“Stay safe and positive everyone!” – 6 stories from around the world

As the coronavirus spreads around the world, it affects the lives and work of most people. Six of the amazing human beings we have featured here on the blog, have given us some insight. Where are they right now? How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting their daily lives and work? How are they spending your days? What is their personal way forward? How do they keep a positive attitude?

Do you also want to share your story? Write an email to nuristeinmann@gmail.com!

Tom Vierus (–> Interview: Marine Conservationist and Storyteller Tom Vierus)

Hi Nuri, I am currently at my home in Fiji. I live in Suva, the capital city, which is located south-east of the main island Viti Levu. I was actually quite lucky to be able to get back to Fiji and did so on the last possible day. I was on assignment in Guyana, a pretty unknown but incredibly beautiful country in South America when the cases started skyrocketing, and countries began shutting their borders to travelers from certain countries. I anticipated the chaos and had moved my flight a few days earlier, allowing me to catch the last flight from L.A. to Fiji. Phewww!

Working as a photographer and filmmaker, the pandemic is affecting my life very hard from an economic point of view. Future projects have already been canceled or are just about to I am afraid. I am lucky, though, as I have some editing to do and now seems the perfect time to do it. Artists and creatives are hit all around the world (as are all the others), but we shouldn’t forget that this pandemic is much worse for many of the less privileged people in low-income countries. People that have to struggle or are even unable to put food on the table for their families and themselves.  

On a personal level, I try to keep my days as diverse as possible. We are living in a house with four people, and we have been on self-quarantine for nine days. It is super important to stay physically (and mentally) active and give each other enough space if possible. A yoga session in the morning, then some computer work (photo & video editing), gardening, rainforest walks with our dog, making great food, having a few drinks & chats, etc. The key is to keep yourself busy.

While it is time for social distancing, it is at the same time incredibly important to come together. We should make the most of the lock-down and the situation by improving and maintaining relationships, skyping old friends, helping others in any way you can (if you don’t have to self-quarantine, can you help elderly people to shop? Or donate food to the poorest?) and taking good care of yourself. While it might be tempting to stare at a screen the whole day, it is surely not the best way to spend day after day. Get creative, stay sane, and most importantly, stay healthy and keep distance to other people! We’ll get through this!

Jammy (–> Interview: How Jammy is fighting plastic pollution in the Philippines)

I’m Jammy and I’m currently in Panglao, Bohol. Due to COVID-19, business is temporarily closed therefore I lost my job too. I’ve been practicing social (and social media) distancing, and I’m spending most of my time crocheting bikinis and catching up on films or books. Whenever I take a break from making bikinis, I play some mobile games or play chess with my partner, or just lie down to rest my eyes and back. And since I live so close to the beach, sometimes I go there for an hour or two for some vitamin sea (still away from people, and the beach is empty too).

I’m not really bored, I’m enjoying the quarantine actually. I get to do the things I like to do that I can’t do when I work full time at the resort. 😊

Stay safe and positive everyone! Love and light from Bohol, Philippines. 🇵🇭

Madeleine Wallace (–> Interview: Climate Advocate and 5Gyres Ambassador Madeleine Wallace)

I’m in Brooklyn, New York. As a speaker/organizer/model, there’s very little tangible work I can currently do from home. That said, there’s lots of writing and music making i’ve been putting off. I’ve really directed my lost work time and anxiousness into creativity, cooking, self care, planning for the future.

I have 5 tenets that I maintain throughout my day, everyday: computer related work, creativity, exercise, self care, and human connection. Doing at least one of those a day keeps me sane — however I’ve had a couple days where I’ve let myself do almost absolutely nothing and it feels great.

My mood flows between peaceful optimism and total terror but the pacifying reminder is that this is all a crash course in comfort in the void and that is one of the most important (if not the most important) existential universal lesson.

Raquel Gaião Silva (–> Interview with Raquel Gaião Silva – Winner of the GBIF’s 2018 Young Researchers’ Award)

I am currently in my hometown, together with my boyfriend and family. I am actually experiencing an opposite situation than most people. People are bored to work at home alone… Me? Because I usually work remotely, I am now learning how to share my workspace with others. I used to do skypes whenever I wanted, but now I have to check if there are other people skyping at the same time. A big part of my work is also to organise and attend events related to the ocean, well this has also changed, and every event is being postponed to October/November, those months will be chaotic.

I am working normally from 9am to 6pm, I am doing workouts at home together with my family which is quite fun, I am watching more lives (and also invited to lives) which is also a different experience than usual. I have more time to play my piano and I am now teaching my boyfriend how to play.

For me is hard to think on people that don’t have homes, or that are uncomfortable at home, and people that are lonely. I try to check up on people that are more lonely and the truth is that this situation can be a good time to reflect. To reflect about how nature is important to our well being, how friends and social interactions are vital to us, how fragile is our society, how lucky we are to have one another. The economic crisis that will follow, can also be a good moment to invest on green and circular economies, stronger economies and it can be the perfect moment to stop subsidising pollutant industries. I believe we will have to deal with a new normal, because nothing will be the same, but I am optimistic about the lessons learned from this situation.

