In times like these, international solidarity and connection are more important than ever. In our globalized world, we have access to information all over the world through the internet, whether it be music, news or friends made on international projects. As our dear EuroPeers trainer, Paul said in his interview with the Chaos TV radio station last week: ‘We should focus on the benefits of a joint global society rather than on being an isolated island’. This island is the place where I’ve spent the happiest time of my life so far. My journey began with my EVS in Dudley in 2015. Two months after the Brexit referendum, I moved to Edinburgh, my favorite city in the UK. I’m about to finish my Film and Media degree. Little did I know that I would finish my dissertation from back home in Germany and that my graduation would be postponed until further notice.
Our generation is incredibly lucky to have grown up with the privilege of open borders. This right to freedom of movement is something we should never take for granted, as many of our parents could have only ever dreamed of this to become a reality one day. As such, my parents who used to live in Soviet Russia, would have never had the opportunity to leave the Soviet Union. And here I am, having been on countless Erasmus+ projects in many different countries and having lived abroad for the last few years. When I did my EVS in England, I still had a Russian passport and I had to go through a tedious application process for a visa to enter the UK. Now I have a German passport which is undoubtedly the biggest privilege I have.
Thinking about the next few months, basically, all my plans have been cancelled or postponed, along with an exciting training course in Brussels and the EYE2020 in Strasbourg that I have been looking forward to for a while. I was planning to have a small trip abroad every month – now I realise that in the broader picture, none of this is essential. In a way, all these plans were linked to my ego and it gives me another perspective to spend this time alone instead, facing my biggest fears. Maybe we all need this introspective time for self-reflection. Going outside is a risk for our physical health, being in quarantine is difficult for our mental health. It’s like the world is forcing us to stop everything we are doing to take a long, deep breath. Who knows how long this breath will last.
So far, 2020 is kind of a weird start to a new decade, not quite what I expected when I watched the fireworks on New Year’s Eve. On 31st January, Brexit happened officially, after a few years of uncertainty. Two months later, I’m sitting in my room back in Germany – not because I was kicked out of Scotland for being an EU-citizen, but because humanity is currently facing a much bigger threat. The current situation with Covid-19 is a time for many of us to realise all the privileges we have been given, for instance living on a continent where a lockdown doesn’t mean a major threat to our lives. As history continues, us Europeans will again suffer much less than many other people across the globe. Let us keep those in our thoughts who will suffer the most from this pandemic. Let’s protect the elderly and the vulnerable, and remember that you cannot always see if someone is at risk, even if they are young.
This could be a wake-up call for us to take care of our health, our families and our environment and to stop causing them harm. This is also a wake-up call from the earth who needs this time for healing. We have to overthink our anthropocentric perspectives and our abundant lifestyles. I do have hope that we can act as global citizens in this situation, as the only way to get out of this situation is together, even if we physically cannot be together.