Mission Accomplished: Students Explore New Hobbies and Passions During Quarantine

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Kieran Aug

Kieran Aug ’20 wears a Bronx Science apron.

As a disclaimer for this article: no one should feel obligated to “accomplish” anything while in quarantine. In the midst of the global Coronavirus pandemic, the only important thing is to take care of your mental and physical health and those of the people around you. For some people, the most they need to and can accomplish is getting out of bed in the morning and that is more than enough if that’s all you feel you can do. Not everyone has to follow Chloe Ting’s workouts or learn to bake bread, contrary to what much of social media seems to suggest.

That being said, many of our students have taken up new hobbies and routines to take advantage of the extra time they now have in quarantine. Though it may be easier to  immediately write off this quarantine as a boring waste of time, many of our students have been at least enjoying the new activities for which quarantine gave them time to pursue.

Some students have channeled their energy into more creative projects that they already had an interest in but may not have committed to otherwise. Mica Nimkarn ’20, for example, has found her creative outlet in poetry. “I wanted to start writing during the quarantine, and by reading more poetry anthologies and books, it has helped me narrow down what my own style is and has given me more inspiration to write.” Sona Marukyan ’20, similarly, “started painting more and making collages from magazines and newspapers.” Many of us can take inspiration from their new endeavors if we’re bored, and look to old newspapers or free online writing as inspiration for our own art projects during this time.

Other Bronx Science students have found ways to make a real social difference even from the confines of their homes. Edie Fine ’21, for example, has been channeling her energy into activism. “I’m working on teams that have brought two publications into existence. One is a zine for XR Youth NYC, and the other is a block for XR Youth US,” she said. “Now, more than ever, we need to be thinking of creative ways to bring advocacy to the digital space. Both these platforms provide community, art, and outlets of expression during a time of isolation.” 

One thing this quarantine certainly has emphasized is the need for more digitally accessible platforms for things like activism, education, and art, which Fine has definitely taken advantage of. Additionally, with protests springing up across the country after the tragic death of George Floyd, many of our students have taken to social media and the streets to show their support. Students, beyond going to protests, have been focusing on digital forms of activism for racial justice by signing petitions, donating to various organizations, spreading awareness, and contacting politicians and elected officials about the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and about stopping police brutality. Nimkarn, for example, though unable to go to the protests, has been “signing a lot of petitions and watching the Zoe Amira video [a YouTube video that gains money for the Black Lives Matter movement through ad revenues]. And once I get my own bank account, I’m going to donate to the bail funds.”

 Ula Pranevicius ’20 has also been doing her part from home and has reached out directly to politicians. “I have called and emailed my city council members to defund the NYPD, assembly members and state senators to repeal 50-a [part of the Civil Rights Law that allows the NYPD to keep records of police misconduct confidential], and local politicians to ask them to donate money that they receive from police unions to BLM organizations,” she said. Though it’s easy to feel helpless while stuck at home, especially to those of us who can’t go out and protest, there are so many ways to still do our part and support racial justice even from the confines of our apartment. So, no excuses! 

Some students have been using this newfound time to tap into their culinary sides. Alex Gilson ’20, for example, has been connecting with his culture through food. “I’ve been cooking a lot, and I’m trying to make meals from my Nonna’s cookbook,” he said. Though he looked forward to the fun activities originally planned for the Spring semester of his senior year, he recognizes that quarantine has offered him time to do things that he had always wanted to do. “I started doing these things because I’ve always wanted to, but I never had the time before. I wanted my senior year to be fun and relaxing, but I know that if we were in school, I wouldn’t have the time to do the things that I wanted to.” Kieran Aug ’20 has also embraced his inner chef, but not because it was a long term goal of his. “I was hungry one day, and we were out of Cheeto puffs, so I’ve been in the kitchen making grilled salmon, chipotle burritos, cilantro marinated steak, and garlic mashed potatoes,” Aug said. Hopefully when it’s safe to go out again, our students will share their newly found cooking talents with the rest of us! 

A philly cheesesteak sandwich on a homemade roll, made by Kieran Aug ’20, during quarantine. (Kieran Aug)

Lastly, students have been using this time to make some money, even from home. Marukyan, for example, has been using the app Depop to sell her clothes. Depop is essentially an online marketplace where people, mostly from the younger generations, can buy and sell things. “I’ve spent a lot of time cleaning my room, so I found a bunch of clothes that I don’t wear anymore and decided to sell them on Depop,” Marukyan said. “I don’t think I would’ve started selling my clothes [without quarantine] because it does take a bit of time to take pictures of the clothing, package them, and interact with people who are interested.”

During a dangerous and rapidly-spreading pandemic, it can be really difficult to find a silver lining, but many of our students have persevered nonetheless and explored a new side of themselves and their abilities. Though no one should feel pressured to come out of quarantine with new hobbies, seeking out different activities for yourself is a great way to support your mental health during this time, something that can be more difficult to maintain when we’re isolated from our friends and our usual support networks. And, please, do your part and support the incredibly important activism going on right now! There are so many ways to support BLM and fight racial injustice that don’t cost a dime and don’t require you to leave your apartment. 

Now, more than ever, we need to be thinking of creative ways to bring advocacy to the digital space.

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