Natalie Leung

Staff Writer

Like many people, I’m lucky to see my extended family in person a mere once or twice a year. Prior to the pandemic, with school and work schedules packed 24/7, I only had time to visit family over the holidays. Until then, I would go without speaking to much of my family for the majority of the year — with the exception of occasional brief birthday calls.

Then came the Covid-19 lockdown, when travel restrictions were strictly enforced and millions of people were forced into quarantine, confined to their own homes interacting with the same people day in and day out. Human interaction became scarce, and a desire for connection and communication with loved ones emerged. Quarantine caused staying in touch with friends and family to become a priority. Maybe it was the fear that one of them could be the next victim of coronavirus or just the newfound appreciation for the relationships we as a society often take for granted. Nonetheless, it was simply a wake-up call for many, a reminder to check in with those we care about. 

This certainly rang true for my family. During the early weeks of the pandemic, biweekly family zoom calls — one for my mom’s side of the family and another for my dad’s— were scheduled and attendance was mandatory. With everyone at home tasked with virtually nothing to fill our days, schedules lined up in a way that was nearly impossible before the pandemic. It was an opportunity to connect with people we could rarely find time to talk to before. 

At the start, these Zoom calls were a way to pass time, as well as a chance to catch up with extended family members I would otherwise see two or three times a year. But months into the lockdown, Zoom became the host to a weekly family practice. Through a screen, we were able to visit each other virtually, seeing a window into each family’s chaotic life at home. These nights were often unpredictable. Every border of participant boxes lit up, picking up miscellaneous sounds of uncontrollable laughter, barking dogs, meowing cats, and screaming children in the background. 

Although I often considered them far too chaotic and unfamiliar at the time, I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything. Through these zoom calls, I’ve developed closer relationships with my family as we have leaned on one another to get through this pandemic. How I see it is as the silver lining of Covid — being given extra time to spend quality time with family. It has undoubtedly become an important part of my weekly routine that I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. 

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