Maintaining social connections to your community during the summer
A full summer at home in the U.S. may be a new experience for our ambassador teachers who are accustomed to traveling internationally during this season. We know you may be feeling the impact of isolation and perhaps some boredom since travel options are limited this summer, so we want to make sure you have ways to feel fulfilled and connected to your local community. Read on for some ideas on how to stay connected during the summer.
Connect with your neighbors
Having a friendly face nearby goes a long way toward establishing feelings of home and community. In an age of increased digital connection heightened by COVID-19, it can be easy to forget the benefits of interacting in person and connecting deeply with your community and those who live close to you. There are many ways you can get to know your neighbors if you haven’t already. Consider leaving a note with your contact information in your neighbors’ mailboxes or tape it to their apartment door. Invite them to a socially distanced picnic outside, or if they are in a high-risk population for COVID-19, offer to do a task for them that lowers their risk. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, either–you may find people like to feel needed and helpful, too!
With more than two months of summer left, there’s plenty of time to organize an outing with your fellow educators that could be accomplished while social distancing. Get to know your area by visiting local parks and trails or just hanging out by the pool (if your apartment complex or community has one.) An outdoor barbecue, trip to the beach, or nature hike are all outdoor activities that are fun and generally free to do. Do you enjoy a challenge? Cross places off your bucket list with the North Carolina State Parks passport program and rack up prizes along the way. Set a goal, grab a friend or two, and commit to getting out of the house at least once a week to enjoy the warm weather and summer months while they last!
Invest energy in your hobbies
The summer is also a great time to reinvest yourself in what you love doing outside of work. Are you passionate about travel and experiencing new places? There are many day trips from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia that can be accomplished safely while social distancing. Are you an avid reader or interested in handicrafts? Consider visiting independent bookshops or local hobby stores to get a new recommendation from a fellow reader or hobbyist. Many small, local businesses have Facebook pages where they will post special events for their fans, and websites like Meetup.com have groups for every kind of hobby. Get to know your community through the activities and hobbies you love, and find others near you who also enjoy the things you do.
Give your time through volunteering
Not only is volunteering an excellent way to get to know new people in your community, but it’s also wonderful for your self-esteem. The act of helping others gives us purpose, and there are lots of ways to volunteer within your community while social distancing this summer. Is there an organization you already care about, such as a church, charity, or school PTA that has specific summer opportunities you could participate in? Consider organizing a small food drive within your apartment building to make a donation and give back while also meeting the people who live next to you. Whatever you are passionate about, there is probably a group that would value your contributions and appreciate your help.
What are you doing to maintain connections to others this summer despite social distancing? Share with us on social media and use the #unitingourworld hashtag so that other ambassador teachers see, too!