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International program alumni/staff from six continents talk about COVID19

Exchange program alumni and staff from six continents are sharing their COVID-19 stories on a blog managed by the UMass Donahue Institute. The alumni participated in education programs over the last ten years run by the UMass Civic Initiative, a business group of the institute.

“Locked at home under ‘house arrest’ on my own. No contagion, at least no symptoms. Family split, I am in Lombardy, the most dangerous place in the world, sister in Lisbon, parents in Taranto. E-teaching is a nightmare, always working in front of the computer,” says an alum from Italy. “Going out every 2-3 weeks to buy food, wearing gloves. No face mask, I can’t find them anywhere, putting a scarf on my nose and mouth, like a ‘far West outlaw man’.”

From Pakistan: “Watching the death toll rising around the globe has made me realize that even at the peak of technology and billions of dollars at our disposal, to fight mother nature head-on is something we cannot do in one day. The virus is spreading exponentially in our country and it is sad that only a few hundred thousand are taking it seriously, while millions are making fun of it.”

The check-ins can be found on the institute’s Tumblr blog.

“The shared fears, hopes, and actions of people from so many different backgrounds and countries reveals our common humanity,” said Dr. Michael Hannahan, founder and director of the UMass Civic Initiative. “We can only hope leaders take this as a signal to bring us together. Not as a tool to place blame and push us apart.”

The international exchange programs have been funded by the U.S. Department of State and managed by the Civic Initiative. The programs’ foci have included political science, entrepreneurship, public policy, education leadership and democracy. In each year of these programs, participants lived at the UMass Amherst campus and traveled throughout the northeast and east coast.

Other countries represented in the check-ins include Argentina, Australia Cameroon, England, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Finland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, Spain, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam.

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