Interview with Jenna Graff

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐GL: This is Grace Lim interviewing Jenna Graff on December 16, 2021 for Campus COVID Stories. Campus COVID Stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experiences in the time COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Before we started, could you please state your name and spell it for us?

JG: JENNA GR A FF.

GL: Now for the purposes of getting good audio recording, please tell us again who you are and what your title is here at UW Oshkosh.

JG: My name is Jenna Graff. And my title is Director of the Office of International Education.

GL: Before we dive into your COVID campus COVID story we'd like to get you a little get to know you a little better. Can you tell us where you grew up?

JG: Sure. I spent my very early years in Waukegan, Illinois, just north of Chicago. I went through early grade school there before I moved up to Wisconsin 00:01:00in the Appleton area to be closer to grandparents.

GL: Great. And where did you earn your degree or degrees?

JG: I actually got my degrees, both from University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. I did my undergraduate here. And then after I started working, I did my master's degree here.

GL: And what were the degrees in?

JG: Oh, boy, the undergraduate one was a very long time ago. So that was probably a Bachelor's of Bachelor of Arts. It was in Spanish with international studies, maybe and I don't actually remember while my master's was educational leadership,

GL: Okay. I had no idea that you were a two-time Titan. Yeah, what? Three, three times three? Because you're employed here.

JG: That's right. That's right.

GL: How did you come to work here then?

JG: Funny story. So when I graduated from UW Oshkosh, I worked for the Dean of 00:02:00the Honors Program at the same at that time. He was dean of students, but also director of the Honors Program. And he knew that I really liked foreign languages and that I wanted to study Japanese, so he told me go off to Japan, you know, and, and study it. So there were professors in the department of foreign languages who recommended me to a Japanese professor to go off there. And then when I came back, that same professor called me and said, 'You owe us a favor. We need somebody to temporarily step in and be the secretary to the dean of the College of Business for six months. Will you do it?' That was in 1986. And I have been here ever since.

GL: How long? Have you graduated yet?

JG: Yes. I graduated in 90.

GL: Okay. Okay. All right. So then you just stayed.

JG: I just stayed. Yep. They just kept getting new and newer and newer jobs. And here I am.

GL: And when did you? When did you land the job that you have currently?

00:03:00

JG: So back in the early 2000s, nationally saw a big push in universities to centralize their international activities, mainly for liability reasons. So in 2003, we centralized and I was the one who was tasked with setting up a plan to centralize our international activities and then opening the office. And that's the Office of International Education.

GL: So tell me about that position. You know, what does that include? I mean, what do you Well, let's go with that. Tell me about the office, your office. What is that?

JG:

Okay. It developed over the years, so it started out as the study abroad office. But then we added things like the National Student Exchange, which allowed students to exchange within the United States, we added immigration advising, which means that we talk to students on student visas about immigration 00:04:00regulations and how they stay in compliance. We added tutoring for English language through the Center for Academic Resources. But reporting in my office, we added an intensive English program for students who needed to improve their skills before getting into university here. We added custom programs for students who actually study abroad, here in Wisconsin from their countries on the Oshkosh campus, and we do group professional development for people from overseas. And then finally, we added the Hessen Wisconsin Exchange Program that we're the administrative hub for the UW schools in the state of Wisconsin, administering this exchange between all the UWs in Wisconsin and all the private or the public, universities and universities of Applied Sciences in Hessen, Germany.

GL: Wait a minute, I had no idea that you had that last task, you know, as part 00:05:00of your your department the with all the EW schools?

JG: Yes, we do the administrative piece. So communication with our partners in Germany applications going back and forth, ironing out the challenges and individual student issues when we need to be involved. Meeting with people in the ministry there to end with UW system here to talk about the future of the exchange and new initiatives and that kind of thing.

GL: How many students from UWO, I mean, are you is does the is the department responsible for?

JG: So the total number of students, I did a little research before this and pre COVID. We had 643 students, and that includes the students going through the Hessen Wisconsin Exchange, who are not UW Oshkosh students. Okay, so we had 00:06:00about 310 Study Abroad, study away students. We had about 225 international students, mainly on the Fox Cities campus. A good number on the Oshkosh campus and one or two on the Fond du Lac campus. We had 12 students in our Intensive English Program. We had 32 students who were studying from their home countries studying abroad at UW Oshkosh for custom short-term programs that we ran for them here. And we had 41 students from Wisconsin, studying in Hessen, Germany and 23 from Hessen. Germany studying in Wisconsin schools. Wow. So let's grand total 643.

