Mar 20

Using Music During Times of Crisis to Build Community

Prior to writing this blog entry, I wanted to do my best to figure out what other research had been completed around crisis and building a sense of community either before, during or after the aforementioned crisis. Fortunately, I was able to find a recent article published by Rose Stone about the Ebola pandemic in Western Africa that took place primarily during 2014 thru 2016 (specifically in Liberia). In Western Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) documented 800 health-care workers that contracted Ebola – more than 500 of them perished. This extremely high death rate is what separates Ebola from the common flu, SARS, and other respiratory illnesses. 

What I had found with the research that Stone completed as an ethnomusicologist allowed me to compare and contrast the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic as it has swept across the globe. Before March 17th or so, there were few cases in the United States, however, various cities and countries across the globe were on lockdown. “Lyrics of warning songs included key points of information developed by international public-health groups” (Stone, 2017) could not hold more true today. The government of Vietnam released an animated video on COVID-19 and various preventative steps to take in order to not contract the virus. As of writing, it has nearly 28 Million views on YouTube alone. Another parallel that I noticed recently was people singing various pieces of John Lenon’s Imagine to form a unified video. These viral videos bring people of all communities together to better “realize that Ebola [COVID] was not a government plot, and not a sign of witchcraft, but a real disease, which could easily wipe out entire areas of the country” (Stone, 2017) by having a celebrity or prominent member of the community discussing the virus.

A pastor at a church in Liberia was unable to hand the communion wafer to attendees but rather had to use a tweezer to ensure he would not potentially contaminate the wafer with his own hand. The pastor even stated, “sound could transcend the space between separated people and draw congregations close” (Stone, 2017). We’re seeing this today in Italy and other countries where people in quarantine/lockdown are playing instruments on patios with neighbors singing the words to popular songs. As Stone states, songs weren’t just for citizens to bond with one another, but even “normal and common way [for nurses/doctors] to prepare for fighting the Ebola battle daily.”

There is a certain sense of community knowing that everyone is going thru the same thing as each other (or should be practicing physical distancing). The religious songs that were repurposed in Western Africa, jingles created by celebrities, and other music-making played an integral part in allowing citizens to express community solidarity. As we move forward with COVID-19, it is important to think about what we can do to create jingles or have shared musical experiences to still have a sense of community – whether local or global with everyone.

Meni nga golong, e pilang wule mai, e kula lii soli su.
What I know about song, it came from sorrow.

A nee i wolo, i meni kelee ke,
Even if you cry, you do everything,

Fe no, i pele ke.
You must perform.

Nalong aa ke pele-kei.
The man is performing.

Nii suu aa laygi.
The inside of his heart has cooled.

Ilii a soli, ifa see tong ngono.
If your heart hurts, you can’t sit quietly again.

Kele, bifoo ba see tong, fe no i wule too.
But before you sit quietly, you must sing.


References – 

MIN OFFICIAL. (2020, February 23). Ghen Cô Vy| NIOEH x K.HƯNG x MIN x ERIK | WASHING HAND SONG | CORONA SONG. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtulL3oArQw

Ries, J. (2020, March 18). Here’s How COVID-19 Compares to Past Outbreaks. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-deadly-is-the-coronavirus-compared-to-past-outbreaks#20022004-severe-acute-respiratory-syndrome-(SARS)

Stone, R. (2017). “Ebola in Town”: Creating Musical Connections in Liberian Communities during the 2014 Crisis in West Africa. 63(3), 78–97.

Mar 20

Divided color

The moment people discover the distinction that someone is usually different from me is usually when they perceive the division into ‘we’ and ‘them’ and this creates stereotypes about ‘them’. Even though they are all different and varied, if they find an easy sign between others that suggest they are all the same (such as skin color, religion, national origin, and economic status) they don’t care about the individual differences and just think of the unit as ‘them’.

The gaze of ‘them’ that does not belong to ‘us’ is often hostile and unfairly biased. This is because the fact that the onlooker or onlooking group belongs to ‘we’ makes them feel safer and gives them a sense of belonging and superiority.

