazine, and preparing to release an anthology of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by high school students in May 2020. It’s also been rewarding to see some of my fellow student journalists at the University of Iowa doing such a great job at covering the impacts of the COVID-19 disease for the locals of Iowa City, Iowa, at The Daily Iowan. Their coverage has undoubtedly helped their community understand what’s going on, as it concerns them. It’s especially important to have small and local newspapers right now, though their numbers are dwindling as a result of financial constraints and challenges.
As a student, it’s been strange to make the switch from seeing my classmates and professors every day to peering at them through the thin glass screen of my computer.
As someone who was forced to move back home for the time being, adjustment to living my life surrounded by the same four lavender walls of my high school bedroom has been isolating, although I know I have it better than others.
My mom is going stir crazy as she flits between the same three shows: “Person of Interest,” “Kitchen Nightmares” and “River Monsters.”
It’s been weird for my sister too, who was thrilled at the beginning of quarantine to learn from the comfort of her bedroom. She’s someone who self-isolates on the regular anyway. Now though, she misses her friends and struggles to complete work assigned to her by her teachers who aren’t there to help her in person anymore.
And a common theme the two of us are seeing is teachers assign more work for her and me, because they assume other classes are letting up. Exams are harder since they’re now open book, and we’re often glued to our devices for work, school, and some semblance of a social life.
On top of all that, our access to internet has been on the rocks since we both relied on public institutions for free wifi for the most part. Now, we pay $19.95 a week for internet as we await to be given free Wifi through a number of carriers for our lower income status.
Q&S Communications Director Nichole Shaw in a Zoom Meeting
As a person, this pandemic been overwhelming. Despite my aspiration to be a professional journalist, I’ve come to only read the headlines and briefings of the most important stories as they come to my phone and email every day. The overload of information and rising death toll has drained me—in fear of going numb and becoming desensitized to the world’s most important issues, I’ve limited myself to reading only breaking news. Otherwise, I spend my days enduring what seems to be endless Zoom meetings and discussion board posts, mitigated by short walks with my dog, reading a book every other week or so, and eating lots of good food (home-cooked by my talented chef of a mother). I try to find small pockets of joy to keep myself sane, talking to friends when I can (at a safe social distance through the lens of my computer/phone camera), opening my window to listen to birds chirp, discovering a lot of new music, and holding my loved ones (the ones I’m quarantined with) close.
I wonder how you all are doing. I hope you’re safe. I hope your loved ones are too. We will get through this together, because we must. We’ll come out stronger because of this, because we will have learned how to communicate and how to endure. We’ve determined what’s really valuable to us. We understand the precious gift that is human life.
If you have a story to share, send it to me at [email protected] and I might share it with everyone else in coming Scrolls.