All posts by internationalaffairs

Living Life

By Lila Usquiano, English Language Program Student

April 2020

Lila wrote this essay for the English Language Program Writing Contest. She received an honorable mention. 

I am constantly impressed with how life insists on sending us messages at the most unexpected moments and how if we manage to receive and digest them, they are capable of giving an interesting and extraordinary turnaround to our lives.

Particularly, the last two weeks of March were extremely stressful for me. I do not remember having, during the year, days with such tension, chaotic situations that slipped one after another without even warning, days where 24 hours was not enough to read the news, talk to my family, and do my homework.

And right on the cusp of those moments, where I only had to decide what to do and what to leave out, who to look good with and who to look bad with, who to support and who to disappoint because of my apparent lack of time, I heard the casual words of a friend who unknowingly not only changed my mood but also gave me a clear purpose to follow this year.

His words were something similar to “In these moments when stress invades you for what you must do and blames you for everything that does not give you a chance to do, my only recommendation is that you do what you do, give yourself completely to what you decided to do without feeling bad about what you didn’t do and what you could be doing instead. Because whatever you choose, that choice comes from your heart and deserves your own recognition and gratitude.”

And despite perhaps having heard those same words countless times in the past, this time, curiously I managed to feel and internalize them in each of my cells and as if by some magic I understood for the first time what it means to live the moment to the fullest without getting caught in the past or the future.

If you have to describe it in words I would say that if you put all your attention and all your intention into the moment you are living in; if  you pass every time a thought of guilt approaches under the table; if you manage to see the details that surround you: the colors, the smells, the flavors; if you manage not to be so aware of the time; and if you manage to smile even if you are alone; you will realize an internal force that is getting bigger and bigger, filling your chest until you feel that it does not fit inside you, lowering your pulsations, and flooding you with an unusual feeling called peace.

My wishes, for all people, are that they can have the opportunity and the privilege of feeling this spectacular sensation more frequently and that we really learn to live in the now and fully enjoy it because the only thing we build is our present and it is this same one that gives us the power to enjoy life while we are living.

A Letter of Hope

By Abdulaziz Alkashi. English Language Program Student

April 2020

Abdulaziz wrote this letter of hope for the ELP Writing Contest and received an honorable mention. 

The recent Coronavirus outbreak certainly changed our lives and the way we live. Schools have closed, flights have stopped, workers have stopped going to work, and basically life stopped. The number of cases around the globe is increasing. Thus, people have to stay home all day in order to protect themselves, and they only go out to buy necessary survival items such as food and water. In countries like Saudi Arabia, people cannot even go out to buy grocery, as the government demands them to remain indoors 24 hours. Surely, it all sounds like an apocalypse, and that the end is near. However, this virus is actually a small obstacle, and humans will get through this difficult time as they always did with other deadly viruses. In fact, Coronavirus is making humans evolve in some ways.

There are many reasons we be cautiously hopeful about this situation. Firstly, this is not the first time that the earth faced such a pandemic. As a matter of fact, humans have managed to deal with numerous other deadly viruses, examples of which are the plague, the Spanish flu, and the swine flu. Coronavirus is nothing compared to some viruses like the plague, which had a fatality rate of 30% to 90%, or the Spanish flu that had a death rate of 23% to 71% (Wikipedia contributors, 2020). However, humans still managed to deal with those deadly diseases by developing treatments. Also, humans got through diseases like the plague centuries ago, when they did not have an advanced medical system that we have now. Therefore, utilizing the high-tech equipment and advanced medical system, scientists will be able to develop a vaccine soon. All we have to do is stay hopeful and optimistic.

Moreover, Coronavirus made the world stick together to fight it. All countries put their issues aside and are now united by working together in this war against the virus. It brought the world together as countries are helping other countries. For example, China provided Italy with necessary medical equipment such as masks in order to help Italy fight the virus (Aljazeera, 2020). Furthermore, communities all over the world are showing acts of kindness. People are not only caring for others, but they also volunteer to help. To illustrate, “people are coming together to sing on balconies in Italy. Others are setting up groups to offer support to the elderly or vulnerable” (Mental Health Foundation, 2020). Therefore, Coronavirus is helping mankind evolve by making everyone unify, despite their differences.

In the end, I have a message to Coronavirus.

Dear Corona,

you will not win against us. You are just a simple virus. Be prepared to lose because humans are united and strong. We will make sure that you do not success in your mission. Thank you for making humans connect and care for each other.

Thanks,

Abdulaziz

Virtual Resources

Check out some virtual resources to stay entertained and engaged during social distancing!

Virginia Aquarium

Enjoy a virtual tour or observe some animals at the Virginia Aquarium!

https://www.virginiaaquarium.com/visit/Pages/Community-Resources.aspx

 

Live Concerts

Attend virtual live concerts for many artists and genres!

How to find concerts on Spotify on desktop or mobile - Business ...

https://www.npr.org/2020/03/17/816504058/a-list-of-live-virtual-concerts-to-watch-during-the-coronavirus-shutdown?utm_campaign=npr&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_term=nprnews&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR1XWHvssaW66eJeiuyj1vBuTiK5owyPFcUmquxUnBV_4g_rsGUKJYan2EY&fbclid=IwAR2Kx1w-q5CR07kSvBfXZm7CXBQsqA_tABuV9ZOs3544CX-wz4G3ILse0C0

 

Free Ivy League Courses

Have you always wanted to learn about coding or Greek mythology? Check out these online courses from Ivy League schools for free!

Here are 450 Ivy League courses you can take online right now for free

https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/ivy-league-free-online-courses-a0d7ae675869/

 

Meditation

Feeling stressed? Download Headspace for some free meditation exercises!

Subscribe to Headspace

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/headspace-meditation-sleep/id493145008