Like many of you, those of us who work at Design for Change have seen our lives turned upside down by the global spread of COVID-19, commonly known as the Coronavirus. Our team is spread out across the United States, so we leaned on our already-existing virtual networks to stay connected as we watched so much in our world shift.
In the midst of these transitions, we wondered how we could use our passion for storytelling and empathy to tell some important stories during this historic season. As schools, colleges, and universities shut down across the nation, we also considered how we could virtually support the thousands of teachers and students who were now working and learning from home.
And, in a time of self-quarantining and social distancing, we reflected on our core values. What do empathy and social action look like in a time when we are being told to stay inside and keep our distance from other people?
Toward the beginning of March, we decided to put together a bundle of new podcast episodes about the COVID-19 outbreak for our Design for Change community. I was already in the process of interviewing students and teachers for other podcasts, and began asking our guests questions about hygiene, empathy, and the experience of living through this outbreak. We were also in the midst of a collaboration with some schools and organizations in North Carolina about air quality and its impact on student achievement, which had implications for the COVID-19 outbreak.
We eventually settled on a batch of five topics related to the Coronavirus: Doing Good From Home, Air Quality, Racialized Discrimination, Hygiene, and Empathy. These topics covered a blend of timely topics that were informative, challenging, and inspiring. In this initial stage, we emailed each other articles, podcasts, and resources as we tried to wrap our heads around what was happening.
Then, we began reaching out to people to set up podcast interviews. We contacted friends, new guests, and some voices from past podcasts that you may recognize. As usually happens, we were referred to new voices along the way who had powerful stories to tell.
We heard a variety of amazing stories that were at times riveting and heartbreaking:
· A school community’s trip to the California State boys’ basketball playoffs that drove past a quarantined cruise ship on the eve of their school being shut down
· A college nursing student who moved home after she lost her jobs and her classes were cancelled
· A recent graduate working in construction describing a COVID-19 screening as he checked into a hospital
· Two teachers working in and around New York City who watched the disease invade their communities
· A high school senior who watched her prom, graduation, and other senior experiences get cancelled
· An Asian-American grad student who met someone who refused to shake her hand
· A 7th grade boy who passed out homemade soap at his neighborhood grocery store and left more supplies on his neighbors’ doorsteps
We could keep going and going. There are more stories than we can fit in this blog post, and if you can believe it, even more than we could fit into 5 different podcasts on this topic!
This is a truly historic time. Every day, students, teachers, parents, and other community members are thinking of others, and finding ways to make a positive difference in an uncertain time. We hope these podcasts shine a light on the problems that are happening and elevate the good work being done to address them.
We invite you to check out our COVID-19 podcast bundle, which will include 5 new episodes and a host of supporting resources as well. We invite you to share this content with others who are looking for home schooling ideas and some opportunities to do good. And we encourage you to share your own stories of empathy and action with Design for Change on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter!
Hang in there, stay strong, and keep believing in the good. We will continue to support you as we all seek to understand what it means to do education and community service during this season.