I would like to start by apologising for not keeping my weekly blogpost. Both of my parents got infected by COVID-19 with one of them needing hospitalisation due to complications (they are both doing well now, dealing with the usual consequences, and I am back in Armenia completing my quarantine).
Having discussed this with my family, I requested permission from the Chair of our Board to travel to my hometown, Málaga, to support my parents. I am very thankful that permission was granted quickly and, thanks to the fantastic team here, I had an emergency PCR and a safe-conduct from the Spanish Embassy in Moscow (a public thank you to all of them) ready in one day. So after being on campus since early August, I had to quickly pack a bag. Having flown a lot while I lived in Singapore and during my first year in Armenia, this had been the longest period without travel for me, and many things impressed me and made me reflect on the pervasive consequences of COVID-19.
I am an aviation lover (my parents used to take me as a young boy to see planes take-off and land) who envies birds for their ability to fly unaided. Although I have not done so in a long time, I used to engage with flight simulators and even run the Flight Simulator Club in my previous school. Yes, I am the kind of person who knows what airplane model is flying above by looking at it and who can bore you with such details.
I come from the Costa del Sol, an area in southern Spain that is heavily dependent on tourism, as is Barcelona, which was my last connecting airport. In both of them, I had the eerie feeling of walking in an empty ghost town, a scenario fitting a sci-fi movie with a dash of suspense. Aviation has been decimated by the pandemic, flying this time meant mostly empty airports, multiple controls, and lots of airplanes parked in storage, some even with their engines unmounted, a clear sign that they would not be flying anytime soon.
This is just one of the many consequences of the pandemic, that is making us re-evaluate our lives at all levels. Things that we took for granted suddenly were not possible, and things that would have taken years (if they were to happen at all, such as educational institutions all over the world going into full e-learning) happened -in some cases- overnight.
It is understandable that we are all coming to terms with all of these changes, mourning some of the things we have lost and adapting to new ways of doing things (leaving home check: Wallet, keys, mobile phone… and mask!) From the personal level to the community level up to the societal and global, the tiny coronavirus has transformed all of our lives. Researchers are exploring -in real time- the impact in all areas of our lives, from education to psychology to the economy and the way in which we behave as consumers.
Being back on campus, and from the vantage point of my isolation during my quarantine, I cannot help but reflect on what the mid- and long-term consequences of the pandemic are and will be. One thing is certain: we live in VUCA times, where we cannot rely just on how-things-were-done-here and the rules of the game may change at any point, often without warning.
Ups! Looking at my calendar, I realise that something else is certain: It is time now to join a virtual meeting!