Nowadays, as I receive news about racism caused by coronavirus, I ponder what to do and what to do to keep from being prejudice. It is time to check and evaluate for yourself whether the majority of thoughts are right and whether there are any prejudices unconsciously accepted without your knowledge.

In order to be an uncritical accepter of a given thought without our thoughts, I continue to ask and check whether my thoughts are right or wrong. The basics of human rights start with equality. As human beings, we must not forget that the dignity of human beings applies equally to everyone. It is a necessary attitude to recognize that the rights of others are as important as my rights and are equally precious.

‘A class divided Prejudice primarily viewed people’s lives as limiting their lives, narrowing their horizons and shrinking the world. Discrimination also distorts the lives of others, sometimes millions’.

Peters, W. (1987). A class divided: then and now. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Mar 20



Read this RIGHT NOW. Or are you waiting till later?

“I get everything done at the exact moment I say I’m going to do it”. Said no one ever. Who are we kidding? Many of us have procrastinated in something within our lives. The textbook defines procrastination as “delaying the completion of a task or intended course of action” (Gruman, Schneider, Coutts, 2016). Have you ever caught yourself or someone you know saying: “Ehh, I’ll just do it tomorrow”? I’m right there with you. I know for a fact that I’ve been guilty of this countless times. For example, I might wake up one day and tell myself that I’m going to clean the house or my room that day. After a long day of work or a long day of doing schoolwork, I’ve found myself so exhausted that I tell myself that I’ll clean tomorrow and that it’s not a big deal.

With the school environment, there are studies that have shown that there is a big section of students in college that tend to procrastinate on their school work (Gruman, Schneider, Coutts, 2016). In my first year of college, before I started working more and had lesser responsibilities, I can recall myself procrastinating a lot. Back in middle/high school, I was a huge procrastinator. The textbook says that that there are some students that prefer to work under pressure because they feel like they produce even better academic work when they pull an all-nighter (Gruman, Schneider, Coutts, 2016). Another reason that is described is that there are students that have a fear of failing and have concern over the impact that the failing would have on their self-concept in school (Gruman, Schneider, Coutts, 2016). The individual might feel like they’re incapable of completing the assignments or studying for an exam and through this, it could all bring their self-esteem down (Gruman, Schneider, Coutts, 2016). There were many times that I ended up pulling all-nighters back in middle school and high school. After reading the textbook, I look back on my grade school days when I pulled those all-nighters and honestly even in present day when I’ve procrastinated or pulled an all-nighter and these reasonings that researchers have given make sense.

I have always had a fear of failure and that’s exactly why I’d stay up all night or procrastinate. I’ve had the mentality often where I don’t think I’m intelligent enough to accomplish an assignment/project or that I won’t pass an exam because I’m not capable of retaining information in my brain and I’ll probably fail anyway. This mindset has made me push off doing things in an attempt to avoid that feeling of failure. From what I’ve learned through my studying in psychology, I’ve learned about exposure therapy and how I should slowly expose myself to my fears in order to hopefully one day overcome them, rather than avoid what scares me for the rest of my life. It obviously won’t change in an instant or overnight, but the little steps you take are so very important. I think I’ve come a long way from my middle/high school days in term of school work but there’s a lot more work to do (no pun intended). However, progress is key.

Another reasoning for procrastination has been described by researchers as being an issue of motivation (Gruman, Schneider, Coutts, 2016). Trying to find the motivation can be tough as well. I know for me, with the other aspects of depression and anxiety that I face every day, finding motivation can sometimes seem like the biggest task in the world. With this, and that fear of failure, some days it can be so difficult to convince the mind to engage into things. Studies have shown that students that are motivated, have the ability to focus their attention on the tasks/goals at hand, and organize themselves and their time and effort so that they finish what they need to get done (Gruman, Schneider, Coutts, 2016). It’s even harder when you don’t want to procrastinate, and you have the desire to so badly to do everything beforehand instead of the last minute, but those things that I mentioned above, hinder you from doing so.

