2 Apr 2020

"You have permission" - Part 2, The Coronavirus Diaries

Submitted by Shirley Lin, United States Naval Academy

Last July, an excellent BITeS post by Jeff Raker (read it here) gave us permission to change the courses we teach. Little did he know that in March 2020 we would find ourselves compelled by overwhelming exernal forces to rapidly evolve our lecture classes and labs into an online format. Check out the #operation_covid19 channel on the VIPErPit Discord to read about the amazing efforts our community has put forth in providing distance learning opportunities, asynchronously and synchronously, to students scattered around the country and the world. Take inspiration from this unplanned Grand Experiment and add your own insights to help others!

Now that we've all been given permission to change our courses, I'd like to offer permission to do something else. I recently discovered this NYTimes article, Grieving the Losses of Coronavirus. The piece discusses the importance of having permission to mourn the "little things" that the coronavirus pandemic has taken away. To be clear, the author noted that the magnitude of impact of these deprivations did not rival the profound tragedies of unemployment and illness and death. The thesis of the article was that our mental well-being is also affected by smaller losses that need to be acknowledged.

Below is the beginnings of my list of little hardships from the pandemic (in no particular order):

* Seeing my daughter's sadness at having to celebrate her 16th birthday without her friends there in person.

* Not getting to finish the semester in person with my research student and see him present a seminar on our work to the chemistry department.

* Missing seeing friends at the ACS meeting in Philadelphia.

* Considering postponing my sabbatical, planned for Fall 2020, if my campus is still closed at that time.

Friends of VIPer, please feel free to share your own losses, small and/or large, in the comments to this BITeS post or on the #operation_covid19 channel on the VIPErPit Discord. Nothing is too trivial to include; if it affects you then you have permission to grieve. Be assured that you have the IONiC community's sympathy and empathy in whatever challenges you are facing.