What have I learned from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Rosie Luo

Editor's note: Rosie Luo is an English teacher from SILC Business School Shanghai University. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

At the beginning of 2020, I was traveling with my family in Israel, hoping to receive miraculous blessings from this amazing land full of enchanting histories and stories. A few days later, we noticed things were getting a bit strange as some people started covering their faces with their sleeves or scarves when they saw us passing by on the streets. Puzzled by the scene, I didn't have any clue back then regarding what would happen to me when I go back to China. Little did I realize that it was only the beginning of the shake-up of the whole world on an immeasurable scale, affecting everyone living on the planet.

My traveling experience may have brought me mixed feelings. Nevertheless, it provided me with a chance to rethink the issues of distrust, isolation and selfishness. The past few months have witnessed drastic and unexpected changes at home and abroad. We started to ask questions such as who can we really trust? Can we trust the news bombarding us on all the media platforms from which we hear stories of different sides and perspectives? Can we really find the truths? We have indulged ourselves in the speed and convenience of online technology, yet we have never felt so isolated as a result of the dwindling face-to-face communication, something we all need desperately as human beings.

Worse still, we saw groups and communities concentrate only on their own benefit without considering the well-being of the entire nation. Some refuse to wear masks, declaring nothing meaningful but a self-satisfying lifestyle. We couldn't help but wonder whether selfishness is a deadly sin in our human nature that could be more detrimental than COVID-19.

A medical worker guides people at a nucleic acid testing site in the Tongzhou District of Beijing, capital of China, June 22, 2020. /Xinhua

A medical worker guides people at a nucleic acid testing site in the Tongzhou District of Beijing, capital of China, June 22, 2020. /Xinhua

With the crisis ever-increasing, maybe it's time to ask ourselves what we have learned from this unprecedented circumstance in human history.

The very first lesson I learned is that we need to have more trust in the people around us in times of crisis. At the beginning of the pandemic, we were mostly occupied with fears, worries and endless uncertainties. Back in February, the business school I work for had to postpone the start of the new semester a few times due to the unpredictable developments. Amid the chaos and confusion, we had no better option but to trust that the management team was taking good care of us and that things will work out soon.

The truth is that the management team took on all the burden and worked twice as hard as before. I almost had tears in my eyes when I received messages from my French team leader, saying that he would definitely stay in contact with us and make every effort to ensure the delivery of online classes. That's how I've learned my first simple yet significant lesson from my workplace: Have faith in the people around us. We will be more united than ever.

I am also learning to be more connected. What we have experienced is like a wake-up call, asking us what kind of people we want to be. About last week, I told an American friend via a voice message that I was starting to read news on international politics, the last area I would have been interested in before the pandemic. He couldn't stop laughing and wondered why I would put myself into a position that would bring me nothing but turmoil.

Jokes aside, my true motivation for my new interest lies in learning more about the interconnected globe. It gives me the chance to renew my mind and find out more about the world I honestly don't know much about. Will the pandemic change the future connections between countries? I'm intrigued to learn and find out more.

The Microsoft store in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., June 26, 2020. /Getty Image

The Microsoft store in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., June 26, 2020. /Getty Image

The third lesson is to be more responsive and responsible instead of selfishly seeking my own contentment. We tend to think we know ourselves really well until we are awakened in ways we couldn't even dream of. After years of being exposed to cultures roaring on the importance of self-identity and individualism, I was more lost than ever. I became indifferent to people around me and things around the world, satisfied only with the pursuit of my superficial happiness and achievements.

Ironically, the self-centered ideas I was holding on to turned out to push me further away from what I hoped I could gain. The pandemic has pushed me to think deeper and restore the significance of my identity embedded in my Chinese background, which abundantly provides me a fountain of wisdom, confidence, strength and courage. John F. Kennedy once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." It seems like his idea still applies to all cultures and nations today.

Are there more lessons I've learned so far? Absolutely. Truth be told, it's not really about the number of lessons I've learned, but the number of changes I'm going to make. So, are we there yet? Are we getting closer to the end of the pandemic? Will a definite answer bring real peace to the world and our hearts? I believe the ultimate answer is within ourselves. We can choose to trust more and be more connected with our family and friends, our community and the globe. We can also learn more about ourselves and witness our own transformation from the inside out. The pandemic will end eventually. Before that, it doesn't sound like a bad idea to ask ourselves once in a while, "what have I learned so far?" does it?

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