Generations are often defined by key moments in history. How will the global pandemic we are now experiencing shape this young generation? Will teens and twenty-somethings see this as the moment when everything changed? What will they – and the rest of us – remember in the decades to come?
With the help of an energetic group of interns, Neighborhood View embarked on a project to interview young Malden residents about their life during the pandemic. These citizen journalists interviewed their generational peers and collected stories that crystalize this moment in time, from the mundane to the momentous.
Here is part two of an ongoing series. Read part one here.
David Kennedy: The more you read, the more fearful you get
By Masio Dotson
Twenty-seven year old David Kennedy, who grew up in Malden and has been a resident for over a decade, is an Audi car salesman, a father and now a teacher.
Kennedy has transitioned to homeschooling his 5-year-old son, due to the closing of Salemwood School, using a homeschooling app called “IXL.” The parent-friendly app gives lesson plans for the day that help strengthen math and reading skills (among others) and is completely free and tablet accessible.
But Kennedy admits that the effects of the virus have been coming down all around him. Not only has it affected his son’s education but it has also left him furloughed until further notice, meaning he and many of his coworkers are temporarily laid off. Due to the outbreak people aren’t able to buy cars and are having trouble making payments, he says.
The readjustment to being home full time in a quarantine lockdown and the media reporting on COVID-19 has given him a sense of fear and anxiety. “The more you read, the more fearful you get,” he says. “Especially having a kid and with my mother’s age, I am weary in a sense for them and also trying to be careful and cautious with everything.” He believe that the advisory about limits on contact will impact the way we communicate with each other in the future. He even fears that the government is using this tactic to further distance people from one another, and to promote the spending of money, causing panic and fear, which creates more opportunity to manipulate our thinking. Since the outbreak,
Kennedy has tried to keep some sense of normalcy by spending time with his son and his girlfriend Jess, going out on hikes (keeping in mind the social distance orders) and staying up to date with Netflix and all it has to offer.
Nigel Taylor: It’s not forever
By Jayana Burdine
“I remember hearing about the virus back in November but there wasn’t too much information on it. I knew it was real and concerning but didn’t think it would be this serious,” says Nigel Taylor, 25, who attended Malden Catholic and graduated from Boston University.
“We underestimated the virus.” Now he is practicing social isolation and he can’t spend the time he used to volunteering at Urban Media Arts. While residents can’t dine out, go to movies or hang out at the mall, Nigel doesn’t believe we are all stuck in the house with nothing to do.
“There’s never ‘nothing’ to do,” he says. “Push yourself to work on skills, go from having nothing to do to have a lot to do. Come out better than you came in.” What does not seem very easy for people is staying home especially when warm weather is approaching. “We took things for granted, there was a lot of freedom.”
He spends most of his time writing and making short films, which are posted on social media platforms. He is reading Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. JoyDeGruy. Nigel continues to stay positive and try to take advantage of this time to focus on the good things.
The reaction of his peers to the virus range; some are nervous and scared, others joke about it. Social media is a source for young adults, but Nigel says that it’s questionable if it’s always reliable. “Social media gives people awareness of what’s going on in the world. Everyone knows what’s going on with the virus or what the media displays, he says.
Despite his challenges being quarantined, he’s sympathetic for those who are having a harder time. “I feel a heavy heart for the ones dealing with the virus head on and who have been forced to be isolated from family and friends. Especially the homeless and the women who are pregnant during this unfortunate time,” he says.
Overall, Nigel remains hopeful and cautious during this fragile period. “I’m just doing what I can do to make sure my parents are safe. This makes me fearful and anxious but it’s not forever. One day it’s going to be over. Just have hope and self motivation.”
Finn Sedan: Bike Rides while Keeping a Distance
By Allie Thompson
Although Finn Sedan, a 14-year-old Malden High School student who has lived in Malden his entire life, misses going to school, seeing his friends and going out to restaurants, he has been doing his best to keep active. “I go for bike rides sometimes, but I try to keep my distance,” he says.
He’s also been reading a lot more, playing video games with friends, and watching more movies—but stays away from apocalypse-related movies. Finn’s family has been taking a lot of precautions to keep everyone safe.
