Social Impact Scholars Speak Out About COVID-19

The Social Impact Scholars at Champlain College are speaking out about COVID-19 and the slew of negative effects it has brought to the world. 

The Social Impact Scholars Program (SIS) at Champlain College is a group of students selected during the college application process that show a desire to share diverse stories and make an impact on the world. Once selected to be an SIS member, the students participate in service days, specific classes for Core and Math, and attend trips to local businesses, art events, and political gatherings that focus on making an impact.

Since the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has drastically changed. Self-isolation and stay-at-home orders were mandated to help prevent the spread of the virus. Businesses were forced to close to keep the public and employees safe. Across the globe, schools transitioned to online learning. Initially, Champlain’s Social Impact Scholars planned to hold a Speak Out event on campus. When the world turned remote, they decided to each choose a topic to speak out about that had somehow been affected by COVID-19. Below are three of these stories.

Josh Pan, ’23 // Business Administration

Josh focused his SIS project on the safety of Chinese Americans during the pandemic. Once President Trump labeled the virus as the “Chinese Virus,” Josh began to fear for his own well-being, as well as the safety of fellow Asian Americas around the world.

Take some time to watch Josh’s Speak Out.

Because the virus originated in China, Xenophobic people have latched onto the false idea that it should be labeled the “Chinese Virus,” explains Josh. However, just because the first outbreak originated in China, it does not mean all Asian Americans carry the virus. Xenophobic attacks and accusations have occurred during other global pandemics throughout history, but it is extremely important for us to understand that basing accusations on fear is not the way to combat this virus, adds Josh.

Social Impact Scholar Lexy Sophabmixay, ’23 // Game Art, also chose to focus her Speak Out on Xenophobia in the COVID-19 age. She communicated her Speak Out through her art.

Kaya Mulligan, ’21 // Social Work

Kaya explored the pandemic’s impact on reproductive rights. Since the virus has caused non-essential businesses to close, some smaller medical clinics were forced to shut down as well. This means in some cases, people need to travel further to get the medical care they need, Kaya explains. Kaya specifically mentions sexual and reproductive rights in her speak out; abortion clinics have been banned in certain states during the pandemic. This has triggered some women to drive further outside of their direct communicates to seek help.

Watch Kaya’s Speak Out here!

In her Speak Out, Kaya also talks about how the U.S. lacks universal healthcare, limiting the potential medical care Americans are able to receive, based on their income. Some people who get sick are therefore unable to afford the care and medical guidance they need, which can increase the likelihood of the virus spreading to others nearby. As more people lose their jobs, the more health care can become an issue.

Molli Shuker, ’23 // Game Design

Molli’s Speak Out talks about how important media and entertainment are during quarantine. While the news media provides information about the current happenings of the world, entertainment gives us the chance to pull away from reality, relax, and escape from the challenges of the real world for a moment.

Watch Molli’s full Speak Out video!

Creatives, or people who work in the creative industry, are the ones creating the content and art that the general pubic uses to escape. Books, movies, television, and games are consumed by millions of people each day. Molli argues that creatives are just as essential as doctors during this time, but she compares them on a different level. We need nurses and doctors to keep everyone healthy and provide essential medical care, and we need creatives to keep everyone mentally sane and entertained. 

The biggest example Molli uses is the new Nintendo game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which launched around the same time stay-at-home orders went into place. She explains how the game provides the social interaction we need and crave, but in a virtual and safe way.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a social simulation game which allows players to visit friends’ islands and grow their own communities.

Speaking Out About COVID-19

While we are socially distancing ourselves from each other, it is important that we do not emotionally distance ourselves. With the rise of technology, we have the ability to contact each other through various forms of call, text, social media, video games, and more. 

According to the CDC, there are certain things we can do in order to help prevent the spread of the virus.

  • Wear face masks when leaving self-isolation to help keep others around you healthy
  • Wash your hands often with warm, soapy water
  • Social distance when coming in contact with others by staying six feet apart

While we’re all stuck inside, now is the chance to try new hobbies, learn a new language, or do something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t had the time to give it a try. Keep yourself busy, and focus on maintaining contact with friends and family over the internet or at a safe distance.

Check out more information about the Social Impact Scholars Program at this link.

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