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On the Importance of Connection During COVID19

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Let’s face it, times are tough right now. For those lucky enough to be safe, healthy, and working from home, the newly acquired job flexibility probably doesn’t taste as sweet as it did a few months ago when ‘work from home’ meant catching up on laundry and engaging in some light self care from the comfort of your home office. 

But things have changed, and those activated charcoal beauty masks are just not hitting the spot like they used to (personally).

It makes sense; a lot is going on and things are changing day by day. The word ‘surreal’ comes to mind, as does ‘scary’ and ‘exhausting.’ Or, maybe things are going ahead as normal where you are and you can’t see what the fuss is all about. After all, we hear on the news that only a small percentage of people get really sick, so those of us still in good shape should be counting our blessings, right? 

Like most things, it’s not that simple. While it’s true that gratitude can be medicine for the soul in times like these, it’s important to give ourselves a break. Push pause on the positive affirmations, gratitude journals, and self-distancing to-do lists. Let yourself breathe. Remember: you have to fill your own cup before you can fill anyone else’s. 

You might be wondering why a software company is talking about emotions on their language-learning blog. The answer is that behind the scenes, we’re simply a bunch of humans thrown out of orbit just like you. And in the time of social distancing, we need to allow ourselves to feel the feelings without judgement and reach out for support when needed. While we’ve adapted to texting, DMs, and swiping right, humans are still social beings.

We are more connected than ever. We are watching history unfold around the world in real time. Perhaps, the internet is good for more than just hilarious memes. Maybe it’s time to leverage technology and the internet in order to come together and be there for one another.

We reached out to our (now fully remote) staff for some inspiration and asked them how they are staying connected, avoiding loneliness, and promoting togetherness as we move into another week of self isolating.

Committing to community 

Many of us, seeing the need for support in our communities, want to do our best to be good neighbors and citizens. Right now, that can be as simple as staying home. (No, seriously, just stay home.) And if you have to go out for whatever reason, abide by your city’s recommended social distancing rules. If you want to be more proactive, however, online groups dedicated to certain neighborhoods (like Facebook and NextDoor) are full of opportunities for fundraising and helping out. Teams providing grocery delivery to the elderly and immunocompromised are popping up in some of the most unlikely places, and there might be one in your neighborhood too! While we’re physically further away from each other, the young and healthy are offering up their time and services to those in need, and taking care of each other is what community is all about.

Digital dates with friends

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Apps like Jackbox, Netflix Party, and Zoom are more useful than ever right now. Schedule hangouts with friends just like you would on a normal weekend, except this time, do it digitally. Check out this awesome idea from one of our own:

“Since I can’t really leave the house to attend events and see friends, I’ve been using technology for now,” said Melanie, Mango’s Linguist Assistant. “The other night, some friends of mine hosted a livestream concert, which made me feel like I was able to 'attend' and cheer them on remotely.” 

Other examples include online movie marathons, T.V. binges, and game nights, like Jessica, another Mango: “My friends and I keep up a conversation through messenger throughout the day, and my D&D group has started hosting video sessions instead of in person.” 

Online group lessons and activities

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One thing is for sure: if humans need to adapt, then adapt they will. This goes for many of the ‘non-essential’ businesses ordered to shut down. Instead of closing completely, they’ve used their creativity and innovation to find new ways to help their customers.

Want to get moving? Many dance, yoga, and exercise studios have started providing online classes via streaming or YouTube videos. You can experience professional-quality training sessions from your own living room by signing up, or reach out to your favorite local gyms to see if they’re offering remote workouts at a discounted price. 

Itching for intellectual stimulation? Book clubs, art classes, writing workshops, and language exchange groups have also moved online. You don’t have to wait for one to invite you — create a group yourself! For example, did you know that each Mango profile comes with additional family profiles? You can gift a few out to your friends, and create a language exchange group where you meet up once or twice a week online to study and practice together.

Even churches — a source of community and belonging for many — have moved their services and classes online. Our Marketing Technologist, Donny, experienced this in his hometown:

The pastor records a Sunday sermon for us to watch, and weekday classes are now hosted on Skype or Zoom,” he said. “There were technical difficulties to chuckle over at first, but we got through it and will improve as time goes.” 

Instead of a barrier to overcome, he sees it as an opportunity to grow stronger.

“It really strengthens our church as a community, really putting to test the idea that the church isn't the brick and mortar — but the community, the body of people.” 

Make it work for you

There is no ‘best answer’ for how to get on with normal life during a pandemic. For some, it may be a huge adjustment that requires time and patience. For others, things aren’t so different. Take Jay, Mango’s Lead Visual Designer, for example:

“I'm fortunate to have a group of friends who are pretty tech savvy. We stay connected through an app called Discord that makes conversation easy with voice chat rooms that you can enter or leave at will. Post-lockdown feels like a natural extension of how we already stay connected. While we can't meet at the bar anymore, we can still be together electronically at the push of a button, libations included.

Or Sarah, our Integration Specialist.

I’m an introvert, so I’ve been mostly living my life as normal. I make sure to take solo walks around my neighborhood, while keeping my distance from anyone I see. I've started talking to my parents every day to check up on them, and I watch T.V. over the phone with my sister, who lives in a different state.”

 

For those on the frontlines of this pandemic, those who are sick, and those who have lost loved ones, life, of course, will never be the same. Many of us will land somewhere in between. The most important thing we want to leave you with is that it’s okay to not know how to feel right now, or what to do. Cut yourself some slack, you’re doing your best. And remember, we are all in this together.

Mango Works, Here’s the Proof
How to Make the Most of Language Learning at Home
Megan Polom
Written by Megan Polom

A coffee and podcast addict, Megan is a copywriter here at Mango. She is currently learning Korean and Spanish, and hopes to tackle French next.

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