Return to HDC Program

Session 1: 10:00am-12:00pm


Moderated by Marie Donahue, Associate Professor of the Practice in the Department of Biological Sciences

Alison Cummins, Muhlenberg College
Creative Writing During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Nepal and United States Perspectives

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals across the globe were spending unprecedented amounts of time at home while experiencing high levels of uncertainty and fear. Creative writers found themselves challenged by this phenomenon, and this research aims to understand the nuances of these challenges from the perspective of two countries. Through analysis of Nepali and American writers’ creative work and self-reported experiences with writing in a pandemic, this project seeks to understand how cultural context matters in writing, especially during a global crisis, and how lockdown impacts writing processes. Both Nepali and American writers described similar feelings and fears about the pandemic, but the way they wrote about these feelings were individualized, frequently relying on their cultures as a means of expression. Though many writers noted an increased difficulty writing during the pandemic, they were still producing and thinking about writing, with many utilizing writing as a tool for catharsis and self-analysis. These results demonstrate how the COVID-19 pandemic, and specifically lockdown, influenced creative writers around the world.

Kallin Hermann, University of Notre Dame
COVID Knowledge, Perceptions and Access to Care in Mexico

Undoubtedly the coronavirus pandemic is one of the leading health crises in today’s world. Mexico ranks third in the world in coronavirus deaths. The Mexican government has severely underreported the number of COVID cases while President Lopez Obrador has dismissed the importance of social distancing and mask usage. My research seeks to evaluate the perceptions and knowledge that Mexican citizens have about the pandemic given the sentiment of their political leadership while also addressing access to COVID testing and quality of medical care. I wrote and distributed a questionnaire to 320 Mexican citizens by collaborating with NetQuest, a survey distribution company. The survey consisted of four sections: demographics, knowledge and perceptions, personal experience and access, and true or false. Responses were analyzed using SPSS to evaluate descriptive frequencies and differences based on gender, income, education level and region. Only 25 out of 320 participants correctly identified all of the symptoms of COVID, suggesting there may not be adequate education about the virus and how it presents. 60.3% of participants personally know someone who has died of COVID, while 12.5% have been tested for the virus. There was a significant difference in likelihood to go to a doctor after receiving a positive COVID test across incomes. Barriers to seeking care and testing include price, lack of insurance, and distrust in hospitals and doctors. This research highlights the variable experiences of people throughout Mexico during the pandemic and the barriers that must be addressed to ensure equitable health care access.

Jaran Max Rudd, Austin College
How Covid-19 has Deepened the Environmental Crisis Among the Kichwa: A Discourse Analysis

The current health and healthcare crisis has devastated the world and requires that communities change their cultural sense of normalcy to adapt and survive. This presentation considers how the cascade effect of Covid-19 on top of the environmental crisis caused by development projects is affecting the Kichwa Indigenous community of the Amazon in Ecuador. Through an exploration of the discourses of, and corresponding practices that emanate from, neoliberal development and that of the political-economic philosophy of the Kichwa, the Sumak Kawsay (the good living), I will uncover the limitations of development projects in making the lives of this Indigenous group better and unravel the socio-cultural significance of the agency and collective resistance with which the Kichwa embody in order to survive and protect their way of life. Utilizing a motley assortment of virtual, semi-structured interviews through WhatsApp video and audio calls and through that of email questionnaires, I’ve kept in contact with two Kichwa members of the Pastaza region to learn about their situation, thoughts, and actions. This presentation gives detail to the investigation of various local Kichwa projects that they’ve started to recuperate ethnobotanical nutritional resources lost due to oil spills.