So much has changed since I last wrote a letter, so full of hope for the new decade. Many of you are far from KAIST, far from your friends, and in a situation far from what you were expecting. This global crisis has put a stop to many of the regular fixtures of life. But, as you can see, the Herald is still publishing.
We are still here, because we must be, precisely because it has become so much more difficult. The spread of information has become ever more important in the face of the spread of disease. And the connection of people, even as they “socially distance” themselves, is key to overcoming the crisis. This pandemic has been accompanied by outbreaks of racism, misinformation, and hysteria. Such is human nature. But our potential for compassion, bravery, and solidarity is also boundless. It is the duty of those with a platform for expression to remind us of our capabilities. Because, the fact is, panic does not have to equal paranoia, scared does not have to equal selfish, and, with modern technology, distanced is not isolated.
This month’s paper is, inevitably, full of commentary on the effects of coronavirus. While you can find explanations of KAIST’s prevention measures in News, we have considered the South Korean response in International (page 7), and discussed global implications in the central Feature section (pages 8-9). Culture division provides some respite, with suggestions for how to pass your quarantine period (pages 14-15); meanwhile, Society presses deeper into the issues we are facing. Internationally, xenophobia and racism against Asian people has been given a scapegoat excuse, but so has religious intolerance within communities closer to home. Prejudice has long been present within our society, but now, the peak of these attitudes must be denounced. The virus doesn’t discriminate, but society does, and the inequalities currently being emphasized must be addressed. This crisis provides additional impetus to create improvements for the many, not the few. The lockdowns of several countries and the shutdown of non-essential services in many communities have compromised what little support was being received by those in need. We must implement better infrastructure and welfare systems that can remain strong in the face of future crises. The only way to achieve these things is together, not apart, and that includes every single one of us.
Whether or not the Herald’s presence is of any consolation, I hope that these pages can serve to inform and entertain you, perhaps providing a shred of normalcy to an otherwise very abnormal semester. Because, I realize, that is what they represent to me. Producing this paper makes me feel at home. Though we have been conducting our meetings online, forgoing our regular events, and adjusting our writing process, The KAIST Herald is still very much alive and kicking. Perhaps now more than ever, we are asking for, and depend upon, your engagement with our publication. When you have read our thoughts, send us your own. Share and comment and write and respond. We will always be here to listen.