COVID-19 Is Reshaping Our World: Here’s What I See As Some Of The Positive Outcomes

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The continuing coronavirus pandemic is altering our way of life and we are evolving to adapt to a new fundamentally altered reality. Now we wear masks in public, socialize mainly online and follow the news of economic shutdowns and re-openings with close attention. But even amid all the challenges, I am seeing real reasons to be hopeful — glimmers of progress and a refocusing of priorities.

These positive outcomes clearly don’t apply equally to all situations. And none blunt the tragedy of the lives lost to this virus. And yet, as I count my blessings and those I see around me, I want to share some of the elements of hope I see in our new normal.

People can experience the pinnacle of the United States’ judicial system by listening online, in real time, to Supreme Court arguments. Sitting in the Supreme Court chambers and listening to arguments is one of the more special experiences I’ve been able to have. This was made possible since I’ve had the honor of being the tennis coach to several Justices and they engage in Institute for Education programming. Now, to be able to listen in from the comfort of one’s own home, is remarkable. As a long-time admirer of the judicial branch, I feel proud that the Supreme Court made this shift to live streaming their arguments. It’s not an easy feat, but they just did it and we are all benefiting from it.

Institute for Education hosts Diplo Drinks/Quarantine Cocktails with Joan Sealy, Coach Kathy Kemper, Dr. R. David Edelman, and Joanne Ke Edelman, IFE Diplomatic Steward Ambassador Dirk Wouters of Belgium and Katrin Van Bragt, Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter of Sweden, Greta Mulhall and Ambassador Daniel Mulhall of Ireland, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and Dr. Joanna Breyer, and Ambassador Joe Hockey of Australia.

Communication protocols are becoming less strict and more efficient. Historically, when arranging business partnerships for the Institute for Education, proper protocol dictated that I go through official channels like a chief of staff or social secretary. During COVID, I’ve noticed that it is easier for me to speak/text directly with the principal. This is friendlier and more efficient, action oriented, and familiar.

People are taking healthy habits, like hand washing, seriously. This observation makes me curious: Will this habit stick? And if so, will it lead to better health outcomes in other areas, like decreased cases of the cold and flu? I think so! I have always been a germaphobe and am healthy because of it.

People are spending more time at home with their families, for the better, even if annoying at times! I see more families hiking, biking, golfing, playing tennis and being outdoors than I ever have. Nature has incredible health and healing benefits and I am thrilled to see people taking advantage of the outdoors. People are also working on long-needed home improvement projects. Many friends have bought and installed inflatable pools and swing sets and I love seeing so many kitchen upgrades!

People are doing their shopping, including grocery shopping, online. No longer do you see people picking up peaches, touching them, smelling them, and putting them back to choose another. Buying what you touch is much more hygienic. And hopefully thinking through shopping lists and sticking to those lists leads people to buy only what they need so there is less food waste.

Institute for Education's Safer@Home Zoom Speaker Series "Charting the Path Forward for DC" with Beverly Perry and Mayor Anthony Williams. June 30th

People are growing their own food in at-home gardens and cooking their own meals more often. My friend’s 12-year-old watched a YouTube video and built an impressive vegetable garden, all by himself! This connection with nature, working with your hands and understanding what you are fueling your body with bodes well for the future of healthy nutrition.

People are reconnecting with old friends, colleagues, classmates and former teammates through virtual reunions. My Georgetown University women’s tennis team had a virtual Zoom get-together, how great is that? The Institute for Education team has connected virtually with fellows and interns all over the world continuing to build and reinforce our sense of community.

People are working from home reclaiming the hours traditionally spent in a rush hour commute. This is a substantial amount of time that is now spent with family or focusing on a new and fulfilling hobby. People have the time to reflect and consider their lives outside of a daily hustle to and from work.

Institute for Education's Safer@Home Zoom Speaker Series “Tech & Innovation for COVID Response: Best Practices from New York City & Beyond” with special guests John Paul Farmer, Chief Technology for New York City, and Matt Lira, White House Senior Advisor.

People are able to see their doctors online, thanks to a massive boost in telehealth. My 92 year old mom saw her dermatologist via a virtual appointment. It was magic to her! This is a positive development for everyone, but I am especially hopeful about how it will increase healthcare access for people who live in remote areas.

Scientists and technologists are collaborating like never before. The world’s researchers are working together to fight the virus, and its impacts, in an all-hands-on-deck effort.

People are staying domestic for family vacations and are rediscovering the great outdoors. I see many Instagram posts from friends who would normally be on an exotic summer adventure instead exploring the US’s great national parks, prioritizing health and safety.

What positive outcomes do you see? What reasons for hope do you see in your life or in your community? Connect with the author (@CoachKemper) on twitter to share your thoughts and join the conversation.

About the author

Coach Kathy Kemper, known as “Coach” to many, is Founder and CEO of the Institute for Education, a non-profit foundation that recognizes and promotes leadership, civility, and finding common ground, locally, nationally, and in the world community.

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