In present day though, as mentioned before, exposing myself to that fear of failure very slowly is showing me a little bit that my idea of being “incapable” or “not smart enough” is my brain playing tricks on me. Some days I believe it 100% but now there are some days where I feel like I am capable instead and I’d call that progress. Exposing yourself to that fear (or any), can help to rewire your brain into thinking that you are capable. Besides, if I’ve ever learned anything, it was from one of my favorite Disney movies, Meet the Robinson’s, where the main message is to “KEEP MOVING FORWARD”, no matter how many times you think you’re failing. I hope that I get to a place one day where no anxiety, no depression, no lack of motivation, etc. will stop me from completing my tasks without hinderance/procrastination. Sharing this “fault” of procrastination that I see in myself is hard but necessary. What about you? Do you have situations/experiences of procrastinations that you’ve had in your own life? If so, why do you think you procrastinate? Is it different now than it was back in grade school?


Works Cited:



Mar 20

Self-Handicapping, Depression, and Covid-19



Covid-19 has changed nearly every aspect of life as we knew it. Turmoil and chaos are becoming the norm. Grocery stores are empty, schools are closed, hospitals are overwhelmed, and the deaths continue to pile up. With all of this going on around us, how could we possibly be expected to continue on with classes as normal? At what point does the mental health of students, professors, and personnel prevail over profits? Am I self-handicapping by thinking the expectations placed upon us are absurd considering the unprecedented situation we find ourself in? Am I depressed because of my feelings of helplessness because I know there is nothing I can do? It’s almost ironic – learning psychological terms and theories – anxiety and depression, and then being diagnosed with them because while everything is falling apart around me, I’m expected to continue performing academically as if nothing has changed. Scratch that – it’s not ironic. It’s disgusting.

“According to the social psychological concept of self-handicapping , people act in ways that may undermine their subsequent performances, thereby having anticipatory excuses for potential failures.” (Gruman, P.563) What if the anticipation is logical? What if the anticipation is statistically probable? “Zuckerman, Kieffer, and Knee (1998) found that among college students, higher self-handicapping scores were directly correlated with lower GPAs, less time spent on academic work, and less efficient exam preparation.” (Gruman, P.563) My cumulative GPA isn’t the best at a 3.42, but I did get my associates degree with a 4.0 and the President’s honor roll distinction. So far this semester my lowest averaged grade out of the 3 classes I’m taking is a 97. So again, am I self-handicapping? Am I making excuses because I’m anticipating failure or is failure unavoidable? How does it make sense that while I’m figuring out how to homeschool my two children, while I’m worried about my father that has congestive heart failure and refuses to self-distance, while my husband’s job and my families livelihood is as novel as this virus that there still isn’t a standardized treatment, cure, or vaccine for, and while my life and the lives of everyone else in this country and around the world are being turned upside down, that we are expected to continue on with blog posts and exams like there aren’t mass graves accumulating in Iran (Cunningham) or refrigerated trucks and makeshift morgues full of dead bodies in NY. (Annese)

Does my pessimistic outlook mean I’m depressed? According to the doctor I spoke to from 98point6, it does. The specific diagnosis is – Adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood. Are the academic expectations the sole reason for the diagnosis that I received yesterday? – Definitely not… but to think that they aren’t compounding the issue is preposterous. “The 1978 human model was called the attributional reformulation of the learned helplessness theory of depression . The attributional model proposed that people are depressed because of the attributions they make for why unfortunate things happen. According to the model, people who are prone to depression make pessimistic attributions that cause them to believe that there is nothing they can ever say or do to change their unfortunate circumstances. Technically, such a state of mind is called a negative outcome expectancy (discussed earlier) or simply helplessness. According to the 1978 model developed by Seligman and his colleagues, helpless thoughts about the future prompt symptoms of depression.(Gruman, P.152) I think it’s pretty clear that I feel helpless and that  my mental health is suffering (and let’s be fair if I didn’t feel helpless and I actually believed I could change anything or thought I come up with a cure for Covid-19, I would be delusional) – I’m not naive enough to think that my academic performance isn’t going to be affected but I also don’t have the luxury of taking the time I need for my mental health, because – student loans and I need the grades to raise my GPA for grad school. I also know that I can’t be the only person struggling to adapt. I know that the solutions given to us by administrators – when we’ve worked so hard all semester to maintain and excel aren’t sufficient. Penn State University has failed me, failed my fellow students, my professors, and the personnel. So again, why am I writing this blog post and why are you reading it as if nothing has changed and it’s business as usual?



