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Alert COVID-19 Update

Harvard University and Harvard Law School shifted to remote teaching and learning, as of Monday, March 23. For more information and the latest updates, please visit the HLS coronavirus information page.

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I’ve never spilled coffee before. Well, I did it first day we went remote. My seemingly important printouts got stained and my coffee cup was now half-full.

I thought, “at least there is still coffee in it!”

So, I started taking the glass is half-full approach to this new paradigm in which we found ourselves and it is this focus that I’ll take in order to share my experience here.

Aside from missing my colleagues, the Hi Rise coffee, the Hark omelet and the friendly Restaurant Associates staff, etc., I found some really good value in the working from home model and a great potential in it overall. And I am an extravert and love working with people and being around people!

Instead of my morning commute, I try (well, I don’t always succeed) to make a power walk in the neighborhood (and the same attempt instead of an evening commute).

I enjoy connecting with my dear colleagues with a click of a mouse and truly appreciate the suggestions on what to read (it feels empowering to be in the know on various publications, whether or not I will actually get to reading them).

I tried taking advantage of Harvard recreation fitness program on zoom, but that only worked for “drop-ins” (now, with password enabled zoom sessions and pre-registration, this sounds like a commitment, which is a bit less viable). But what I did discover is that “Zoomba” is actually spelled with a “u” (Zumba)!

Professional, industry-related conferences-webinars are now available with a click of a mouse and is a huge benefit: I can drop-in for a few minutes and then access the recording at a later point.

On the home front, the old bread maker is my new best friend: 7 min. to put the ingredients, push-of-a-button and voila!

I’ve discovered many wonderful channels, like San Diego Zoo, Safari, museums, classical concerts – all the great content for the children (thanks to the colleagues and friends for all the great suggestions!!). I would not have been able to introduce my children to the vastness of these resources on a regular day.

Hey, there might be a dormant artist in me somewhere (I’ve bookmarked virtual art course I want to try – why not?!)

My daughter’s birthday was, of course, unusual: this year she could invite virtually anybody. And, since the deliveries are slow these days, the gifts will be arriving all month long!

I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all the generosity with which various organizations made their content and products available for free during these turbulent times. It was eye watering to read about so many great stories across the country and the world. When a math teacher came to teach a struggling student from the students porch , or when the restaurants made sure to have the free food available to the health care providers in the area – there is no other motivation, but the inner sense of helpfulness and desire to make a difference from where people find themselves able to. It reminded me of the importance to continue my commitments to the long-time supported charities.

As fast as I can “visit” San Diego Zoo or a professional conference, as long it now takes to unpack the groceries, going through iterations of disinfecting. Wiping Clorox wipes with Clorox wipes seems unusual, but [new] normal.

It seems that the expression of a “new normal” is getting old and previously hectic being is settling down. I don’t need to look at the calendar anymore to find keep myself on track with the days of the week. I am so very grateful to be part of this incredible HLS community and, if any moments of uncertainty, I feel empowered and supported and ready to support others.

We don’t know what tomorrow will look like, but what is apparent to me, is that human-beings are helpful, resourceful, resilient and creative. And I have high hopes for reaching a new, post-corona-virus paradigm full of new potential, new opportunities and new beginnings.

Oops, looks like I’m about to spill my coffee again! I better submit the story before I break my computer! Thank you for reading.

Anastasia Tolu
Teaching Learning and Curriculum


How are you making work from home work for you? Your advice and anecdotes may help someone out of a difficult situation, brighten their day, or just make them feel less alone in all of this. Share your stories and help us to bring everyone together.