Student Project Tells 'Quarantine Stories' on Campus
After the COVID-19 outbreak and AUBG's move to online classes, many students chose to return home. But for some that wasn't an option - the Skaptopara dorms would remain their home for the next few months. Students Oraz Kereibayev and Yenlik O'Neill took it upon themselves to show how life continues during a pandemic.
On Quarantine Stories, an Instagram account the two started, Kereibayev and O'Neill use videos and photos to tell the stories of people dealing with online classes, social isolation and last-minute trips home.
When Kereibayev, a student from Kazakhstan, did his first video, he wanted it fast and low-key - because of the rapidly developing situation, the content could quickly lose relevance. Then he did a second one and together with O'Neill decided to publish the project on Instagram. He would continue making videos and O'Neill would take pictures to add to the narrative.
As virtually everyone is affected by the situation, it wasn't hard to find people on campus to talk to about it. "I would mostly work with people who I know, at least to some extent, so it would be easier for me to interfere in their lives and ask questions which might be somehow emotional sometimes," Kereibayev said over Zoom.
The videos show students coping with various aspects of the situation - adjusting to online classes, lamenting the postponed commencement, trying to get home. And then there's the one showing "moments of joy," a reminder that there's still fun to be had.
Each of O'Neill's photos tells a story but together they form an even bigger narrative. They show students checking out as they prepare to return home, something O'Neill, a sophomore from Kazakhstan, would soon do herself. This expanded the project beyond life in the Skaptopara halls.
"We decided to keep working on the project remotely and try to find the topics that would be universal, in a way, so people from Blago and other places could relate to the photos," she said in a message.
As long as the COVID-19 situation continues, the two have no plans to stop with Quarantine Stories. "We will keep working on the topics that seem interesting, seem salient to us right now," Kereibayev said. "It might last for one more week, it might last for months until June, July, maybe even longer, who knows."
It is important that the project keeps going because unlike so many other things these days, life hasn't stopped. Kereibayev wants to show everyone at home that "life on campus is not over" and "that AUBG is still AUBG."
"I guess the more we work on it, the more I understand that AUBG is not about the place itself, it’s not about the buildings," he said. "It’s about people."
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Fifth day of the quarantine. Seniors are packing the luggage and saying the last word to the university two months earlier than they were supposed to. All the events, including the commencement, are cancelled or postponed. Learn the story of Nathan Bernacki from the US and Svetlozar Apostolov and how they are handling the situation. March 13, 2020. Video by @orazkereybaev Special thanks go to @aubg_edu @lgotsiridze @bernicknack @chernoholik #quarantine #stories #coronavirus #virus #covid #digital #photo #video #journalism #aubg
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After the announcement of the quarantine, most students of the American University in Bulgaria managed to reach home before borders of other cities and countries got closed. Unfortunately, students from Ukraine had only three days to leave Bulgaria before the Ukrainian side would stop its flights. Some students managed to leave by the last plane, while others had to wait for help from the Ukrainian Embassy in Bulgaria. March 14-March 20, 2020. Video by @orazkereybaev #quarantine #stories #coronavirus #virus #covid #covid-19 #digital #photo #video #journalism #aubg #travelling #ukraine #borders #bulgaria