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Connections in the Time of Coronavirus

Global stories of caring and compassion.

We are asking the Cornell community to share inspiring stories during these challenging times. Share a brief story (up to 200 words) describing an event, moment, act or relationship that touched you, demonstrating the power of human connection, even in this time of social distancing. Submit using our form.

Stories will be preserved as part of the University Archives.

Teacher standing in classroom reading to students who are seated aat round tables Returned Fulbrighter Finds Power in Connection
Dustin Liu, alumnus
Malaysia to home
"In this very moment, I feel an incredible connection to humanity as we navigate this global challenge together," says recent Cornell Fulbrighter, Dustin Liu. Along with a cohort of 100 other Fulbrighters in Malaysia, Liu returned home to the States earlier than expected as a result of the public health crisis. In his time in quarantine at home, he has missed the community he built in Malaysia, but he maintains hope for the future. "These feelings are underscored by memories of gratitude... READ MORE »

Mother and two sons holding hand-made signs about CMC Ithaca Medical Teams Head to New York City
Sarah Magnus-Sharpe
Tomkins County to New York City
"There was an emotional send-off this morning of medical teams leaving Cayuga Medical Center in two Cornell Campus to Campus buses headed to New York City to aid in the fight against COVID-19. There were hundreds of cars and people lining Route 96 from the hospital headed to Ithaca, and I imagine many more along the route. Sage Peake was on the route with her boys holding heartfelt posters. Sage, said in an email, 'Emotional indeed! I did my best to hold back tears, wishing my friends and... READ MORE »

Hand holding a smartphone over a paper form Law School Clinical Programs Offer Legal Aid During Crisis
Cornell Law School
Central New York
From dining room tables and childhood bedrooms, Cornell Law School faculty, students, and staff are responding to the coronavirus pandemic by offering legal services to businesses and individuals in central New York. The assistance runs the gamut, from helping businesses and workers in the region access new benefits to supporting families in immigration detention centers at risk for the virus and working with low-income residents remotely to finalize their wills. This effort to address the... READ MORE »

Man in red shirt opening the hatch on a distilling equipment Cornell Aids Distillers in Making Hand Sanitizer
Cornell AgriTech
New York State
In the battle to keep front-line health care workers, first responders, and essential employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 40 craft distilleries in New York state have stopped producing their signature spirits. Instead, distillers have turned to making a much-needed commodity: hand sanitizer. "For distilleries, it's a fascinating landscape right now," said Chris Gerling, senior extension associate in food science at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York. Gerling is helping... READ MORE »

Reconnecting with Old Pals
Anne K. Armstrong, Ph.D candidate
New York
"In 2007, I had the pleasure of working with four wonderful women at a residential environmental education center in the Catskills [region of New York state]. We lived and worked together for nine months, and we've kept in touch on and off since then through Facebook messenger and chat. But lately, we had fallen mostly out of contact. Until COVID-19 rocked everyone's worlds. Now, we text multiple times a day, sharing our anxieties, memes, successes, and photos of our lives. It has buoyed my... READ MORE »

White toilet paper roll The Little Things
Alumni, B.S. '17
Brooklyn, New York
"I work in a pediatric practice, and as you can imagine, my days are slammed. I was at the end of a long day when a parent asked me how I was doing. Not well, I hadn't slept due to long hours the night before and coming in early this morning, but I smiled and said, 'I'm surviving, it's a little rough getting used to life without toilet paper though.' We laughed and I continued on with my day. After the child had been seen by the doctor, the parent stopped me again. 'I have some TP in my car,... READ MORE »

screenshot of a moderated online discussion with two woman moderating and i8nformation about the Compassionate Leadership Circle in the center. CCB Alumni Donate Daily Group Coaching
Laurel Donnellan, Shamis Pitts, and Kelly Dwyer, alumni
From New York across the U.S.
The principals at the Compassionate Leaders Circle, led by Laurel Donnellan (SHA '82), Shamis Pitts (JGSM '11), Kelly Dwyer (JGSM '11), thought that in this time of uncertainty it was important to offer support in the best way they know how to help. The company launched a free, daily group coaching program to the world called Pivot with Compassion. Shamis shared, “Compassion is at the core of our work, so we felt compelled to take immediate action and make our content available through April... READ MORE »

Student in front of computer screen holding a pencil. Cornell Tech Provides CS Lessons for Kids at Home
Diane Levitt,
Bronx, New York
“This is our first-ever CS at Home broadcast,” Diane Levitt, senior director of K-12 education at Cornell Tech, told a class of third graders from Public School 86 in the Bronx on March 26 via Zoom. “Thank you for being part of our experiment. We have never done this before. So, it’s good to do it with friends.” Levitt, with other members of her K-12 team, were piloting a new virtual lesson plan intended to help New York City teachers instruct their students remotely in computational... READ MORE »

Purple gloves being worn while owning on an art project The Art of Generosity
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
Tompkins County
Those of us in the museum community use gloves every day to handle works of art and even reuse to practice delicate object marking, as you can see in the picture. Last week at the Johnson, we were able to donate about 2,000 new nitrile gloves to Cayuga Medical Center here in Ithaca, and we thank them for their incredible work and sacrifices for Tompkins County. ■

