Address by Prof. Indro Dasgupta, Adjunct Faculty, Department of Economics, Southern Methodist University Dallas, Texas, USA

Dear Student


The only certainty in life is that there will be uncertainty. This is not a cliché. You know this to be true. The outcome of your favorite sporting event, the weather tomorrow, your first job: there is uncertainty all around you in life. But boy, this time uncertainty in the form of this COVID-19 virus has really hit us in the face. Boom! Pow! The world has come to a stop, and you have been thrust into this strange mix of online classes and being stuck at home. Pretty un-nerving and disturbing, honestly. Add to this the daily global news of disease and deaths. Sad, despondent, depressed, lonely, scared, concerned, worried. If you are feeling any or all of these emotions in the pits of your stomach, you are not alone. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is feeling it. Yes, adults too, although they hide it pretty well.


I tell you, embrace the uncertainty. How? First, make a mental or physical list of what is in your control right now, and what is not. You cannot hang out with your friends at your favorite restaurant or go to the movies now. But you can control how you spend every day during this time of social distancing. Ignore the things not in your control and focus on what is in your control. Second, know that this is a once-in-many-generations event happening. I promise you, you will be sharing with at least a couple of generations to follow, how you passed the days of the virus and they will listen in rapt attention. Movies will be made out of this, and who knows, the world will change in ways that we cannot yet perceive. This knowledge transforms the current situation from a scary one into an interesting phenomenon to observe and record.


So how should you spend your days? I recommend a healthy mix of productive effort and fun. Get into a daily routine. If you are taking online classes, be regular with the schedule and assignments. Admit it, rolling out of bed in your pyjamas to attend classes on your laptop, virtual classes on video with your friends, and snacking on chips and salsa while working on Biology or Economics, can be kind of cool. Treat weekends as such: sleep in and chill. We have been given some extra time to catch up. Catch up on some of the subjects and assignments you had been putting off, or simply could not get to. Maybe some exams got postponed. Great! Time to prepare a bit more and improve your grades. Most importantly, have some fun every day. Record that musical masterpiece in your head, or start writing that epic novel you have in you. Use some new social media tools to launch that next viral post. Be creative.


In our typical day to day lives, we are constantly running around and hardly spend time with each other. Those of you attending University or Colleges away from home, miss out on a lot of family time. Ironically, social distancing has reduced the distance between you and your family. You are together in a physical and emotional space now. Enjoy this, cherish this. I promise you this time will not come back. Hang out with Mom and Dad to make some epic dishes for dinner. Or, form an acapella choir with your siblings. Whatever you do, spend some of your time bridging the distances that the 21st century lifestyle has created. Just as the virus has thrust us into the middle of a global crisis, it has also given us a priceless gift: time. Enjoy this gift and know that you are not alone.

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