Discover what is on this week in the Boma Global Studio
Mar 23, 2020

Boma COVID-19 Summit

Session 4: China — Resilience Amid the First Outbreak

Resilience Amid the First Outbreak

People taking action together

  • Reducing stress: an online meditation
    Jason Xu, mindfulness meditation coach, Beijing, China

  • Treating the mental side effects of the pandemic
    Yilan, co-founder Neureality, a mental health media platform Beijing, China

  • Raising money is easy, spending money is hard
    Anna Chen, 9th grade student, 15 years old, Shanghai, China

  • Mask stickers: fighting discrimination through humor
    Moss X Team, Chinese students at Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands

  • Engineering education at a distance
    Anand Padmanabhan, Global Chief Information & Technology Officer, Whittle School & Studios, Washington, DC, USA
    Dr. Richard Kuder, Lower and Middle School Division Head, Whittle School & Studios Shenzhen Campus, New York, USA

  • Studying in isolation
    Viola Ni, High school student, 17 years old, Shanghai, China

Moderator: Ellen Cheng, founder of Boma China

Live from: Beijing, China
Start time: 10:00 a.m. UTC

Watch the free livestream here. Have a question for our speakers? Post it on Facebook. We’ll be answering questions live. Want to participate in a public discussion? Use #BomaCovid19 to engage and follow along.



Ellen Cheng opens the China session of the COVID-19 Summit with deep thanks and gratitude to the doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals in China and around the world fighting the pandemic.



Meditation expert Jason Xu begins by sharing a new poem, Lockdown by Brother Richard Hendrick, about life during the current coronavirus outbreak.



The entire COVID-19 Summit participates in a group meditation led by Jason Xu. Together we focused on a message for ourselves, for our neighbors, and our healthcare workers: May you be safe. May you be healthy. May you feel loved and appreciated.



Ellen Cheng introduces Moss X, a group of design students studying at Delft University of Technology, in Delft, Netherlands. These three creative women designed mask stickers to combat the discrimination they faced for wearing face masks.



Faced with discriminatory reactions to wearing masks in public, Moss X began their design process by surveying Europeans (about their perceptions of people wearing face masks) and Asians (about why they wear masks). 62%/59% Asian/Non-Asians were unaware of the differences in cultural perceptions of wearing masks.


Moss X designed these fun and informative stickers for their face masks to improve communication, and begin cross-cultural conversations about wearing face masks.


Moss X ends their session with this message: "Speak out. Respect others value. And be open: open your eyes and open your ears."


Next, Ellen introduces Sherry Wang, a recently graduated psychology student, who joins us to share her fan group's actions during the COVID-19 outbreak. Fan groups are dedicated communities built around pop idols. These communities can be active, effective fundraisers for different causes.



As part of her work with a BTS fan group called 'Army', Sherry called over 100 hospitals in Wuhan to find out what they needed and match it to what the group was able to gather. She describes the hospitals' reaction like this: "The joy was so real. Even better than sitting under Christmas trees on December 25th." Money was useless to Wuhan hospitals: they needed supplies. So the group found out what was needed, raised the money to buy supplies, and then shipped those directly to the hospitals.


Fangroups are often looked down on, but Sherry reminds us that idols are inspiring fans to be better people. During this crisis fan groups have raised money for 1 million face masks, 800,000 gowns, and 600,000 pairs of goggles.



Next we are joined by Anna Chen, a high school student from Shanghai, who will talk about raising money with her school club. Anna and her fellow students began by raising money - and ended up with a surprising problem: they raised much more money than they thought they would and had trouble finding ways to spend it and people who would work with high school students.


After many false starts, Anna and her peers were able to make a deal with a European company to buy the face masks, but the biggest challenge was getting the masks from Shanghai to Wuhan. They were eventually able to do this. Anna reminds us that: "Coronavirus is not the burden of one, but of all."



Ellen Cheng returns to introduce Yi lan, co-founder Neureality, a mental health media platform based in Beijing, China. She will be talking about science communication and aid for the disadvantaged.



With the COVID-19 outbreak came unique challenges for different communities. For instance, the deaf community needed specific communications to understand what was going - so a group of volunteers came together to make PSAs in sign language for that community. Another group in need of help are those with bipolar disorder - who may run out of their medications while stuck at home, unable to visit hospitals. Volunteers spread the word on how to buy medications online from their local hospitals and created a platform for people to share their stories.


As Yi lan finishes her talk, her takeaways are: "Have faith in science and science communication. Digital healthcare is rising and drives efficiency. The disadvantage deserve their tailored solutions."



We are joined by Dr. Richard Kuder, Lower and Middle School Division Head, and Anand Padmanabhan, Global Chief Information & Technology Officer, both of Whittle School & Studios, who will speak about piloting online learning during the COVID-19 outbreak. The first question the Whittles School focused on while designing their new online curriculum was: "How will your online presence reflect our core values as an institution?"


Dr. Kuder focused on communication in this new model - between staff, between students, and between parents and educators - and on leadership. He wanted to empower teachers to make decisions and move quickly to implement solutions.


Anand Padmanabhan describes the ramp up of their new model of education: In the first week, they focused on making sure that everyone had the basics - and could access their school online. In the second week, the schools tried brief synchronous sessions with the students. Mr. Padmanabhan says: "The kids were so happy to see their peers onscreen." Finally, in the third week, they ramped up to full school days and sent out a survey to get feedback from students, parents, and teachers. From there, they were able to refine their process - ending up with a model that included both asynchronous and synchronous work.


Looking forward, the school is considering how to integrate new technologies - such as augmented and virtual reality and AI into their curriculum. As an example, they are using 360* photos of Ellis Island when teaching about early immigration to the USA.



Ellen Cheng introduces Viola Ni, a student studying in Shanghai - who has been studying alone for the last eleven weeks, and our last speaker. She's a junior in an international school. Her first reaction to finding out that school was cancelled was celebratory - and then came the struggle of working alone. Her challenges began with communication to teachers being restricted to email: a relatively formal and slow way to ask questions and get feedback. Communicating with her fellow classmates is difficult too since many are in other countries and faraway.


Viola recommends students be open-minded and communicate with their teachers frequently. For teachers, she asks that they become familiar with new technologies and be flexible about using them.



We begin a final Q & A:

For rural places, how do you envision the future of online education?

Dr. Kuder: It's a huge challenge. Internet equity is an issue around the world - in urban areas as well as rural ones. In some cases it may not be an online solution. We were able to send out textbooks to our staff - but it's not ideal.

Mr. Padmanabhan: Smart phones have become prolific. Leveraging content with a low bandwidth will be crucial. So in rural areas, we need to think about how we push the information through with cell phones. There are many organizations around the world working to provide $10 and $1 laptops. It's possible and it will happen.

A question for Anna, if were to start over with the money you raised again, how would you use it?

Ms. Anna Chen: I would want to spend less focus on masks. There are a wide variety of masks - and it's difficult to choose the right one. All the hospitals have different requirements. We would have spent more time and money on gowns and disinfectant.Secondly, we would want to support more businesses and communities - aside from the hospitals. Since less focus was given to them. I would target specific worker groups: like delivery services, and hotel staffers. We could shift our focus on making sure they had supplies they needed.



The Session closes.


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