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Weekly Flash Contest #2: How has COVID-19 affected your daily life so far?

What has changed, and what is still the same? Which changes are positive, and which negative? What makes you most anxious when thinking about it? Most hopeful? Is there a particular experience that represents the change to your life most clearly?
Write a 300-500-word blog post exploring these questions and examining your experiences so far.

Every week during the COVID-19-related school closures and shelter-in-place arrangements we are running a Flash Contest, based on the first Daily Creativity prompt of the week. The prompt is posted on Monday, and entries are due by Friday. The week commencing April 6th (Daily Creativity prompt #11) was our second week, and we received a huge number of entries from all over the world: from Singapore, India, Poland, Switzerland, Canada and the United States. We are so proud of our international family of young writers, and we congratulate every one of you who wrote so honestly, clearly, and beautifully about your experiences of COVID-19 so far. We enjoyed reading each and every one of the entries, and it was even more difficult than before to choose our top 5 this week–so difficult, in fact, that we chose 6! PLUS, we have decided to publish some of the other entries separately on our COVID-19 Blog, as well!

In alphabetical order, our winners this week, whose work you can read on this page, are:

Lena Aloise, 10, Harvard, MA
Eliana Aschheim, 13, Santa Clara, CA
Analise Braddock, 9, Katonah, NY
Simar Grewal, 6, Bellevue, WA
Lyndon Raymond, 11, Houston, TX
Michelle Su, 13, Sudbury, MA

Look out on the blog over the next couple of weeks for more writing and art about COVID-19 from these flash contest entrants: Jeongwon Choi, 13 (Mumbai, India); Annabelle Garner-Tamayo, 10 (Omaha, NE); SierraRose Gibson, 12 (Los Angeles, CA); Mehr Grewal, 13 (Belleville, WA); Vivaan Kartik, 11 (Horgen, Switzerland); Alice Pak, 10 (Beaver Creek, OH); Thee Sim Ling, 13 (Singapore); Patrycja Wanat, 13 (Rajsko, Poland).

Congratulations to everyone!

"How COVID–19 Has Affected My Life" by Lena Aloise, 10 (Harvard, MA)

Life often throws surprises at us. We never truly know what will come next. Just when everything is going as planned, something big happens. Something world changing. Something like COVID-19.

This new virus has definitely made life a lot more complicated for many people. My kitchen has doubled its purposes, now serving as not only a place to cook meals, but a classroom as well. The once empty table is now abuzz with activity, worksheets and notebooks stacked in piles and children, hard at work, sitting around it. Instead of face to face class time, I speak with my teachers and classmates over virtual meeting apps, such as Zoom. It feels odd, continuing your social life through a screen.

What is even more concerning than all this change is the position many workers have been put in. Some are working from home, others are struggling financially due to the shutting down of their businesses. I know many people who own small businesses, my father being one of them. Their businesses could close due to the shut down. Others’ jobs have gotten much more complicated. My mother, who works as a nurse, has to take care of patients with coronavirus frequently. Although she takes extreme precautions and wears an excessive amount of protective gear, it is still a huge risk to be put in that position. She is just one of thousands who do the same thing. Our healthcare workers are making huge sacrifices and what they are doing is very noble, but I can’t help feeling scared for their safety.

Then there is the one big question. Will America ever return to the way it was? Our country has changed so much. Never before have we been told to stay inside, have public gatherings been banned. Everyone seems so scared. Every time I turn on the television, people with solemn faces under their masks use large words that I can’t help but feel frightened at. The words ‘coronavirus’, 'pandemic' and ‘infected’ flash across the screen. Will we bounce back and will our country return to its original state, or will this scar America forever?

There is no definite answer to this question. All we can do is hope for the best and do what we can. Stay home, wash our hands, be cautious. In this time of uncertainty, we need to show kindness and support others. Just the other day, I saw a sign, written in a child’s handwriting. ‘Honk 4 Hope!’ it said boldly in glittery letters. That made me realize something. Hope is the one thing this virus cannot take away from us. It shut down the world, closed our economy, but has not taken our hope. That, it can never take away.

"Cancelled for Coronavirus" by Eliana Ascheim, 13 (Santa Clara, CA)

The field trip to Yosemite is the highlight of eighth grade at my school. For months, eighth grade teachers painstakingly prepare for a week in Yosemite National Park. A myriad of forms are distributed, signed, and collected; we students purchase needed supplies like hiking boots and rainproof everything; cabins are chosen; hiking groups are assembled.

Upon arriving, we’re told, we will stay in wonderful cabins. The following days will be filled with hiking, games, meals, and maybe if we’re lucky, skiing. Pack some games for cabin time, they said. Bring some money for the gift shop. Oh, and don’t forget to take water, they reminded us. Up until the trip, Yosemite preparation is all around us, from the advice that is passed on from previous kids to the shoes we wear: to break them in before the hikes, we wear them at school for a few days. The whole school buzzes with anticipation.

A week before our trip, we were assured it was still on. They said that we definitely would go. Doubt crept into the corners of the air–many things were being cancelled left and right–but if the school board said it then it must be true.

But that was not the case. Three days until we were scheduled to leave, an email was sent out to families. Yosemite was cancelled. Not postponed, but cancelled. School the next day was filled with outrage and complaint. How dare they cancel Yosemite? How dare they take that experience away from us? And how could our trip be cancelled when we still had to go to school? That didn’t make sense.

