Pandemic perspectives part 2: Views from around the world

By Harry Hodge and Ariel Ian Clarito

The world is under varying degrees of lockdown owing to the threat posed by Covid-19. The pandemic is currently spreading across the planet, with some countries having been given early exposure and others in the early hours of the situation.

My counterpart at the Manila Times, Ariel Ian Clarito, and I have reached out to various connections around the world to understand how they’ve been affected. Clarito first compiled some of these in an online form dubbed Tales of Lockdown (TOLD) and some of those quoted have been added to this multi-part series. This is the second installment of replies we received from across the globe.

The articulate, thoughtful replies that have been shared so far have been thoroughly gratifying and uplifting, in spite of the turmoil we’re all dealing with right now.

low angle photography japan buildings

Photo by Amy Chandra on

Danyk Amyot – Osaka, Japan 

It has been 50 days since I have set foot in a work environment outside my home. As a teacher, I typically have time off in March, so I didn’t feel the crisis as a bad thing when the first cases were being reported. Mostly, it had to do with passengers among the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Tokyo. I felt it was the furthest thing from my mind and was keen to “Keep Calm and Carry On” in Osaka. Now, after my fiftieth day without stepping into a classroom, I realize the weight of the crisis and the toll it has had on families who feel locked-in together.

Adjustments are typically dreaded affairs that have to be made until everything returns to normal. But in my case, normal meant working 50 hours a week on a schedule that differed completely with that of my wife and daughter. I hardly ever saw them. So for me the adjustment has been a positive change, in that it has brought me closer to my family and, though it has at times been a bit too crowded in our modest apartment, we have managed to weather this crisis with more smiles than fear.

When my school informed me that all classes would be taught online, many teachers, myself included, were worried about how well we could make the transition. But with so much time on my hands, free Wifi, and the full reach of the Internet, I found websites that addressed most of the concerns I had.

The trick is to work smart. I often write lists at night of things I need to do the next day. When I wake up, I sit down at a table with my notebook and coffee. I write in longhand all the worries that will prevent me from accomplishing my tasks. These fears, once written down, are easily diminished. I’m able to see how to dealt with the issues I can control and consider how I can find help for the things I can’t.

I realize how grateful I am for a lot of things in my life. The supermarkets haven’t been wiped out of necessities like we have seen on the news. My wife and I have been able to work remotely from home. My daughter has also been able to keep up with her own studies online. Each person in my household has been given ¥100,000 and we have been able to find ways of getting by on a budget. I have made it my responsibility to wake everyone up each morning with breakfast and to tidy up the house so that everyone has their own work/play space.

If I’m afraid of anything, it’s that our vigilance will weaken when work and travel restrictions are lightened. Hopefully, these 50 days have made habits of all the things I must remember to do.

Namely, 1. Wash my hands

2. Don’t touch my face

3. Limit all arguments to the length of a TV sitcom

4. If I am going to yawn during a Zoom meeting, I should also mute myself too!


viewing northern lights

Photo by stein egil liland on

Gry Lovald Stensland – Larvik, Norway

The biggest adjustment has been combining the home schooling of my kids with my home office, while my husband has still gone to work out of the house every day. Also the kids aren’t able to play with friends like they normally do, and having my grandma isolated after all homes for the elderly went on lock-down.

Right now I’m most afraid of being laid off and the economic consequences that might entail. I am also very worried about the general economic and societal impact of Covid-19. I am not worried about the virus, and here in Norway they are opening all schools for grades 1 – 4. What’s giving me hope is the belief that this too shall pass.

people walking

Photo by Alex Azabache on

Adam Wateman and Brittany Elliott – Cairo, Egypt

AW: The biggest adjustment we’ve been going through is learning to live in the same space … and so close to each other for an extremely long period of time. I have definitely read all of my comic books that I needed to catch up on, and insanely reading books.

The thing that I’m most afraid of right now is we’re scheduled to go back to the States and I worry about bringing something back or having something brought into my parents’ house. (At the same time), I’m looking forward to the time we can get out of here, hopefully in the next few months.

BE: I finished my second semester of my Master’s program, so it gave me some extra time to work on it. I’ve bought water colours. I’m going to start working on getting Google teacher certified. I definitely tried to use the time productively… But there are days where I’ve watched Netflix all day.

The uncertainty for me is not knowing what’s going to happen. It’s hard not being able to plan ahead. The news changes so quickly. It’s hard to sift through what’s real and what’s been dramatized. It’s nice spending time with Adam. It’s nice to take a breather (from the normal schedule) I guess.

About hodgedude

I'm a Canadian journalist and teacher, most recently living in Edmonton and Toronto, now located in Ho Chi Minh City. Graduate of Concordia University in Montreal. I've taught English in S. Korea, pulled rickshaws in Canada, taught at a Taiwanese language boot camp, edited newspapers in China and played a French-speaking Spanish colonel on Vietnamese TV. I also play Australian football. Pick up a copy of issue one of my independent comic, "Getting Lucky," at Happy Harbor Comics in Edmonton, the Comic Hunter in Moncton, New Brunswick, and the Spotted Cow Pub, 111 Bui Vien, District 1, Saigon.
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