#3 post from the quarantine – Covid-19

Covid-19 is spreading and we see everyday news about Covid-19. What we can do is to help to #flattenthecurve by #stayingathome and #socialdistancing. Therefore, we asked some of our members how they experience the crisis, how they have been affected and what their country is doing against Covid-19. To share also some positive points, our members will give recommendations on what we can do while staying most of the day at home.

In our previous blog posts, we have dealt with the situation in France and Turkey. This article deals with the situation in Italy: The pictures from Italy go around the world. Italy was the first European country where the corona pandemic broke out and has a high mortality rate. Therefore, Itlay has been in a national lockdown for three weeks now, but with a slight hope, because the numbers are finally decreasing

Today we speak with Elisabetta Girardi who stays in Italy at the moment. She talks about her own experience of the situation in Italy and what makes her realize how serious the Corona crisis is.

SCC: Please describe how you are and where you are staying right now

Elisabetta: I am spending the quarantine in my hometown, a small village close to Bergamo, that is one of the European areas most affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Luckily I am fine, as my family is. 

Have you had to move in the past couple of weeks? If yes, why and to where?

No. In Italy, quarantine has been established in the first days of March and since then I have remained isolated. 

How is Italy reacting to the Corona crisis?

The Italian government has emitted several decrees that keep us citizens informed about what we can and can not do. To date, most productive activities have been shut down and we can exit our homes only for undelayable necessities. 

How do you feel about the actions of Italy against the Corona crisis?

I think Italy is reacting relatively well considering the exceptional situation. No one was ready, and the government initially reacted slowly, sometimes prioritizing the economy over people’s health. However, as the gravity of the situation became clear, the government has taken strict measures and working to ensure economic support to little entrepreneurs. 

Let us talk about your experience. How are you affected by the Corona crisis?

I should have spent the current in Brazil, studying at the University of Sao Paulo. Unfortunately, my flight scheduled on 12th March was canceled and I could not leave. However, I am being able to follow the courses via online tools, since also Brazil has closed down its universities. 

How do you experience the Corona crisis living in isolation?

After three weeks of almost complete isolation, the need to meet people is strong. But I am lucky since I am healthy and I have all I need at home. I am worried because the hospitals are reaching their limits and we do not see the end of this emergency. 

What is for you most important concerning the Corona crisis?

Seeing friends with relatives in the hospital not being able to receive information. Grandparents dying and the families being denied funerals… I think this made me really understand how serious the situation is.

How do you spend your time while being in quarantine?

I have tried to establish a routine that helps me going and feel productive! I follow my classes online, do sport, cook (a lot) and read. 

To conclude: Do you have any tips on what to do during the Corona crisis?

Establish sport routine! Helps the mood and keeps you healthy 😉 

#2 Post from the quarantine – Covid 19

Covid-19 is spreading and we see everyday news about Covid-19. What we can do is to help to #flattenthecurve by #stayingathome and #socialdistancing. Therefore, we asked some of our members how they experience the crisis, how they have been affected and what their country is doing against Covid-19. To share also some positive points, our members will give recommendations on what we can do while staying most of the day at home.

Today we speak with Ilay Ozsan who reports from Turkey and how she experiences the Corona crisis as a medical student.

SCC: How are you and where you are staying right now?

Ilay: I live in Ankara. Just like everyone else, I also feel worried about the coronavirus pandemic because it is something that we have never faced before. We do not know much about the virus, and it is spreading all around the world at a horrific rate. I am making an effort to stay calm and trying to control the viral propagation by taking simple precautions and educating friends and acquaintances.

How is Turkey reacting to the Corona crisis?

The schools are closed in Turkey and many of the hospitals have been designated as pandemic centers. These hospitals test as many suspected cases as possible. Media campaigns, including television and social media, are encouraging people to stay at home and maintain social distancing. They are also encouraging everybody to work from home if they can. People older than 65 years old are not allowed to go out, and people with symptoms are self-isolating for at least two weeks. Some banks and shopping malls are closed. Concerts, meetings, gatherings, and social activities have been canceled.

Now we would like to get to know more about your personal situation: How are you affected by the Corona crisis?

I am a fifth-year medical student at Ankara University. The university is closed and my classes have been suspended, which may delay my graduation. On a more personal level, I am worried for my family and friends who may be affected.

How do you experience the Corona crisis as a medical student?

The university hospital is being used to test potential coronavirus cases. The ones who test positive are also treated here. All the doctors at the university, including my professors, are tirelessly to treat patients. I appreciate and admire their resilience, courage and hard work. The medical staff here is on the front-lines, at great personal risk, and is helping in this area regardless of their specializations.