Teachers pitied all of us eighth graders. It was the talk of the school. Everything that people had bought, all of those expenses were useless. Could they be returned? Not if you’d been wearing them like you were supposed to. Stores wouldn’t take used items. So many things went down the drain: money for equipment, months of planning, excitement for a week away. Grimly, we looked at the week ahead in a different light. Instead of Yosemite, we would have school. With the same work we’d been doing for ages. How wonderful, we sarcastically commented.

But that weekend another email changed all of our moods. Now, school was cancelled too. We would begin something called distance learning, whatever that was. So we wouldn’t be in Yosemite, nor school where at least we had our friends: we would stay at home. For weeks. And we are still at home today.

"COVID-19" by Analise Braddock, 9 (Katonah, NY)

I never thought of Covid-19. Something out of the ordinary. It made me realize what loyalty is.

Being loyal is not about doing what’s easy but what’s right even if it is tempting to do what we want. Every day there is a chance for more and more people to get sick. Every day Doctors sacrifice their lives for other sick people.

On my side every day I hear laughter and delightful yelling. Like a fairy tale I see kids on bikes and scooters having fun.  Why can’t I? But I know that I have to be loyal. Loyalty is about keeping trust and doing what helps others. So, I stay put.

It’s hard though. I can’t see my friends and I can’t go to school. It is like I am in in my own bubble. I mean what’s life about if you can’t share it? But I do what’s right. I do what’s loyal.

By now I know Covid-19 won’t just leave. People started it and now they have to end it. People did it on themselves. They didn’t wash their hands and put their hands in their mouths. I don’t worry I’ll get sick but I worry for others. I can’t control their minds or what to do in this time.

Ever think of a beast? When I do I know it’s out there. Anywhere. That’s how I think of Covid-19. Maybe you do too? But I know that the corona virus will stop. Someday that beast will get scared.

In the meantime, being loyal isn’t always easy. But it’s right. But it will pay off. So do what’s right not easy. It may be strange to stay put and not worry. I even think people worry too much. Still I know the right thing to do is not playing with everyone. I don’t just do it for my family but for everyone.

You may not know this but everyone makes a difference. We’re like a puzzle. Some people remain out and most are in.

You choose.

"My Mom, My Hero" by Simar Grewal, 6, Bellevue, WA

My mom is a doctor. She still goes to work everyday even though everyone else is at home. She is brave.  She protects herself. She helps people who are sick with COVID-19. She wears a special blue dress. At home, she takes a bath before she meets us again.

One day mom thought she was sick too. She went in to her room and stayed there for two days. I missed her and was very sad. My dad made dinner and I did not like it. I prayed for her. Then her test showed she was fine.

I was so happy that I jumped with joy. She could hug me again.

My mom saves lives. She is my hero.

"The Quarantine Killer" by Lyndon Raymond, 11, Houston, TX


Dear Myself in November 17, 2019,

Your life in the future will be STINKY NO-NO! This coronavirus thing will get out of control and end up making everyone fear for their lives. It’s technically the apocalypse, but instead of zombies, it’s a soul-eating virus. The school will be as confusing and boring AS HECK. The teachers will be of zero help because they’re not there to help you, AAAAND the teachers won’t be descriptive enough about your daily work so that it feels like you were just blasted with a confuse-ray.

Also, did I mention food shortages? You will see empty rows of your favorite oh-so-good noodles and bagels EVERY DAY!!! I haven't had chocolate milk in 2 MONTHS! Also, for some reason, people think that apparently toilet paper is some mystic GOD, that will save you from corona, BECAUSE THERE IS NO TOILET PAPER, ANYWHERE!!!

And because of all this, I can’t play with my friends like I usually can every day. I can’t even go ANYWHERE. My poor dog is begging to be let out every second. I think we’re all going insane at this point (at least some of us, and some of us means only me), because I have played the same Pokemon Emerald game ABOUT 200 TIMES.

I realize that there are people out there that have it way worse than me, but right now we’re all in a tough time, so let’s get through it together by staying inside. Please just don’t go to like a full-blown party and start a fight. Stay at your houses, play video games, read, and stay hydrated.

Future Lyndon

P.S. Remember at 2 o’clock tomorrow, Doggy will poop on the carpet, and your brothers will start a fight about who has to clean it up-- just a reminder

“Life Under Quarantine” by Michelle Su, 13, Sudbury, MA

Yesterday, I rolled out of bed feeling just as useless as I have felt during the past several weeks. Every day, I have been living the same boring routine of eating, sleeping, doing schoolwork, and spending far too much time with the glare from my phone shining into my eyeballs.
I remember signing in to my first school Zoom call and seeing each of my classmates’ heads in each of their windows like a dozen eggs in a carton. Feeling listless and lethargic, nobody but the teacher was talking, and the only other sound was the staticky buzz from everyone’s background noise. After a few minutes of just staring at our blank faces on the screen, my teacher came to the conclusion that all of our microphones were broken. They were all working perfectly fine, though, and it was just that no students had stepped up to talk. Just mere weeks ago, our teacher would have had to shout above everyone in order to quiet us down.
In my digital fencing classes, we cannot actually practice against each other; instead, we can only work on our footwork and hand technique. Digital violin classes are a little bit better, but my teacher and I are not able to play together because the sound is delayed. Sometimes, amid mismatched mouths and voices, the entire call will just freeze altogether.
It’s not all bad, though. I enjoy being able to sleep in every day and eat ice cream whenever I please. I’ve curled up on the couch with The Hunger Games, not worried about what time it is or how many hours have passed. Overall, although quarantining has been quite dull, I am very grateful to be safe at home, attempting to make the most of my time.

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