Annese, J. (2020, March 26). NYC builds massive makeshift morgue near Bellevue Hospital. Retrieved March 26, 2020, from https://www.nydailynews.com/coronavirus/ny-coronavirus-city-puts-up-makeshift-morgue-outside-bellevue-hospital-20200325-raora6bqxncp5gx3qfoagyxida-story.html

Cunningham, E., & Bennet, D. (2020, March 12). Coronavirus burial pits in Iran so vast that they’re visible from space. Retrieved March 26, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/iran-coronavirus-outbreak-graves/

Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (Eds.). (2016). Applied social psychology : Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com


Mar 20


Oftentimes people believe that adults become prejudice when they are older and it develops as they mature and form their own opinions on life. However prejudice is a learned behavior that begins in childhood.

When a child is younger they absorb whatever material they can see, hear or touch. During the bobo doll experiment it was proven that a child will mimic an adult’s behavior to be aggressive towards the doll after watching the adult hit it. The child did not understand the behavior, did not understand the aggression or that the behavior was not a positive one. The child simply watched and followed. This is how a child learns and understands the world around him starting at a young age.

Adults do not just turn prejudice one day, the conditioned behavior begins when they are children by the influences of the adults around them. Prejudices are usually based off fears and misconceptions others have that are inaccurate and not immediately corrected. Children absorb the assumptions and prejudice’s around them by observing the adults they are in contact with daily.

One way to reduce the amount of prejudice we see in society today is to begin targeting prejudice and begin education at a younger age. The education system should begin focusing more on educating students on how to recognize, react, and reduce the prejudice they have learned and unconsciously continue to enforce in their daily lives. There is an old saying that goes, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”; one translation of this means, it is hard to change a thought or belief that someone has had for a long time. If the education system can intervene while the students are younger, the system can correct harmful, inaccurate thoughts and educate on truth, equality and honesty.

It is important to frame children’s thoughts and beliefs while they are young and impressionable to be more positive, welcoming, and fair rather than attempt to correct a thought that an adult has had for many years.


Oswalt Morelli, A. (n.d.). Prejudice. Retrieved March 26, 2020, from https://www.gracepointwellness.org/1262-child-development-parenting-middle-8-11/article/38395-prejudice

Mar 20

Is it news, or are we all playing telephone?


Do you remember as a child playing the game “Telephone”?  Where you share a message and have to pass it on to your friend and they pass it on to their friend and keep it going?  By the end of the last person, the message is all mixed up from the original context?

In this day and age, communication gets more easily misconstrued.  With so much of communication and the media being today’s preferred choice in how things are relayed via technology.

The newer generation (Generation Z) seems to have been brought up with Ipads and cellphones and has a more difficult time understanding social cues and confusion can more easily arise.  It is the day and age of emojis and text messages and DM’s on social media.  The facial messages are left out, and up to the receiver to decide how they perceive the message or the call or the email they received.  (Forbes)


The newer generation prefers digital and electronic modes of communication via technology.  (Forbes)  Older generations prefer the face-to-face connections.

There are advantages to both forms, and more advancements utilizing media and the new technology available to us all now, but misunderstanding can definitely take place a bit more easily like in the old childhood days of playing telephone.