What is for you most important concerning the Corona crisis?

I think this pandemic will make us realize how important it is to have pandemic response plans in place so that societies are better equipped to deal with similar situations in the future. I also hope that in the future we will be more cautious of the factors that led to this pandemic spreading so quickly.

What would you recommend our readers to do right now? How should we act now?

We should take the necessary measures and not panic. Specifically, we should keep our hands and environment sanitized as much as possible and we shouldn’t go out, if possible. If we do have to go out, we have to avoid close contact with people. Social distancing is the key to breaking the chain of transmission. Also, everyone needs to realize that this pandemic is a global crisis and all countries need to support each other to control it as soon as possible in order not to suffer from its negative physical, mental, social and financial impacts in the long term.

#1 Post from the quarantine – Covid-19

What has been first in China, reached Europe in the last couple of weeks: The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus is called a pandemic by the WHO (World Health Organization) and at this time, there is no specific treatment or vaccines against Covid-19.

Thus, countries adopted different measures and policies to contain the spread of Covid-19. Initially, the virus emerged in Wuhan, China and after hiding the problem from the public at first, China executed a strict lockdown in Wuhan which is currently being gradually loosened after China no longer reports any new infections. Taiwan and South Korea could flatten the curve through extensive testing, quarantine measures and public health education. 

In Europe, Spain, France, and Italy implemented countrywide lockdowns as countries with one of the highest infection numbers and death rates. But also Germany has imposed a contact ban. The same can be observed in Great Britain but is criticized for hesitating so long. 

The call to each and every one of us, which follows from this and is specifically formulated by heads of government and presidents in speeches to us on television: We can help to #flattenthecurve by #stayingathome and #socialdistancing. Therefore, we asked some of our members how they experience the crisis, how they have been affected and what their country is doing against Covid-19. To share also some positive points, our members will give recommendations on what we can do while staying most of the day at home. 

Today we speak with Andreas Brox who reports from the situation in France and how he has been affected by the Crisis. We will also talk with him about what is now most important.

Happy Andreas in France before the outbreak of Covid-19

SCC: Where you are staying right now?

Andreas Brox: I moved from Bordeaux back to Germany this week, because of the developments around the Corona pandemic.

How is France reacting to the Corona crisis?

France has announced a countrywide lockdown last Monday. It is only allowed to leave the house for grocery shopping, going to work, taking care of relatives and to do individual sports, close to your home. This is enforced with controls by the police, which can issue a fine if you do not carry a document with you that states one of the reasons to leave the house. Many parks and public places, like beaches and rivers sides, are closed.

How do you feel about the actions of your country against the Corona crisis?

France seems to have acted quickly, with first closing schools and universities and a few days later deciding the countrywide lockdown. The restrictions are extensive, but I guess necessary. Positive was in my view that the announcements and rules were very clear.

Now we want to talk about your own experience: What is most important for you during the Corona Crisis? 

I think it is most important to act responsibly and see how you can help and protect others around you. Despite how shocking the pandemic is, I think it’s a time to concentrate on the really important things and show solidarity for everyone more affected than oneself.

How do you spend your time at the moment?

I am constantly listening to podcasts and spend a lot of time on the phone with my friends. At first, I was only following the news and dealing with organizational issues. Now I can use the lockdown to do things I never had time for.

To give our readers some practical tips on how to cope with staying at home, or being in quarantine, what are your tips? 

Do any projects and hobbies you can do at home! I can especially recommend cooking and baking. And to contact friends and relatives you haven’t been in touch with for a while. My podcast recommendation is “the Ezra Klein Show”.

Voices of the Members: Felix Kreis

SCC consists of more than just the Members of our Board. Our engaged members are an equally integral part of the association. In this series, we want to present to you some of them and what they are volunteering as.

What is your name?
Felix Kreis

Where do you volunteer?
Young European Federalists (Konstanz)

Since when and as what do you volunteer as?
I became familiar with the association in 2017 at the beginning of my studies. Since then, I was an active member and later a board member with the special task to organize a joint-seminar together with the Austrian section of this organization. Currently, it is difficult to participate because of my Erasmus-stay in Great Britain where it has almost no local sections.

Please tell us a bit about your organization.
The Young European Federalists are a political youth organisation, that is active and organized in local sections all over Europe The main goal is to promote the European Integration through a strengthened and further democratized European Union.  One local project of the local section in Konstanz is the “Bodenseeseminar” (Lake Constanze-seminar) with yearly changing topics that connect participants from countries around the lake and further, while providing them with skills and knowledge to help the European Integration gain momentum.