“Whenever we get food and stuff, we clean the packaging before we open it,” he says. They order their groceries from a delivery service so they don’t have to go out to the store. They also have refrained from taking public transportation for the time being. He thinks that the concept of social distancing should be more enforced because when he goes for his bike rides, he doesn’t see people social distancing – “they’re all just together.”
He also feels like we’re socializing with others over the phone more because of this pandemic. He’s noticed that people are having mini concerts on their balcony, which is a nice way for people to “get together” without actually having to get together. Finn gets his news about this pandemic from his uncle who lives with him, and from news sources such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, and news channels on YouTube. This keeps him up to date on the number of cases each day.
Most importantly, Finn wants his future self to remember from this time that “we need to take this stuff seriously” and that we need to be prepared for things like this to happen in the future.
Avion Manong: Feels like we’re in a futuristic movie
In this segment, Avion interviews herself.
Nineteen-year-old Avion Manong feels like we are in a futuristic movie where everyone is locked inside some kind of bunker and we have to wait until we hear from “the authorities” that it’s safe to go outside. As bad as it may be to be forced to stay at home, it’s better than risking death. Although for most young people, death is such an “abstract concept.”
Avion just recently moved from South Africa to Malden. She loves volunteering and interning at Malden Access Television (MATV). Avion misses being out and about taking the bus and train to nearby shopping malls with friends and family. She has been looking forward to attending the Zonta “Women Making a Difference” award fundraiser since her grandma and role model, Marcia Manong, was a recipient for this year’s planned event. For now the event has been rescheduled for May 21 , but that will also depend on the trajectory of this coronavirus pandemic.
She’s been in a “stay at home” lockdown now for a few weeks now. Her daily routine includes washing her hands constantly and taking long bubble baths, reading once in a while, dancing, watching TikTok videos and looking out the window observing the empty park. She yearns to be running, playing and meeting friends at the park across from her house, “to just having the freedom of movement when one wants and with whom one wants.”
Avion’s family is taking necessary precautions to keep the coronavirus at a safe social distance. She has received many calls from family and friends both here in the USA and in South Africa checking with her to see if she is coping well and following safety recommendations, while catching up on the last gossip. She is scared of being far from her mom and younger brother during this critical time and especially after recently losing an aunt to (cancer). She feels guilty about not being there to console her 8-year-old brother and her mother who this week received word that one of her mother’s colleagues has become a coronavirus fatality.
Avion’s family situation is further complicated by the fact that her father is living and working in New York City and is one of many essential workers. He does take safety precautions and text or calls every night just to reassure his daughter that everything is OK.
Like many other families, Avion has several family members working in the medical and public safety fields. This causes her to be extra enthusiastic with their prayers, but above all helps her to appreciate all she has, tries to make the most of every day and to express gratitude that she woke up this beautiful morning.
She spends some of her time watching Netflix and the World Channel, watching the news so she keeps updated with what is going on although she doesn’t believe that all content on the news is accurate. Creating content on social media, playing board games, Facetiming with friends and improving her English by learning a new word daily, making puzzles, eating home-cooked meals by her grandma and testing her own baking skills are some of the ways she is keeping occupied. She has also volunteered at Bread of Life at the food pantry because she loves lending a helping hand and realizes. that she has so much more than others.
She keeps reminding herself there is a rainbow after the rain and that this global pandemic has in some ways brought us together despite those foolish people fighting for toilet paper. Avion tells her younger self that this too shall pass and hopes people will take away from this pandemic that no matter where you come from or what colour or ethnicity you are, we are all humans. Because at the end of the day this virus did not choose a race or a specific country, instead it came in like a silent killer –– almost as a test of our humanity.
Will we do the right thing joining hands together to combat this COVID-19 or will we selfishly think individualistically only showing concern for me and mine and witness the destruction of the world as we know it? “I choose to believe we will do the right thing and come out of this better people with our humanity intact having learned much about ourselves,” she says.
Interviews for this project were conducted by Masio Dotson, Kamila Rodrigues, Allie Thompson, Avion Katisho Manong, and Jayana Burdine. Copy was edited by Stephanie Schorow. Overall supervision by Anne D’Urso Rose. Read part one here.