With Covid-19 causing chaos throughout the world, we decided to conduct a series of interviews with people across the Middle East and North Africa to try to understand how the effects are being felt across the region.
We’ve spoken to people across various countries and industries from journalism, education and tourism to digital marketing, social entrepreneurship, wellness and arts. Here are their reflections on this ground-breaking time for the region and the world.
Andrea Mehringer – Teacher & Podcaster
Andrea of @andreainarabia is an American English educator based in Riyadh. As an avid learner of the Saudi/Khaleeji accents, she began an all-Arabic podcast to both practice and simultaneously discuss her passions. She also does Arabic to English translating and copywriting.
Whereabouts in the world are you, and what’s changed about your life and work as a result of Coronavirus?
I’m living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In my personal life, I thankfully haven’t been deeply affected by the emergence of COVID-19. However, as an instructor at a university, a lot has changed for me professionally. Going to campus where I’d genuinely enjoyed offering lectures turned into hanging out on the couch with a headset, uncertain of whether or not my students could understand me. (Side note: as I teach at an all-female campus, our virtual class sessions were not video-enabled.)
How is the pandemic playing out in Saudi Arabia?
I have nothing but positive things to say about how the Saudi government has been dealing with the pandemic. There have been a number of measures put in place to protect public safety, as well as the livelihoods of both citizens and residents here.
From careful reopening with social distancing, to community groups gathering food and home supplies for donation, to offering free medical care to anyone with the coronavirus, regardless of nationality or residence status…I’m incredibly proud of how they’ve dealt with it thus far.
How are you spending your time in lockdown? Are you working on anything in particular you’d like people to know about?
Aside from typical Ramadan activities (preparing iftar & suhoor, reading, etc.), I’ve established a basic routine of spending at least an hour on the treadmill. I feel like that’s been a lifesaver amidst being stuck at home! Other than that, I’ve had plenty of free time to study Arabic, try out new recipes, and endure the humbling experience of losing chess matches against my husband!
What knowledge or wisdom do you hope people will take away from this time?
Appreciate the little things. I’ve begun to more thoroughly cherish the moments of joy that arise from practically nothing: sitting down to watch a video from my favourite YouTuber, the ambiance of sipping a warm cup of home-brewed coffee, or enjoying a tender conversation with a friend.
What 3 words best describe your personal experience of the pandemic?
Calm, consistent growth…
ARE YOU BASED IN THE REGION?
How has your life changed as a result of the lockdown? We’d love to hear your reflections on the situation where you are. Leave a comment and share your experience of this strange time that’s simultaneously keeping us apart and bringing us closer together.
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