From Arabic to art: Community explores new hobbies during quarantine

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Photo credit: Racheal Azrialy

These are some of the pieces Azrialy has made in her free time.

By Cadence Callahan, Staff Reporter

On March 19, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order due to the COVID- 19 outbreak, which has remained in place since. While at home, many students have picked up new activities and skills to entertain themselves. Students from all grade levels have been experimenting with a variety of new hobbies, from learning new languages to painting.

Junior Rachael Azrialy has been spending her free time doing origami and other crafty activities.

“At the beginning of quarantine, I definitely was doing more creative projects,” she said. “I took out my old rainbow loom bracelet kit and I was [making] a bunch of [bracelets].”

Azrialy said learning origami was tricky at first, but after watching some tutorial videos, she honed in on the skill.

“It was very difficult,” she said. “I was making these modular-type things, and you had to make multiple pieces…just putting it together was difficult, so that involved lots of YouTube videos.”

Over this break, a few students have been doing some out-of-the-box activities, such as junior Gabriela Ayala, who has been learning Arabic.

“I’ve always been interested in Arabic,” she said. “I speak Spanish already, so I thought it would be really interesting to learn a new language that I don’t really have a chance to learn at Archer but can learn on my own.”

Some of the resources Ayala has been using to learn Arabic are Duolingo and online videos. She practices every day and said the experience has been fun for her.

“It’s been different because it’s backward from what [English speakers] traditionally know,” she said, “It’s also been really eye-opening because we’re used to doing it with a certain letter sequence, so in Arabic, it’s different characters.”

Some students, including seventh-grader August Kohn, are getting active during this time.

“I learned how to rollerblade,” Kohn said. “I just had a lot of free time so I went out to my driveway and just kept on practicing.”

Kohn said her spring break included self-care, such as extra exercise and going on runs. She has also been connecting with family over the past couple of weeks.

“I’ve been relaxing and have been spending a lot of time outside, which isn’t something I usually get to do because I was usually always occupied with schoolwork and theatre,” Kohn said.

Some students have gotten in touch with their musical side over these past couple of months. Senior Josie Gordon has been teaching herself how to play the harp, which she rented shortly before quarantine started.

“I play piano and violin, so [the harp] seemed like a cool instrument to play.” she said. “I’ve always watched videos and thought ‘I want to learn this.’ The skills from violin and piano cross over really easily, so it’s been really cool experience.”

Gordon found playing the harp “surprisingly easy” due to the fact that she plays other instruments.

“The harp is very similar to the piano because [of hand positions] — it’s just left-right, ” she said. “The most difficult thing is that now I primarily play the violin and less piano, so I only really read treble clef and harp has treble and bass clef, so I kind of had to re-pick up the skill of reading bass clef.”

Other students, like freshman Ella Poon, have been baking recently. Though baking is not a new skill for Poon, she said she has enjoyed reconnecting with the hobby. Outside of baking, she likes to occupy herself with a project to start her day, which includes helping her grandmother with her work.

“My grandmother publishes books to help kids learn how to read and do math,” she said, “I’ve been formatting those books in photoshop — so far, I’ve done about 25 hours of work for her.”

Poon makes an effort to keep in touch with family and friends during this time. Zoom has been a helpful tool for her to stay connected.

“I’ve been writing letters to family and friends, which has been nice,” she said. “I connected with some friends over text and FaceTime; we’ve also Zoomed a couple of times.”

Like Poon, sixth grader Lila Bigalow has also taken up baking in her free time. She considers herself not to be a “great” baker, but she is honing in on her skill.

“I’ve done some baking; I’m not the best at it, but I’ve gotten better,” Bigalow said. “I’ve gotten some cool recipes off of the internet and also some recipes friends have given me.”

She’s also been experimenting with her artistic side by learning how to paint.

“I’ve painted some easter eggs, a mountain and some colorful blobs and shapes,” she said.

All of the students hope to reconnect with friends and family once the stay at home order is lifted, but with the order being extended through July, that won’t be for a while.

Despite the fear and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, the students interviewed said they have been making the most out of the situation by focusing on some much-needed self-care and relaxation.

“This quarantine has been relaxing,” Ayala said. “It’s been a lot of time for reflection to see how I can better organize my time, while also taking advantage of being able to learn new stuff that I didn’t previously have time for.”