What is your motivation for volunteering there?
I think the European Project is crucial to ensure a secure, wealth-entailing and progressive life for all Europeans. The EU could become an influential humanitarian, peace-fostering global actor. But we need informed and committed citizens to fulfill this comprehensive promise. This can be best achieved through small local grassroot movements, who encourage people to think about the EU and what it could become. Besides that, it is great fun to discuss and work with many people who want to achieve the same goals, but often in another way.

Do you want to tell the readers something additionally?
Start volunteering! It is a good way to make new friends and develop your skills! And besides, you will change the world a little.

Interested in the Young Europeans Federalist (JEF) in Konstanz?
Check out their webpage (in German only): https://www.jef-bw.de/konstanz/
Be up-to-date with their facebook page (in German only): https://www.facebook.com/jef.konstanz

Meticulous evaluations, academic discussions, new roadmaps, and entertaining cultural events – Future Conference 2019

by Sena Adıkutlu

The Future Conference (FC) is much more than an ordinary conference; it is about evaluating the previous year, creating new roadmaps and planning the next year. Along this line, it’s about becoming a team and getting to know a new culture. If all of this excites you, why not take a look at what happened at Future Conference 2019?

The Future Conference 2019 was held at TAK Kadikoy in Istanbul with the participation of the old and new IstKon Student Exchange Core Team and new and old SCC Board members. This intensive three-day program consisted of two main sessions; morning and afternoon sessions, and of course coffee breaks to ease the intensity of them! The German-Turkish Youth Bridge supported the event and, thus, was a big support for this and last projects.

In the morning session of the first day, the participants of the Future Conference had the opportunity to get to know each other and to talk about the vision and values of the association in Workshop I ​​under the moderation of former SCC chair Jonas Monninger. For this session, the participants were divided into various groups and worked on different issues. After an efficient workshop, the participants enjoyed their lunch break of delicious Döner and Falafel. In the afternoon, Workshop II proceeded from two different branches. For the IstKon Core Team, Thomas Kurz and Puthyraksmey Yama presented the last year’s feedback. After the presentation, the core team was divided into specific teams and evaluated the feedback. In line with all this feedback, the core teams created the framework for the IstKon Student Exchange #IstKon2020. SCC – Student Connecting Culture – reviewed the last year’s feedback and discussed how to improve with this feedback for the next year. At the end of the day, all participants came together and made a short evaluation. And that’s how the academic part of the first day was completed! 

In the first workshop of the second day, individual roadmaps were created by the Core Team heads. After a short lunch break, it was time to create a common roadmap. All Core team members came together and combined the individual roadmaps to form the overall roadmap of IstKon 2020. Meanwhile, SCC also created a roadmap by developing its strategies under the moderation of Andreas Brox. Practical issues were also discussed in the last workshop of the day. The evaluation of the day was done and the academic part of the second day was finished. The last workshop of the last day was devoted to express opinions about the IstKon project and SCC. Also, decisions were made on key issues affecting the whole team. All of these three days were evaluated as a whole team and officially, the Future Conference was over.

Cultural Events

It is impossible to think of a program about cultural exchange without cultural events! Therefore, the fruitful and intensive academic days were crowned with cultural events.

The Restaurant Khalkedon Fenerbahce was preferred for the opening dinner. This is a delightful place to eat delicious meals while offering a fascinating view of Istanbul. The Formary Honorary President Assembly of European Regions, Hande Özsan Bozatlı, accompanied the IstKon & SCC family at this dinner. You know what is said: Music is universal. That’s why the FC participants dived into a night of music in a karaoke bar. Sometimes the participants left themselves to the rhythm of music, sometimes they sang songs arm in arm. Music once again proved to be the best uniting force. On the second day, the traditional Meyhane Night event took place in Shisha Tavern in Kadikoy. Participants enjoyed Raki with many traditional appetizers (called “mezze”) while having dinner. Again, everyone had an evening full of fun and live music, which is a must for this special night! İrem Aytaç and Eylül Eva Cemail showed a great performance by arranging all these cultural events. 

Meticulous evaluations, academic discussions, new roadmaps, and entertaining cultural events… That’s the summary of the whole conference! The Future Conference 2019 has already ended, but this end is a new beginning. Hang on to your hat, IstKon 2020 and the General Assembly 2020 is coming soon!