Created by: Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
When this blog is published, it is day 44 since the Los Angeles County released their shelter in the correct order. The sky has never been so clear and traffic on the infamous 405 freeway is almost nonexistent. The air is sweet, yes, I never expected to use the word “sweet” in connection with the air quality in Los Angeles. The city seems calm, and like the rest of the world, our planet takes a deep breath as we protect ourselves on the spot.
March 19ththAs soon as the mayor of our city announced the shelter, I instructed my team at ACEI headquarters to pack the bare essentials since we would be working from home. We were not surprised or surprised by this news. A month before the blocking order, our COO had ordered laptops for our entire internal team to prepare and anticipate exactly this scenario. The next day we were all online and in communication with our international applicants and institutional clients. Applications for evaluation were processed via our online portal and academic documents were received digitally from institutions and recognized platforms. I visit the office twice a week with another member of our team, being careful to keep our socially recommended 6 foot distance, which is easy in our spacious loft work area.
The ACEI team is working harder than ever and answers inquiries from our applicants from all over the world via our online chat, emails and by phone. We hold daily video chats as the end of the day. We try to keep the humor in our uncertain world by playing around with the background images of our video chat platform. Our COO prefers a lush landscape of rolling hills, while the rest of our crew, including myself, seem to be interested in space-inspired motifs, which is something new to me as I’m not a SciFi fan. But it seems that images of futuristic cities and galaxies in the distance correspond to the current surreal state of our world.
Once the world and we were collectively locked, we knew that we would experience all levels of emotions, from fear to panic, fear, anger, frustration, euphoria, exhaustion, malaise, serenity, denial to panic and insecurity. We immediately decided to host a free weekly webcast called “Mindful minutes with ACEI. ”We have set up these webcasts as a safe virtual place for our employees, colleagues, friends and family members to share their stories, how they deal with it and what they feel. We invited guest speakers to provide insights and techniques that we could practice in our daily lives to return to a place of inner peace, no matter how fleeting.
My first week at home, which I had not done in my one-bedroom apartment since I founded ACEI in 1994, was challenging because I had difficulty positioning myself in a place that I used to be my home office could call. Finally, I joined my husband, who also worked from home, and shared the dining table as much as his and her office. We were very aware of our invisible borders and had no border skirmishes. However, it is strange how life can make a 360 and I find myself in a situation similar to the day I started ACEI. I work from home, although I now have a team of loyal and committed employees, for whom I am responsible and who ask for guidance, moral support and hope.
I keep my daily routine. As before, I wake up early, shower, get dressed, meditate, have breakfast and enter my “office”, which used to be the dining room, and start the “working day”. In the afternoon, I take long walks after leaving my “office” and take a 20-minute nap. The daily naps were a stroke of luck.
I’ve already mentioned this, and it needs to be said again that exhaustion seems to be the common denominator among everyone I speak to and those who participate in our webcasts and comments that I see on social media . We are urged to reflect on ourselves, and one thing that becomes clear is that the insecurity we feel today has always been with us unless we now have the time to truly understand its full meaning. Let us call it an existential crisis that it is. We all experience an existential crisis and we experience it together and at different intervals and levels. We look for answers and look intensely into the future to make predictions, if not guesses, about what to expect when we emerge from our expanded locks. A friend compared this to the cocoon from which a butterfly will finally emerge.
I also hear from many who have a hard time not maximizing their quarantine time by being more productive, like cleaning the garage, their closets, painting and renovating houses (something my husband bless his heart for volunteered every weekend to do it themselves), learn a language or a musical instrument or start a new part-time job. I was recently reminded of a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs by a friend’s comment on Facebook worth reviewing, especially now during a global pandemic. As we know, people have basic needs that emerge at the bottom of the Maslow pyramid. These are food, water, shelter, sleep, etc. When these needs are met, the next level of the pyramid is security. If we feel safe and secure in our current environment, we can climb the pyramid and accept love and a sense of belonging that will take us to the next level of the pyramid, namely self-actualization.
In the midst of a pandemic, we cannot expect to climb the pyramid and realize ourselves if we mainly live in the basement of the Maslow pyramid. People are still looking for toilet paper for heaven’s sake! At this moment we need to take a deep breath and know that every day we are here counts. Every breath we take counts. Do we eat, do we drink water, do we sleep for a few hours? These are great triumphs. One exercise that my husband and I practice at the end of the day is that we ask each other, “So where do you win today?” I always start with waking up and feeling healthy. I think that’s a big win. We have to relax and be especially gentle and very gracious to ourselves. We’ll get through this somehow. And at the moment it is absolutely fine to get through.
Jasmin Saidi-Kühnert is the founder, president, and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI).
The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI) was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, California, USA. ACEI is a full service company offering comprehensive and integrated internal services in the fields of international educational research, certificate assessment and translation. ACEIs Global Consulting Group®offers interested institutions and organizations around the world expertise in the following areas: media and branding, global paths, and diversity, justice and integration (DEI). www.acei-global.org
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