On 11th of March, COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. At this point there were 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 deaths. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are now, a year later, more than 122,524,424 cases and 2,703,620 reported deaths. We are still living life in a pandemic.
While the number of people being vaccinated is constantly climbing, we still have a ways to go. As of mid-March, more than 392,609,534 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. It doesn’t look like things will get back to “normal” any time soon, but there are some silver linings.
A Year of Pandemic Life in Review
In the past year we have all gone through various lockdowns, restrictions and confusing directives as to how to meet, wear masks, go to a restaurant or shop and even when to leave the house and for how long. Different countries have been affected in a variety of ways and people have suffered and are still suffering. We have been separated from loved ones and might not have seen our colleagues for several months, in-person, either. In short — many worlds have been turned upside down.
The isolation that resulted from the restrictions has led to many different things, but not all of them have been negative. As we were cut off from the real world, many have turned to the digital world for help and creative solutions. Online-workouts and meet-ups, working remotely and even immersing oneself in video games and other pastimes are just a few examples. Girl Gone International (GGI) moved their events online and it led to some fantastic opportunities to connect, not only to the women in their local communities, but to other communities around the world!
Importance of Community During Times of Crisis
It all started small when we were still unsure how long these turbulences would last. There were some yoga events shared in local groups then a few more. Coffee chats and language meet-ups, arts and crafts and almost any event you can imagine, so long as there was a GGI to host. As an organization, we opened local events to other GGI communities. GGI has always been about fostering friendships and connection and it was never more important than in this current pandemic.
Many international women found themselves stranded, suddenly isolated, cut off from family and friends who are far away. With the increase of people working from home, there was also the reverse, having your partner constantly around and dealing with emotions that might have been suppressed before or new emotions brought on by COVID-19 related stress.
Learning in Limbo
Whatever situations our GGIs were in, for many of them, the events were a ray of sunshine, a moment to forget the outside world, meet others and simply revel in the company of other women. We are all in this together and sometimes it’s important to be reminded of that.
So many of us define ourselves by the places we’ve been, the experiences we’ve had and where we’re going next, but with travel restrictions threatening airlines and tourist-dependent industries, we were suddenly stuck. Fixed in place. Nowhere to go but where we already were. For many people that meant coming to grips with things they might not have had time to deal with before. Everyone is always so busy. But now we have all this time and need to learn what to do with it. The amount of people who have picked up a new hobby in the past year must be astounding.
Pressure to Achieve
GGI founder, Anne, and Member Relationship manager, Krystina Hoang, did a small interview video together to talk about the past year and while acknowledging how hard it has been, they’ve both found things to be positive about. For example, Krystina “got stuck” with her family and had the opportunity to spend more time with them than she has in many years.
You felt like you had to come out ten pounds lighter, speaking 5 new languages, and be proficient in baking and cooking, while curing cancer.
One point they both stressed, is that we shouldn’t forget to go easy on ourselves. There is an odd sort of pressure many of us feel, to “achieve” something in this time. As Krystina put it, “you felt like you had to come out ten pounds lighter, speaking 5 new languages, and be proficient in baking and cooking, while curing cancer.” These are extraordinary times and we can’t forget that. Just because we could do all these things, doesn’t mean we have to.
The most important thing we should learn from this, is to be kind to each other and to ourselves. We’re all in this together, and we can go so much farther when we recognize this. That’s not just our motto, but something we can see in times like these. #farthertogether
By Sina Pape
Sina Pape has lived abroad on an off since she was 18 and loves nothing more than learning new languages and meeting people from all over the world. Except food maybe. Food is a very close second. Sina also serves as the Production Editor for GGI Magazine and is the former Community Leader of Girl Gone International Lagos.