Coping with the New Normal: Students Find Their Voices During Quarantine

Posted on: June 29, 2020 Posted by: Voleak Phan Comments: 0

Coping with the New Normal: Students Find Their Voices During Quarantine

**Last Updated: September 6, 2020, see end of article. 

In just a few months, COVID-19 has dramatically changed our lives and the way we interact with each other. Many of us are staying home, and our daily routines have changed. Yet, people are coming together in ways we have not seen before to teach students, find creative ways to stay in touch, and provide food and medical equipment to those in need. While the COVID-19 pandemic is global and infects people of all identities and backgrounds, it does not affect everyone in the same way.

Different Ships, Same Storm is a photography and writing program that invites young people from all across the world to share their voices through visual storytelling, writing, and story exchanges about their experiences living in quarantine during COVID19. It was organized by the Packard Collegiate Institute. Students from Africa, Israel, US and Cambodia participate in an online forum where they can share their stories with each other. Students take photos that respond to several prompts that enable them to reflect on their lives during the pandemic and upload them to a shared Google drive with a small caption.

Seven students from PEPY are participating in the project. Lada Ly, Posy Leb, and Sokvouen Choeng, who wanted to share their thoughts as program participants, found it very insightful to hear from students from other countries and to be able to converse with them to learn about their thoughts and stories during this hard time.


I felt really excited to see all of them. I made new friends and listened to their stories. When I talked with other students, I was happy and it reminded me of a time when I was a student at PEPY. It also made me realize that my English language skill has been deteriorating over the past few months, so I need to work on improving my listening and speaking skills. While involved with the project, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to understand and remember the stories that each one of us took turn sharing. But everything went really well and I did great. For me, I really like this project because it shows me that even though we are from different parts of the world, we can still know and see what it’s like for everyone else living in their own homes during this time. Furthermore, we befriend each other despite our race, gender, age and where we come from.

Lada’s favorite photo that she contributed to the program. Her photo caption reads: This playground used to have many small children running around playing with each other, but now it’s so silent. I miss that.


I feel grateful for the participants. We are always supportive of each other. I can make new friends, improve my English language skill, receive good advice, share and learn from everyone else. I wasn’t very confident at the start and was uncomfortable sharing my personal stories. But I have learned to be more confident throughout the program.

Posy’s favorite photo that he contributed to the program for self-portrait week. His photo caption reads: I like to take photographs with a smiling face because I think that smiling makes us look great. I always smile because it makes me feel good and comfortable. Smiling makes the world beautiful and peaceful. If you don’t have a smile, I can give you one.


I love this project because it allows me to see what people from different parts of the world are doing during this tough time. From sharing our stories, I know that we are in this together and it’s very inspiring to learn from other students. I found ways to get creative with my photography and it was fun.

Sokvouen’s favorite picture from the program entitled “The Silent World” Her photo caption reads: When I took this picture, I was thinking about the world nowadays. My world at the moment is not colorful, unpleasant, and silent.

While we are still in a state of uncertainty, we are reassured by everyone’s inspirational effort to maintain togetherness and a general sense of normalcy through Packer Collegiate Institute’s Different Ships Same Storm. Even though things may look grim, students are hopeful and waiting for the day when they can finally return to school and take classes again.

Check out examples of all of the participating students’ works below (all of the students’ photos will be formally published by Packard Collegiate Institute in the future and we will update you when it becomes available):

Update: September 6, 2020. Different Ships, Same Storm project is now published and available online. See all of the artists’ work and commentary here. Great job to all the participants!