Coping with COVID – A Cultural View

Two people from different cultures are having a socially distanced conversation outdoors. Photo by Gustavo Fring, published on Pexels

By: Danielle Haller // Contributing Writer

Take a break from the doom and gloom and get a bird’s eye view of how cultures around the globe are bringing in positivity and coping with COVID in 2021.

Culture is a way of coping with the world by defining it in detail.” – Malcolm Bradbury

The power of cultural influence plays a noteworthy role in shaping the way people measure and cope with trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a journal from Frontiers in Psychology, peer reviewed research on cultural orientations during the pandemic concludes that responses vary between countries that value individualism, such as America, Australia and the UK, compared to responses from countries of a collectivistic culture, such as Japan and China. 

Where individualistic cultures may focus their analyses on job insecurity, remote work, changing careers, and problem solving, collectivistic cultures may push beyond work and dive into social constructs with a holistic effort of readjusting or transforming the bad into good.

Let’s look at how much COVID-19 has affected the lives of people.


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The Pew Research Center has listed survey results from June 23, 2021, which express a portion of the global effect of COVID-19 on the daily lives of people from 17 countries. How have some of the cultures that have been subjected to disparities turned their hoping into coping?

Two Positive Ways That People Cope

Humans are resilient and artists can bring a connection and understanding toward healing and social cohesion, ultimately leading to community resilience, better health, and survival.

A report from World Economic Forum shows a psychologist’s point of view on how people cope with COVID. From that report, these were the two most positive responses: 

“Proactive external expressions: Finding solace in nature, charity, taking time to read books or learn another language, engaging more in activities at home like gardening, playing games, baking, and cooking, or finding one’s creative hobbies.

Proactive internal expressions: Changing moral values in response to crisis, being more present, contributing to global changes, and develop a sense of meaningfulness.”

How Global Cultures Cope 

1. Seoul, Korea

With serendipitous coffee shop vibes, the South Koreans have been uploading ASMR-style videos of how to DIY their social coffee staple, dalgona, from home. They started a global trend, #dalgonacoffeechallenge getting people across the globe united in trying their cultural treat! In addition to coffee, they have a belief that kindness through handwritten thank you letters to essential workers would bring positivity back into their community. 

2. Croatia

The Ministry of Culture launched a public call to support professional artists and entrepreneurs who pay contributions for pension and health insurance as well as a one-time fund for those who were members of artistic associations, keeping the culture of art and performance alive for the sake of entertainment! 

3. Oaxaca, Mexico

The Zapotec Village of Oaxaca chooses to work together from a youthful age to make great jobs less overpowering and lesser jobs go swiftly. They persevere through their traditional culture of cooperation, self-reliance, and isolation by spending time in their gardens ramping up the growth of their own food supply, sharing scarce resources with one another, and the practice of working together and gift-giving. A more common harvest now are “Chapulines” – fire roasted grasshoppers, making an alternative choice to meats for protein. 

4. Singruali in Madhya Pradesh

Teacher-students at Singruali’s Baidhan have been determined that no child should go without education and learning so they have created a Library on Wheels. They make daily trips on their scooters to reach students and volunteers who read to the students bringing words to life during times when socialization is limited.

5. Paris, France

Keeping the bakeries open and the wine on delivery has been one way the French have kept their joie de vivre spirit, deeming local boulangeries a necessity for feeding the people. From fond memories as a child to the only interaction one gets during quarantine, the local boulangère (baker) plays a vital role in the lives of the French.

6. Australia

Aussies are finding themselves gearing up for camping in their backyards or living rooms while enjoying virtual scenery via the livestreams posted by local zoos in Queensland. 

7. The Disabled Community

Those who are disabled are at a place of vulnerability and utmost disadvantage in the world today as they have less access to their own life-saving medical care due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of letting it derail their dreams, those with known and hidden disabilities are taking this time to stand up for reducing inequalities through community-based advocacy, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and publishing books to help those learn how to be allies of the disabled, like the newly launched Demystifying Disability by author Emily Ladau.

8. FIU Student Culture

FIU is composed of a diverse populace of students that bring a collective of cultures from all walks of life. With most historic monuments, museums, and cultural institutions as a source of entertainment now closed, where are students to turn? To each other, of course! 

FIU Researchers, Provost and Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab, and the Humanities Research Grant have come together with a project called, “Greetings Covidians” to encourage students to share their variable perspectives of reality into a digital space, with the intention of spreading positivity while stimulating a sense of self-care within the community. 

Additionally, FIU has a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion division that has been paramount to supporting diversity and reflecting the cultural climate within the academic community during the COVID-19 pandemic. This gives students, staff, and faculty the opportunity to learn from one another and to embrace the diversity of each other’s cultures. 

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