The Art of Staying Connected During A Pandemic

There’s a special kind of physical closeness that comes with living on a college campus, and it shapes virtually everything about the college experience. For four years or more, you live in tiny dorms and apartments alongside people you have only recently come to know. You make new friends, and share with them everything from secrets to clothes to sips from a Solo cup. Every day, you crowd into classrooms and lecture halls in pursuit of an education. You study at coffee shops and on blankets in the quad when the first signs of spring start to appear. When the sun goes down, you cram your bodies into grungy nightclubs, and party at pads that would send most parents reeling. You touch each other physically and mentally as you make your way through day to day challenges and triumphs, and through this you learn who you are, what you like and what you want out of life.

Suddenly, you have found yourselves on the flip side and time is up. Reed students have gone from a life of constant closeness and touch to the opposite end of the spectrum. This pandemic has forced us to recognize the impermanence of our circumstances; one moment, you’re surrounded by love and chaos and bodies, and the next you are navigating social distancing, isolation and quarantine. Many of us would describe the later as a recipe for loneliness.

So, what is the best way for Reedies to find their way through this period of social isolation? We look for ways to connect with others in non-traditional ways (despite the circumstances). While you may not be able to visit with family and friends in person, that does not mean that you cannot connect. Try and think of out-of-the-box ways to stay in contact with friends and family. If you are open to using technology, there are numerous ways you can stay in touch. If you prefer more traditional ways of communicating, there are still options to explore. Below are some ideas of ways to keep you connected with your friends, family, partners and community.

  1. Host a virtual Netflix party. Google chrome has an application that lets you watch Netflix with friends

  2. Send a virtual hug

  3. Have a dance off with friends and have a live virtual dance party.

    (a) DJ Mel of Austin, TX will host weekly Living Room Dance Parties via Facebook Live on Saturday’s, from 6-10pm.

  4. Play online games together like Minecraft. Discord is a platform you can use to play and chat with friends at the same time.

  5. Cards Against Humanity or Checkers more your speed? Have a virtual game night and use Google Hangouts or Zoom to chat while playing

  6. Go old school and phone a friend (but may be text them first and give them a heads up)

  7. Pets are benefitting from our increased time at home. Share some of your best furry friend’s antics with others online

  8. Host a dinner party or charades with friends over Facetime, Google Hangouts or Zoom

  9. Start a personal/public blog, website or podcast

  10. Find a pen pal or write handwritten letters to friends/loved ones

  11. Join a Reed support group

Connect by helping others in your community:

  1. Donate to the Reed pantry

  2. Find ways to help young students who depend on school lunches

  3. Buy a gift certificate to a local small business or restaurant

  4. Check-in on your neighbors or friends who may be more vulnerable

  5. Consider donating blood

  6. Share information responsibly and support those who create good information

  7. Practice patience, kindness and understanding

    Adapted from: PBS Newshour

Connection does not have to be put on hold while we all shelter in place. Try some of these ideas and you might be surprised that you feel even more connected to your friends, family and community than you were before. There are opportunities for growing and deepening your relationships even in the midst of so much change and uncertainty.

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