Stacks of boxes with labels that have a bear wearing scrubs. Families of Recent Alumnus Donate Protective Gear to Weill Cornell
Tian and Jiao Families
New Jersey to New York City
The extended family of a recent Cornell graduate in New Jersey, Lena Jiao ’19, donated 3,000 N95 masks and 300 sets of protective coveralls to Weill Cornell Medicine. “When we saw front-line health care workers risking their lives for us on a daily basis without proper or limited protective equipment, providing them with these necessities was really the least that we could do,” Jiao said. “From my 92-year-old grandpa to my 17-year-old brother, my entire family has been helping every day these... READ MORE »

Man in wearing shirt with Cornell seal on the sleeve eking towards hospital Faculty Help Hospitalized Patients Stay Connected
Kim Overby and Malte Ziewitz, faculty
Tompkins County
For hospitalized patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, staying connected to their loved ones has been difficult, if not impossible. To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, visitation has been severely restricted, leaving patients often feeling alone and frightened and families unable to see and support them. In response, two Cornell professors have organized a project to bring computer tablets to the bedside of each patient at Cayuga Medical Center. These will also be used to enhance... READ MORE »

COVID-19 Support in 10 Languages
Lucy Lee, student
During the hiatus from classes, Lucy Lee ’20 and a team of bilingual and multilingual students remotely provided translations in 10 languages for the website user guide of D.C.-based support company DisasterTech to make the content accessible for people who are homebound due to COVID-19. The students normally translate in person for local community agencies through the Translator Interpreter Program, a student-run Cornell Public Service Center program. Now they’re... READ MORE »

blue and teal friendship bracelet Gifts for My Quarantine Family
Alison Qiu, prospective student
Away from home in China
"I am a prospective student and my school is closed due to Coronavirus. Since both of my parents are in China, they can’t fly here to take care of me. Luckily, David, a family friend, has allowed me to stay with him and his family, and he treats me just like he treats his own daughter. Because of him, I don’t feel sad and lonely during this quarantine. I feel grateful to him, so I’m making a key chain with his name on it! It’s supposed to be a secret gift!" ■

computer screen showing a slide about How to Model an Epidemic Faculty Share Expertise with Cornellians
Wendy Wolford and Cornell faculty
More than 4,000 registrants from 54 countries, 48 states, Guam, and Washington, D.C., joined “COVID-19: Origin, Response Management, and Impact on the Global Economy,” a virtual panel and discussion of Cornell experts from the College of Veterinary Medicine, S.C. Johnson College of Business, and the Master of Public Health Program. In addition to getting their questions answered, participants used the chat function of the panel to check in on their friends. Wendy Wolford, vice provost of... READ MORE »

Hotelies Give Back
"Each year, students in Cornell's School of Hotel Administration host a Hotelies Give Back Week. Despite having to leave campus during this pandemic, they are still dedicated to keeping the tradition of service alive. They were inspired by the work of the Food Bank of the Southern Tier and wanted to support them by starting a fundraiser. Here is the link if you want to add your support." ■

Study Abroad Students Get Help in Readjusting
Alexa Levin, student
Sydney, Australia to the U.S.
“Another Cornell student and I were studying abroad in Sydney earlier this semester. Since we are finishing our Australian classes from the U.S., our professor holds a separate Zoom session for her and me every week. The rest of the class is still in Australia, so our professor gives Nikki and me a ‘private lesson’ every week so that we don't have to ‘attend’ class at midnight!” ■

grid of faces on a group call from a computer screen Spain Alumni Come Together for a Virtual Meet and Greet
Maria del Carmen Garcia, B.Eng ‘85
In response to Cornell’s recent measures to promote the health and safety of its community, Maria del Carmen Garcia invited her fellow Cornell alumni in Spain for a virtual meet and greet. Garcia commended Cornell’s move to online instruction and its digitalization of non-essential events and wanted to do something to demonstrate her support from across the Atlantic. “Let’s do our bit to support this virtual effort. In these times of uncertainty, requiring that we uphold our Cornell... READ MORE »

Student shown from neck down, wearing a jean jacket and backpack, carrying books Students Can't Stay Away from School
Wayne Gottlieb, middle school teacher
Ithaca, New York
"I teach seventh-grade science at a middle school in Ithaca. When it was announced that school would close (March 13), I assumed that instruction would end. However, the administration decided that we should try remote instruction, but give no grades. Ha, I thought, we'll get about 10 kids taking part. Wrong! I've been holding Zoom sessions daily for my students and have hosted between 30 to 45 kids each time (out of my 87 students). Sometimes the conversation tends toward the absurd, but we... READ MORE »

Man standing in a chapel with stained glass windows, holding a book Lessons for Surviving Crises, from the Wisest Among Us
Karl Pillemer, faculty
The COVID-19 pandemic has us asking difficult questions: How will we survive this? What are we willing to sacrifice? What comes next? In a moment that feels unprecedented, we can learn from the hard-won wisdom of a generation that weathered the most devastating events of the 20th century. Professor Karl Pillemer’s book (2012) 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans, started with the premise that older people have invaluable knowledge on how to live well through... READ MORE »

Closeup view of protective visor on a 3D printer Cross-campus Effort Rushes 3D-printed Gear to Weill Cornell
Cornell campus to Weill Medical
Last week, concerned about a lack of protective gear for medical workers, Amy Kuceyeski, associate professor of mathematics at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Department of Radiology, thought about all the 3D printers on the Ithaca campus, sitting idle with students gone and nonessential research on pause. “On Twitter I’d heard about how people are 3D printing face masks, so I decided to blast email all of the engineering department chairs to see if anybody knew of anybody who had printers or... READ MORE »