Vego, Julian.  Forbes.  “Generation Z and New Technology’s Effect on Culture.”  August 31, 2019.  www.forbes.com/julianvigo/2019/08/31/generation-z-and-new-technologys-effect-on-culture/#4007b1445c2a.  Accessed March 26, 2019.



Mar 20

Prejudice comes out in most of us if circumstances present themselves

I did an experiment back when I was in high school.  Especially since I was part of the “in” or popular crowd.  I lived in a small town, and community that was comprised of mostly whites, only one black family, and Hispanic families.

Prejudice is everywhere

I being Russian, Hungarian, and Turkish and religious-wise, I was christened as a Russian Orthodox Christian, I was very curious how my peers, friends and all of the teachers would react if I came to school dressed in the traditional Russian dress from the Old traditional Russian Orthodox churches.  We had some students, who were my friends dress like that and they were accepted to a degree, but were also mocked.  So I personally wanted to see if my own friends, and the “in” crowd would treat me differently if I changed what they were accustomed to and not used to.

I had a few custom made dresses from my cousins, as I usually received some for the Easter holiday, which is almost always a different day, usually a week later, but sometimes longer in the Russian Orthodox faith as it goes by Passover and old calendar.

I didn’t tell anyone, and wore a dress one day.  None of my friends seen me like that except for those who were also Russian.  My friends knew, but have never seen me in the traditional dress.  The looks and body language told me a lot.  Now, some of my good friends were cool with it, even though they thought it was brave of me to do that knowing that there were plenty who would not receive me the same.

Some of my teachers were different in there actions.  I decided to do this for an entire week.  That is when I really saw the changes in how I was treated and viewed.  I even sat at the table where the few who dressed in that traditional dress sat at.

It really surprised me at how many were different in there reactions, facial, body language, how they acted, even my teachers.  More experiments should be done in classrooms to show how easy it is to sway how one views a person, or a thing, and not knowingly become prejudice or begin discriminating against a person for something different or surprising or unknown to them.

With the technologies today, more of these types of interventions can be implemented and then discussed like that experiment of Mrs. Elliott and her 3rd grade classroom on the Blue and Brown eyes.  (Frontline) For my experiment, this was eye-opening to me and the people were cool people I never thought would waiver and they did.

You would be surprised that any of us may have prejudices that can change on circumstance that is presented just as in “A Class Divided” has shown.  (Frontline), and with my own experiment I shared here.  If we try to do more interventions by implementing similar types of experiments, then more people would really FEEL what transpires and become more mindful of actions and reactions and thinking in the future and better implement fair practices.


Frontline. (1985). A Class Divided. Retrieved online at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided/



Mar 20


While a majority of us, including myself, regularly take online courses are accustomed, many other students are not used to this lifestyle. Online school is a lifestyle. It is harder and challenging, in my opinion. Many of us have no option other than taking online college courses due to different reasons. While I m stationed on the other side of the globe, many others prefer to do it from the commodity of their homes or simply because they like the flexibility that online school offers. Right now, the world is facing a pandemic, the Covid-19.

The Covid-19 situation ruined my wonderful trip to some amazing countries and the chance to see my oldest sister, whom I have not seen in more than a year. Not only has the situation worsened his past two weeks, but it has made some changes to the world, including the U.S educational system. With schools closing due to the pandemic, students are forced to shift onto distance learning.

Governments all around the world have closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the global pandemic. Many parents and students are facing hard times because many are not used to this lifestyle, but somehow have to adapt to pass their classes. Meanwhile, many low-income family students rely on school food, and being out of school makes it a challenge. Besides, many parents are facing difficulty in staying home and watch their children because some jobs, including the military, require us to work even longer hours now. With schools and after school/daycare centers closed, I am forced to bring my son to work every day, exposing him to the virus.

Nonetheless, in times like these, we realize how important and vital education is. Scientists are working hard on finding a cure to the virus. Doctors and the rest of the medical field are saving lives and protecting those who are most vulnerable. Teachers are working hard from home or school to keep our children educated.


