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College Students On Lockdown Share Their New Normal


What does life look like for a college student today? There are no lecture halls, no labs, no dorms. For many, this year is anything but what they expected. New England Public Radio's Karen Brown teaches journalism at UMass Amherst. She turned her students into reporters on their own lives. They recorded scenes from where they ended up in lockdown, from Texas to Spain.


LYLA HYMAN: I'm sitting on the ground with my mom, and she's cutting my dog's hair. He looks very unamused, kind of sad.


UNIDENTIFIED PARENT #1: How does he look?

HYMAN: He looks good.

UNIDENTIFIED PARENT #1: (Laughter). See his eyes.

HYMAN: We can see his eyes.


WILL MALLAS: I'm here in my kitchen, following my mom, who's baking brownies.


EMILI VAN VOLKINBURG: You want to describe what you're doing?

UNIDENTIFIED PARENT #2: I'm chopping onions. I'm making fish chowder.

KATHERINE SCOTT: This is my brother. I think he's playing Grand Theft Auto. What are you? (Laughter).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: It's NBA, you dimmie (ph).

SCOTT: (Laughter).

ETHAN SMITH: So now my brother and I, who share a room, are going to restack our beds because my mom hates when both of us are here because it's so cluttered.

RAUL AMENEIRO RODRIGUEZ: The streets are almost empty. There's only a few cars - really strange to come back to my town and watch it like this.

SCOTT: I found my mother sitting in her room, scrolling through Facebook like a screenager. Now we've turned on CNN. And we're waiting for Trump's press conference. Mom, are you excited?

UNIDENTIFIED PARENT #3: Oh, yippee. Can't wait.

SCOTT: (Laughter).


MEG JOHNSON: So I am here at my family game night.


JOHNSON: We are playing Yahtzee.

JULIAN MENDOZA: I'm on my way to the basketball court. It's been my sanctuary. I'm about to take the other side of this half-court, stay as far as I can away from this person.

MATT HOLOWITZ: I'm trying to get out as much as possible, you know, take some solo walks. You can hear the birds chirping. Saw a couple of cardinals and a couple of blue jays earlier today. So when I was commuting to UMass for the semester, mentally, I could shift my focus to, all right, I'm in school mode. But now my desk at home is, like, all of 5 feet from my bed. And it can be hard to mentally differentiate between those two zones.

MELISSA NIEVES-TORRES: You can only go through your books so many times. So sometimes, I just like to play a little music.


RAAYA ALIM: I'm trying to do homework because I'm behind on a lot of homework. My sister is just staring at me and dancing and nodding her head and being super weird. She's about to play piano. And I think she's learning a new Cage the Elephant song. Can you play it?


RODRIGUEZ: I don't know if it could be heard. But it's 8 p.m. Every day at 8 p.m., people go out to windows.


RODRIGUEZ: And they start clapping to all the workers, to all the doctors who are - all the people that is working to keep us alive (laughter). So it's a beautiful time every day.


ALIM: Beautiful.


ALIM: (Laughter). You're welcome.


MARTIN: Those were the voices of UMass Amherst students bringing us a view of their lives in lockdown. We heard from Lyla Hyman, Will Mallas, Emili Van Volkinburg, Katherine Scott, Ethan Smith, Raul Ameneiro Rodriguez, Meg Johnson, Julian Mendoza, Matt Holowitz, Melissa Nieves-Torres and Raaya Alim. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Karen is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter since for New England Public Radio since 1998. Her pieces have won a number of national awards, including the National Edward R. Murrow Award, Public Radio News Directors, Inc. (PRNDI) Award, and the Erikson Prize for Mental Health Reporting for her body of work on mental illness.
Karen Brown

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