RWS Moravians’ Stories of COVID-19 Adaptation
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RWS Moravians’ Stories of COVID-19 Adaptation

By now, your life has probably changed because of the Coronavirus pandemic, and it’s no different for us RWS Moravians. In this blog post, our colleagues describe their ‘new normal’ and reflect on how their lives and work are different during this challenging time.

Deirdre Cleere, Onboarding Program Manager

When the governor of Washington announced the Stay at Home order on March 23rd, we had already been living in a state of social isolation for a while. My children’s Seattle schools closed on March 12th, big gatherings had been shut down and restaurants and many non-essential businesses closed on March 16th.

We had already figured out grocery delivery and identified the restaurants offering take-out. We made a habit of checking in with our older neighbors. We were talking to our extended family and friends on Zoom. We set up a couple of quiet spaces in the house so everyone could work on their distance learning programs. Everyone was delighted to hear that their orthodontist appointments would be postponed and school projects would be delayed, and that they could call their friends as long as they finished their lessons.

There was, and still is, a sense of novelty to the whole situation, at least for the 10- and 12-year-olds in my household. To stave off their worries about their loved ones catching the virus, I explained we are staying home to keep everyone safe and to buy time for the scientists, doctors and public health officials to come up with treatments, vaccines and testing strategies. They have posted “Stay Positive” signs in our windows. I keep thinking that youth and optimism are gifts at a time like this.

In many ways, as a localization professional, my work life has changed very little. I’m incredibly lucky that I predominantly work from home, and have continued my conference calls and online collaboration with my team and clients. There have been a few cases where a child has wandered into these conference calls, asking for help with schoolwork or if they can have another bowl of cereal. During a conference call yesterday, I was interrupted and informed, very soberly, that there was simply no way to use a bar chart to present the different colors of socks in my daughter’s overflowing drawer. There were even tears of frustration! I’m sure I’m not the only person finding these days to be very tricky, trying to find a balance between parenting and working.

My favorite moment so far was the morning of my daughter’s first online call with her class, when she consulted with me on which sweater to wear. We decided, and then she put it on over her pajamas. “Just like Mommy does,” she said. LOL!

So, most days, I find myself looking at this situation through my daughters’ eyes, and this brings feelings of hope, gratitude and appreciation for the small things.

Matthew Cottingham, Program Director

The biggest impact I’m experiencing is how this is affecting the people around me, both close and far away. I’m lucky: I have a job and a clean place to stay and family with healthcare. I have a daughter who lost a job almost right away, a sister in the healthcare industry which is being impacted in a big way and older parents I worry about. But I look at places like India and the diaspora that’s happening with the government shutting down non-essential businesses, and I think about how the virus is just going to be very difficult to contain without proper shelter and sanitary conditions. The world is smaller than it’s ever been, more interconnected and interdependent, and with something like this that needs to be eradicated everywhere before we can call it truly conquered, it reminds me of how good I have it and how much still needs to be done for people who have far fewer options than me. My daughters are safe; I’ve got a dog and a cat that don’t care at all and spring is upon us in the northwest with cherry trees and (some) sunshine. So, while I’m worried for the people around me, I’m glad that some cycles stay the same and I can depend on them in the coming year.

Robert Jelenic, Global Marketing Director

Originally posted on March 6th, 2020, at: The article has been shortened and paraphrased here.

In late January 2020, my family and I decided to relocate from London to Berlin. The plan was for me to stay in London until mid-May to work and pack up our flat while everyone else moved to Germany in early March. Clearly, things changed, and my anxiety grew about not being able to travel to Germany to meet up with them.

So, I sped up and started to order boxes, pack and organize logistics. Then, in mid-to-late-March, things started really getting crazy. Germany (like many countries) began refusing inbound passengers except German citizens and foreigners already living there. I had to get there as soon as possible. I made my way to the airport armed with a pile of documents proving why I “need to fly.” There were two hurdles I needed to overcome: the airline had to agree and the border guard in Germany had to admit me into the country.

In the end, the airline agreed and the German border guard only wanted to see a rental contract to prove my residency. I was able to show a document best translated to “Confirmation from the landlord” that got me in.

In order to shield my family and anyone else from any possible exposure during my move, I isolated myself from them for the first two weeks in Germany. It was a small price to pay, and I was lucky enough to be able to stay in an empty house belonging to a family friend. And now, I’m happy to be with my family again.

Tatjana Sharkey, Staffing Coordinator

Even before the Coronavirus, I had been working from home, so in terms of setup, nothing changed. What did change is that now I have two little ones (10 and 6 years old) who need to be occupied so mom can do her job just as efficiently as before!

We recently started joining the virtual/online classrooms where teachers have set up their lessons for us to do at home. With that being said, the added stress of now trying to “teach” Grade 5 and Grade 1 subjects is somewhat exhausting, frightening and stressful. Am I doing enough? Am I doing this right? Are the kids going to be ok? These questions are keeping me up at night.

We have been socially isolating for about five weeks now. We are mostly homebodies, so that is not a problem. The kids can “meet” with their friends on Messenger Kids and we do the weekly “house party” with friends online for us adults. My hands have never been this dry and I have never cleaned my house (in particular, the doorknobs) this much in my life. My husband still leaves home for work as he is considered an essential worker, so the fear of him bringing something home and possibly getting my mother sick (who lives with us) is a real fear.

We are definitely cooking more. #cookingwithtatjana! I have been posting a lot of my meals on Instagram. We try to minimize screen time for our children to keep it in the normal range. Once this snow melts, we plan to meet in an empty parking lot and have a social distancing tailgate party.

This is affecting the lives of every single person. I am concerned about all of the people who are suffering domestic abuse because they are isolated with their abusers, and children in particular, who maybe saw school as a place of refuge and aren’t fed or cared for properly at home.

It is scary out there, especially with all the conspiracy theories floating around. It makes you wonder what kind of world will be left for my children and how life will change for all of us in general. I can see certain customs such as shaking hands, casual hugs, etc., not happening anymore.

Maybe a message of hope would be: All great change is preceded by chaos. Remember that.