Azad, A. (2020, March 13). The coronavirus pandemic is closing schools. How will kids eat? Retrieved March 26, 2020, from https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/11/health/coronavirus-school-closing-lunches-kids-eat/index.html
Carroll, A. E. (2020, March 17). Is Closing the Schools a Good Idea? Retrieved March 26, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/upshot/coronavirus-school-closings.html

Mar 20

School Performance and Emotions

Children’s performance in school has a lot of different aspects to it. It’s not just simply how intelligent they are, how well they test, how much they study, et cetera. These things are definitely relevant, but we are ignoring something that is pretty important. I think a lot of school performance comes from how children feel and their emotional support. Children are learning how to control and handle emotions at a time when they expected to perform well in school.

When we talk about emotions in children regarding school, a big topic that we talk about is test anxiety (Gumora & Arsenio 2002). That makes a lot of sense, because it’s a highly studied topic, that shows highly anxious kids suffer from test anxiety and subsequently may not do very well on tests (Gumora & Arsenio 2002). However, there is a lot less research on how emotions and social factors affect school performance (Gumora & Arsenio 2002).

Gumora and Arsenio (2002) studied 103 middle school students and surveyed them on their mood, emotions and academic performance. They hypothesized that children who reported negative emotions would have poorer academic performance, which was proven to be accurate (Gumora & Arsenio 2002). This study showed there is a correlation between a student’s emotions and their academic performance (Gumora & Arsenio 2002). Since it’s correlational, there isn’t a definitive cause and effect. However, this link shows there is a need for further research into the topic.

It makes sense that children’s negative feelings could be related to poor academic performance. Children are working through big emotions that they have no idea how to process. At the same time, they’re expected to perform well in school. I think this shows that we should try to find ways to help children feel better, so they can do better in school. 

Gumora, G. & Arsenio, W. (2002). Emotionality, Emotion Regulation, and School Performance in Middle School Children. Journal of School Psychology. 40(5). 395-413. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-4405(02)00108-5


Mar 20

Discrimination in the Workplace

Racial and gender discrimination used to be a much bigger problem than it is today. While we still see discrimination today, there are laws that protect people from being discriminated against in the workplace. These laws are put in place so people feel comfortable in their work environment and so that there is no discrimination when hiring, firing, and with promotions. This is great that most people have this law protecting them, but what if there is no discrimination law that protects you from this?

Recently it was brought to my attention that there is no law that protects weight discrimination. In fact, there is only one state that has a law for weight discrimination, Michigan (Morabito, 2020). According to the video there are a number of stereotypes towards people who are overweight, these include that they are lazy, lack discipline, or less intelligent (Morabito, 2020). This discrimination against weight is much more serious than I ever knew. The video mentions that when an overweight person is hired they are payed much less than other people, a study showed that overweight males were payed 3.4% lower and overweight females were paid 6.1% lower than their colleagues (Morabito, 2020). This is a problem that needs to be addressed, so why is there no law that protects this discrimination?

According to the video there is a lot of support to pass a law that prohibits employers from discriminating against weight; from studies they have conducted, roughly 80% of people support this (Morabito, 2020). Even though there seems to be a lot of support there is still no law for weight discrimination. Why is that? In the video they mention that there are concerns about passing the law. These concerns are that lawsuits will start because of the past experiences (Morabito, 2020). To me this just sounds like an excuse, they can easily address this concern. One example I can think of is writing the law that states that there will be no legal action taking place before May 1st 2020.

While there is no law in place experts recommend that employers should take action and try to prevent this discrimination anyway (Morabito, 2020). This is a good idea, but I would like to see in the future a law that protects people from this type of discrimination in the workplace. I think that judging anyone based on the way they look is ridiculous, especially in the workplace. If someone is qualified to work a certain position and they are reliable, then they should be hired.



Morabito, C. (2020, January 24). Studies show weight discrimination permeates the US workplace – but it’s legal in 49 states. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/24/why-weight-discrimination-permeates-the-us-workplace.html


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