Sharmila Rattansingh

secretary

At the time of the COVID-19 outbreak I was in India for a month of yoga tutoring. Suddenly, everything was closed down. We were only allowed to go outside and buy something between 7:00 and 10:00. Being alone in a tiny room with no contacts – what students are currently experiencing – is how it felt for me in Delhi too. When I was back in the Netherlands, I immediately drove past my office to pick up some things. It looked like a warzone, as if people had dropped everything and left in a rush.

Then I read about students suffering from depression, and that really affected me.

I very much enjoy my work as secretary in the DC Systems, Energy Conversion & Storage-group. I was used to seeing our masters and graduate students each day, making small talk from their doorways. Suddenly, all contact had ceased. I immediately called my colleagues to come up with a game plan. Until the second lockdown in December, I made rosters allowing the students to work in the office in turns. Then I read about students suffering from depression, and that really affected me. Now, I organise online coffee breaks. These are not about work but about how they’re doing. They are so happy to see each other and to share their experiences. I will continue to work from home at times. As a secretary, that used to not be possible and recently it has been unavoidable. I start my days with a morning walk through the meadows near Vlaardingen, and I’ll keep giving online yoga classes, which colleagues attend as well. And a barbeque party, as soon as it is allowed. Togetherness – one human to another – that’s my thing.

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