A few weeks ago, the commemorations that marked a year since the world went into lock down were a sobering reminder of the pandemic’s toll on our lives, our families, and our industry. Yet when we asked our colleagues around the world about their “silver linings” from the last 12 months, we were inspired by the ways their stories—both person and professional—have been forever changed. Read on to hear from them, in their own words.
On Family Life
I have been given the gift of spending every Friday with my 18-month old daughter, using FFCRA leave. I will treasure that time for the rest of my life
—Meredith Akery, New Jersey
Because we’re all at home more, my kids’ Japanese is better than ever from hearing us speak it at home together.
—Kate Maruyama, Maryland
I’ve loved eating lunch at home with my family most days. I’m aware this is a unique “of-the-moment” opportunity, and I’m so grateful for it.
—Mark Lenhart, Washington DC
I was able to spend an entire school year side-by-side with my virtual high schooler. He’ll be out of the house for good in a couple years, and I know I’ll look back fondly on this crazy time we’ve spent together.
—Kate Desvenain, Virginia
My son learned to walk and it was a moment that my husband and I were both able to enjoy together as a family.
—Brooke Masterson, Maryland
I got engaged at the National Cathedral! And even though this wasn’t an unexpected new chapter to my relationship, being together so much (so much!) has added a depth to our connection that I am thankful for.
—Tess Cannon, DC
On New Personal Pursuits
We are normally international travelers, so our house rental on Lake Erie was just about the polar opposite of what we’re used to. It was WONDERFUL, felt as much “away” as going abroad, and reminded us about the importance of just being together.
—Vanessa Sterling, Pennsylvania
Our neighborhood came together in inspiring ways – with curbside concerts, home food deliveries, art projects, and scavenger hunts. While my world “shrunk” during the past year, parts of it also became richer.
—Jennifer Kefer, Maryland
Being furloughed allowed me more time to read than I’ve had in a long time.
—Allison Rottman, China
As a tribute to my maternal grandmother, I decided to enroll in a CET Customized Language Training Chinese course and read her short stories and interviews in Chinese. I’ve carved out time twice per week to focus on my language skills, which has helped my mental health when so much of my days are dedicated to childcare and pandemic-related stress; and I’ve gotten to experience a new product that CET created. I think my grandmother would be very proud to know that someone in the family is finally reading her work in the language in which it was written.
—Tara Vanacore, DC
Spending two months in Italy allowed us to see family, enjoy different treats from the supermarket, order a decent daily cappuccino from the local bar, and work on my lifelong dream: our Italian home. The time difference allowed greater thinking and productive time for work. I started my workday while the DC office slept, had a long break for lunch and exercise, and collaborated with my team in the afternoon and early evening.
—Emma Impavido, Italy and DC
On Life Lessons
My daily mindfulness practice also helps a lot to cope with unavoidable changes which might happen any time.
—Nova Shao, China
I’ve learned that work life balance isn’t black and white for me. Having defined working hours is important, but the flexibility I value most is being able to weave my life in throughout my day.
—Kelley West, Maryland
All you need are a few important people in your life to get by.
—Tim Baird, DC
I learned to decouple my sense of self and worth from my “output” (creative work, paid work, tangible things I put into the world) and get joy and fulfilment from “input” (information, art, conversation, and, yes, binge-watching Netflix).
—Malika Watson, Japan
The silver lining for us as an organization has been an increased awareness and inclusion of staff outside of our DC office. Now that we’re all remote employees, we are much more inclusive of our on-site staff.
—Allegra O’Donoghue, Egypt