Hey everyone! If you are reading this, I hope you’re staying positive and testing negative during these times.
I’m Urvi Agarwal, a fifteen year old from India. I probably have the messiest personality ever but I would sum myself up as a realist, a listener and a creator.
March 2020 was a real stimulus for revolution. From staying out all day to being confined within the four walls of our houses, times changed; to say the least. It was daunting- an atmosphere of utter chaos and pandemonium. Uncertainty and doubt clouded everyone’s minds and no one knew what to believe.
To be very honest, the entire time made me more anxious than ever. I am a person who gains energy by talking to people. I can’t stay in one place for too long and the past eight months have been the exact opposite of what I’m used to.
That is when I started Curious Case of COVID on the advice of my teachers at school ( massive shoutout to Mrs. Biswas and Ms. Majumdar- Thank you so much for having my back); for this event would ‘go down in History’. It was never part of plan, as much as I’d like to say that it was ‘the fruit of a spiritual reckoning’, the entire process unfolded really unexpectedly.
I knew I wanted to create or start something, however, being a person of versatile interests, I could not bring myself to decide what I wanted to advocate. Curious Case of COVID, was my tiny, little attempt to curb misinformation within my community and maybe be a part of something much larger than myself.
Mainstream media today has become an orchestrator of propaganda and sensationalism. It is my strong belief that it spreads information that often excites masses or triggers their religious, social and political sentiments. To be perfectly candid, I feel that it creates a mountain out of a molehill about something very clearly insignificant; while completely blindsiding real problems that people need to be informed about. In India, where I’m from, we observed that media focused on almost everything except COVID-19: from the movie industry to very public political scandals. When we did focus on the pandemic at hand, speeches and interviews were unrealistic and frankly, had no statistical base. We had economic breakdowns, exacerbated social gaps and growing inequity; yet, no one spoke about it. It made me so angry to the point where I knew I had to raise my voice.
We started by conducting a survey which very unexpectedly went global and received hundreds of responses from people all across the world- from Malaysia to New York. The main purpose for this was to understand the existing perspective of people on the pandemonium and how we could start impacting it. We clearly noticed the fact that people were not ready to accept that they had to stay in for a considerable amount of time. Most expected things to blow over by June; without realizing that the coronavirus is here to stay, at least for a little while.
I started an amateur blog with a friend. In all truth, it was only viewed by our friends and family but it was a start. Our attempt was feeble, we never so it going anywhere.
Still, being one of the people who has a million ideas running through their head and need to do them as soon as they came, by ambitions for Curious Case of COVID grew (and continue to!)
I never intended to expand our organization internationally but when I found that I was actually changing opinions and perspectives by informing people around me about what exactly happens around us, it was a much needed reassurance that my voice matters. Going international would imply much more knowledge about the pandemic and the issues surrounding it in general and the process of gaining ground was very slow. While most organizations blew up in a few months, we took around half a year to come to where we are today. It required patience, which was something that I only grew to perceive as a virtue in the past few weeks. The long wait brought in thoughts of self-deprecation. I wanted to be the best at whatever I was doing and mentally, could not take the fact that we were in a virtual (pun intended) pit.
For so long I tried to classify Curious Case of COVID. People work towards environmental causes, gender equity, education for all and poverty alleviation; and they’re all admirable and pertinent subjects. All of these organizations are doing such amazing work and inspire me every single day.
However, my lingering thought would always be: “What are we working toward?” There was no ‘category’ we could put the organization under. I filled out forms but one thing I struggled with was putting our organization under a category or classification like the aforementioned. It ate away at me and the question just lingered in my mind.
I feel that phase in my life was something that so many people can relate to. The constant fear of not doing well enough and comparing yourself to everyone and everything around you. If you are going through something like that, it is completely valid. Never belittle yourself for being in touch with your emotions. Our minds can cage us in sometimes and it’s alright because we can always break those bars. Everyone has their own journeys, their own goals and their own morals. It is okay if things seem dark right now because trust me, one day you’ll understand. Try not to get too lost in there though. You’re important and the world needs you; even though you don’t realise it yet. Your voice, your opinions and your decisions are important. You are so much more important than you could ever fathom.
Only a few weeks ago I escaped this hole of constant self deprecation myself, and realized that I do not need to confine myself or my initiative under a category to bring my message across.
Now, after around 7 months of experience, I can proudly say that Curious Case of COVID is an international, youth-led, nonprofit organization that spreads awareness about the COVID-19 pandemic whilst raising interest about various social, economic and political subjects. We are an organization like no other, one that takes part in all kinds of issues but maintains a neutral perspective whilst reviewing them. We work towards decoding, analyzing misinformation and spreading accurate information in the most unbiased manner possible.
The journey has been challenging, and according to my completely one-sided perspective, it has hand more obstacles than levelled land. However, I wouldn’t be here without this organization. Meeting new people everyday, listening to my team members’ ideas and reading their articles; the experience is something I would not exchange for all the lost hours of sleep.
Now that I look back, it’s almost as if we pressed fast forward on the past eight months but in the moment everything went in slow motion. Even though that sounds cheesy and cliché, it’s true. This time has given us so much to think about and reflect on and I cannot help but feel that despite all the downsides, it’s been an enriching experience. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and it’s up to us change-makers to bring the world as close to it as possible. Behind every activist you know of; be it Greta Thunberg or Malala Yousafzai, there are hundreds of organizations working towards some form of change.
We all want to leave our mark on the world we live in and even though the past couple of months have confined us to our houses, they’ve brought us closer as a global community than ever before.
Talk about it, about whatever you want to. No one else is going to voice your opinions for you. That’s all on you!
Urvi Agarwal, a Change-Maker :’)