Thea Moule (–> Interview with Marine Biologist and ‘Women in Ocean Science’ ambassador Thea Moule)

I am currently practicing social isolation in the UK. The current coronavirus pandemic has completely changed my university lifestyle. All my lectures and teaching have transitioned to online material as all face-to-face teaching is banned and facilities are closed.

Each morning I start my day by having breakfast on my balcony overlooking the ocean and observe its beauty. It gives me a sense of calm during this challenging time. Throughout the day I study and exercise, as it is really important to look after both your physical and mental health. Although I have had research trips canceled (to Iceland and French Polynesia) which I was looking forward to, I know that this is just the beginning of my career and more opportunities will be out there once this pandemic is over.

It can be easy to get lost in the chaos right now, but I keep a positive attitude as I am grateful for my family and friends who are just a call away, having a roof over my head, food in my cupboard and appreciation for living in the moment. Remember this is only temporary and it is not forever!

The image was recently taken when the university first closed, before the lockdown was enforced. I assisted at a local animal sanctuary who required help during this crisis due to volunteer shortage. I brought dog food and took a few of the dogs out for walks. It was great to help out in the community as I believe it is important to help out where ever possible.

Jan Verbeek (–> Marine biologist Jan Verbeek about the challenges in marine conservation)

Since I started my job with SeaForester in October last year, I am based in Lisbon (Portugal). 
How is the current coronavirus pandemic affecting your life and work?I’m usually not one to spend his time indoors which I find most challenging at the moment. My life has gotten rather quiet with the positive side effect of having time to devote to things that during the usual day to day life do not get much attention. I am now the proud owner of a fully functioning shower for example which is a definite plus!

The main problem is the effect of this pandemic on my work. We are currently running two research projects in Portugal which are heavily reliant on extensive field work. In a nutshell, the projects are aiming to test different transplantation techniques for the restoration of kelp forests, including both in situ experiments and ex situ laboratory cultivation of kelp plants. The timing of the transplantation trials is key to match the seasonal variability in environmental conditions (e.g. nutrient availability) and growth and reproductive cycles of our kelp species. The delay caused by the pandemic is likely to reduce or postpone the work we will be able to achieve which is a problem considering project deadlines and reporting obligations. 

I start my day with my usual routine. And yes, I even get dressed in the morning and not spend the day in my pyjamas (except for weekends of course 🙂 ). I’m fortunate in that I’m able to work from home which allows me to have some sort of routine. Even though our field work is highly affected by the crisis, we now have time to allocate to things like project proposal writing and starting with some extensive data and literature reviews. Always see the bride side! After work, I try to be as active as possible. Little renovations in the apartment here and there, some home exercise and the occasional walk to the park keeping of course the necessary distance to others. I am even finding time to finally improve my portuguese, which I’m quite happy about, as this has been a little neglected in the past few months.

All that each of us can do at this point is to keep going, one day at a time. No government is really in the position right now to make any announcements on when things are likely to go back to normal. According to some forecasts we may be in this situation for several months. What for me seems like the best way forward is to make peace with the fact that we may have to stay in quarantine for a big part of 2020. I am finding new ways to occupy my free time, deal with boredom and maybe even take this opportunity for some self-reflection (well let’s see how that goes). I saw a social media post recently that I thought conveyed a nice message. We should not practise social distancing. We should practise physical distancing and increased social connection. This is a time to care for one another, reconnect with friends of the past and spend as much time with family, either physical or in my situation virtual. I think that this crisis can teach us a lot about ourselves, our values and the ways in which we can grow as a person. 

I kind of touched on that in the previous answer. Do not get me wrong here, I am not ignorant to the suffering that this virus is bringing to many people’s lives and that there will be a heavy toll on our economy that will be felt by us all. But out of every crisis there can come something positive. As I said before, we might actually learn something about ourselves, things that are good and possibly things we have to improve. My real hope is that people learn from this and finally see the urgent need to combat the challenges that lie ahead related to global climate change. We managed to take drastic measures, personally and imposed by governments, in a really short time in response to the corona outbreak. Something that would have been unthinkable to do to tackle climate change and halt the degradation of the world’s natural habitats even though time is of the essence. I’ve seen several reports and statements by politicians that urge for the consideration of environmental issues when decisions are being made to rebuild our economy after this crisis which gives hope that things may actually change in a positive way in the future. So basically, I keep a positive attitude by looking at the good things that may come after all this is over. Starting our lives again with some new found ambition and motivation to be better and make the changes that are so urgently needed to protect the environment and with that ourselves. 

Do you also want to share your story? Write an email to nuristeinmann@gmail.com!

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