Family and Sanity During COVID-19
In the Spring of 2020 the world as we knew it turned upside down. A global pandemic broke out, killing thousands in just it's first wave, then in May the movement for Black lives gained momentum after the killing of George Floyd. These two moments in history challenged the way we lived, the way we thought, and the way we fought for what we believe in. It was easy to get caught up in worry and fear, but UL students Kerri Sullivan Leger and Theresa Slovacek-Herrera found grounding in their families. Family is what gives us something to be proud of, it gives us hope, and mostly it gives us determination to move forward without fear. Family is what is worth protecting and worth fighting for. For Kerri and Theresa, being with family contributed greatly to keeping their sanity.
It's no secret that the Black community has suffered more at the hands of COVID 19 than others in our greater community. By some statistics such as that from the APM Research Lab, Black communities experience a death rate three times higher than that of the white community. In this podcast on New Orleans Public Radio, we learn, according to Governor John Bell Edwards, that Blacks are the ones dying the most in this pandemic.
Although the effectivness of mask wearing may be debated, masks could help students to believe that they are taking precautions to keep their loved ones safe. Returning to campus in the Fall 2020 semester, University of Louisiana students are required to wear masks. Many buildings required students to be wearing masks before they entered. Some students used their masks as a form of self expression, or to advocate for what they believe. This student, Theresa, is advocating for an organization she is involved in.
Volunteering is a way that some families as a way, not only to stay sane, but to help those in thier community that had less access to supplies that could keep them healthy. Helping others was important before the pandemic, but it became even more so during it. Student, Kerri said "We decided to help our local community garden deliver food to needy families."
When churches and places of worship were shut down across the country in early March, many churches were forced to be creative to reach out to their flock. Some pastors made a point to call the families in their parish to make sure they were okay and if they needed anything. Drive-thru confessions, such as this one. is one of the ways pastors could give a spark of hope to their congregation.
Holidays in the year 2020 are going to be challenging to many people who will not be able to see loved ones due to travel restrictions. "My family has several people who are immuno-compromised. My sister created this survey because wanted to make sure we were all taking proper procautions to keep those people safe," said student Theresa.
Like many things the sports that we love were either canceled or delayed, especially contact sports such as football. Football season was delayed due to COVID 19 scares in the public school system. However that didn't stop families from supporting their players. "Loving football through a pandemic is tough at any age, we became his teammates," stated Kerri.
Humor is another outlit for people to keep their mind off the global issues. Social media proved to be a great way to keep in contact with loved ones and to spread laughter. Late at night, Kerri posts humorous things on Instagram to keep from thinking about how many people died today from Covid-19.
The pandemic showed us new ways to be proud of our families.Theresa's brother-in-law used his small company to make a big difference in his local community. Using 3D printers, he created 10,000 face shields for local health care workers.
Pets can either keep us sane or drive us crazy while in quarentine, but they are still family. Kerri's parrot is no exception. "I decided I would teach my parrot, King Leo, new words during the pandemic. He learned words like discombobulated and transparency."
Going to school during a pandemic is a new and challenging reality. Thankfully the campus library was still open, and students could check out the books they needed to do research and write papers. Although adding school to pandemic life could be stressful, it could take a student's mind off of what was going on in the world around them. Once a book is turned in it is quarentined for two weeks to kill off any virus that may have gotten onto the book.
Keeping our family close and a positive attitude is key to enduring things we cannot control. Kerri is a great example of this "Despite the internet difficulties, uncomfortable masks, and the need to cook my own food (every day), I know it will not last forever, and so, I choose to smile."
Oral histories provide a unique glimpse into the past. They provide insight into the daily lives of everyday people. Below you will find interviews of family and friends of university students which reflect the views of a select few members of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's community on the topics of the COVID-19 pandemic and the movement for Black lives. While the subjects of the oral histories did not share views on some topics, they all stress the importance that their families played in getting them through unpredictable times. Kerri and Theresa questioned a variety of subjects including a COVID-19 survivor, a high school football player, and a business owner.