UCI News

UCI students publish book about life under quarantine

Patience and Pandemic is a collection of photos, essays and poems

January 7, 2021
UCI students publish book about life under quarantine
The book, edited by Karishma Muthukumar, founder of the Patient Project and UCI’s 2019-20 Dalai Lama Scholar, will be released this month. Karishma Muthukumar

Irvine, Calif., Jan. 7, 2021 – Students from the University of California, Irvine are self-publishing a book about their lives during the COVID-19 crisis. Patience and Pandemic, which is set to be released this month, is a collection of photography, essays and poetry solicited during the summer of 2020 as a way for Anteaters to express themselves during the stay-at-home order.

The organizers originally came together in late 2019 as part of the Patient Project, a UCI compassion-in-action initiative centered around the concept of alleviating anxiety in hospital waiting rooms. Undergraduates aimed to promote conversation and community by waiting alongside patients in healthcare centers. When the pandemic hit, they pivoted to chronicling life under quarantine and its similarities to waiting.

“It’s challenging to be in a waiting room, a place where people often find themselves anxious and alienated, so we wanted students to reimagine what it means to be a patient,” said project founder Karishma Muthukumar, UCI’s 2019-20 Dalai Lama Scholar. “But then COVID-19 happened, and the whole world became a waiting room. So we decided to focus on the experience of being in quarantine.”

In June of 2020, four months into the stay-at-home order and the universitywide shift to remote learning, Anteaters were invited to submit artwork and prose on the theme of patience during a global pandemic.

An editorial board made up of seven UCI students pared the 165 entries down to about 50. The resulting book reveals the voices and vulnerabilities of both undergraduate and graduate students, including those from the medical and law schools.

“What they shared for this project is truly remarkable,” said Edgar Dormitorio, UCI’s assistant vice chancellor for student affairs. “The book memorializes the experiences of this generation during the pandemic and conveys their remarkable resiliency despite the challenges.”

Patience and Pandemic launches this month in print form, edited by Muthukumar, a junior in cognitive sciences and biological sciences, and designed by Caitlin Yee, a sophomore in biological sciences. The student editorial board hopes to follow up with an interactive, digital community journal later in the year.

The book is supported by UCI’s XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship Fund and by the Strauss Foundation. The Patient Project, which became a campus organization in December 2019, will serve as a means of community engagement around Patience and Pandemic.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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