Written by Hiba Khan
Amidst the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, many struggled to cope with lockdown restrictions. There was no freedom for daily necessities like going to work, school, or the grocery store - even taking a dog for a walk was challenging. People were terrified of contracting the virus and what mysterious effects it would have on our health. Caution was advised in every approach to other human beings. All that was left was to stay at home, survive, and pass time. Many avid workers and students were eager to help in any way possible to flatten the curve. Whether it be through information awareness, media circulation, or direct aid to those in need, those wanting to make a difference are always ready to donate their efforts and time.
As an eager medical student in Dubai, my entire cycle of work was disrupted from busy afternoons in the hospital and preoccupied evenings at home to a bizarre stillness. Mayhem ensued as soon as lockdown began. With no hope of going to the hospital for rotations nor finding solace while studying in the library, I was stuck with just my thoughts in a soundless home. After relating to many other students with a similar background and energy, I was drawn to a particular hashtag on twitter: #Students_Against_COVID.
A fellow medical student halfway across the world from myself initiated the topic to talk about the struggles students and young professionals were facing due to the pandemic. It created unity and the opportunity to formulate strategies regarding the many problems that have arisen. After the hashtag, we started developing plausible solutions to many open-ended questions and concerns regarding the pandemic. Thus, the hashtag transformed into a whole movement of the same name: #Students_Against_COVID (SAC).
So began the lengthy and immense work to build teams and collaborate on ideas and innovations. Teams such as women’s health, mental health, interview productions, research, clinical resources, social media, and many, many more were formulated. The organization still continues to grow with enthusiastic and diligent students working towards a better community and alleviating the burdens caused by the pandemic.
I personally participated in a few of these teams and interacted with aspiring students and professionals from different regions all across the world. Each day was a new beginning, and each beginning had a new delight. Experiencing different forms of knowledge from different localities allowed me to expand and adapt my own perspectives. I have gained multiple leadership and organizational skills, but most of all, I have developed humility towards the work being done in SAC. And imagine all this progress being done behind the mere walls of my bedroom. I didn't need to fuss about transport, money, or even come out of my comfort zone.
This may be seen as an odd benefit because breaking out of comfort zones is often seen as the best way to improve communication strategies. However, participating in such a movement and reaping all the rewards from our massive progress would have been hindered if breaking out of comfort zones was required. Removing this kind of obstacle at times can be more advantageous than we consider - it allows everyone to have the opportunity and ability to make a positive impact on the world. Furthermore, to make do with my strong desire to participate in anything and everything, was a struggle on its own. Consequently, having to alleviate that desire and reallocating it towards beneficial projects within SAC was a small but meaningful win.
#Students_Against_COVID helped me find a trajectory towards the problems surrounding us. Other than having a productive way to spend my time and a contemporary hobby, this organization meant more to our audience and followers than to the students themselves. The various projects were targeted towards these followers with the goal to make as great a difference as possible for them and that is the ultimate success.
About the Author:
Hiba Khan is a Fifth-year medical student at Dubai Medical College in Dubai, UAE.