GL: Okay. All right. Okay, let's, let's move to the early days of COVID. What do you recall the first time you heard about this virus?

JG: I do. I do primarily because I'd already managed programs through SARS, and 00:07:00MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). And so this sounded like something brewing. And also because it was in China, where we run study abroad programs occasionally and have a lot of international students. So I originally found out in mid January. And just to put it into context, what I knew at the time, the very first message I sent via email to my staff, was a news article from NBC that was titled new virus prompts us health officials to begin airport screenings for passengers from Wuhan, China. So that's kind of where we started in looking at this virus and how it might affect us.

GL: Okay. And then, you know, the initial reaction to this this virus, I mean, what, tell us what you were thinking.

JG: Three thoughts first, thank goodness, we don't have any study abroad 00:08:00programs there right now. Second, we probably have faculty and staff there right now. And third, just concerned for our Chinese students. We did some research early in that month on the Oshkosh in the Fox Cities campuses, to determine how many Chinese students we had. And whether or not any were from Hubei Province, which is where Wuhan is. And we had 74 students total 65 on the Fox Cities campus and nine Chinese students on the Oshkosh campus, but none were from that particular province. So our very first major concern was sort of alleviated with that. Did you?

GL: I mean, at that time, did you know and this is mid-January, were you know, talking to the students at all about this where you're in standby mode.

JG: We were communicating with students we can see in a federal system if 00:09:00students have left the country. And so we were doing research there to make sure that we knew who was in the United States already. And then who was outside of the US potentially in China, because we were seeing things like the airport screenings and movement towards making flights more difficult. airlines were canceling flights, for example, and it was getting more difficult to get out of China.

GL: Okay, tell me again. I mean, in the mid-January, did you have you know, were you looking at your, okay, how many of your Chinese students were here?

JG: The majority were here or here and running. Okay. Yeah. Because they had been coming back already by mid-January and the third week of January. The real crunch time was that third week of January when flight started when it started to get really difficult to get here. Okay. So at that point, we had just a few 00:10:00students who hadn't made it at and I think I don't remember the total. Exactly, but I think it was two students who never got here.

GL: Okay, so they just, they just stayed. They just stayed back in China. Okay. Okay. All right. I mean, you know, at this time, it sounds like you're more concerned about the logistics not really about the disease itself. I mean, would it be accurate to say, or the logistics of getting your students, you know, here or somewhere safe.

JG: We were worried about the logistics, but we were also watching the airport screenings, hoping that that would be the way for, basically, you know, US government to ensure that anybody who got through wasn't ill. But at the same time, Vice Chancellor Cheryl Green started conversations, I would say, By the third week of January, where we were speaking, talking mainly about Chinese 00:11:00students coming from China. And those conversations included a very large group of people here on the campus. And critical to that was the participation of our student health center. And she also invited in people from the county health department. So they were giving information about COVID, what it was what we had to worry about, and helping to make decisions or making decisions about what do we need to do to comply with US government recommendations for travelers coming into the US at that time, there were no recommendations by that third week, you know, in that third week of January, when most of those students would have come in, most of the recommendations came later. Okay.

GL: So, so we had, I guess, on a normal, January, campus wide, I mean, so 00:12:00January, we were everybody's here, everybody's in person. And we were just going on in life as usual. Right. And then around mid-March, is when I mean, did this when we got the official notice from the from administration regarding the upcoming spring break. And, and then I think two days later, the email that went out to everybody saying we're actually going to just close the school. Yeah, like, send everybody home a week early. Yeah. Did you had? Did you have any warning that what's going to happen? I mean, you know, that was your department. I mean, just get the same message everybody got at the same time or what?

JG: Yeah, I think we might have been a little more prepared for it. Because in my unit, we'd been in COVID mode for weeks already. At that point, we had the 00:13:00entire conversation about Chinese students coming in, and then looking at future travel. And then we had an Executive MBA Program that was supposed to travel to Morocco and Portugal in mid-March during spring break, or right around there. So by early February, we were already doing a lot of research into the travel ban that were starting to get instituted. We were working through the insurance policy to try to figure out whether or not we had coverage for our financial risks. We were working with partners overseas, to try to make sure that they were actually going to be open and operating because things were starting to close down. And then by mid-March, there was the travel ban. And so we were already operating in that mode. We were seeing things get shut down everywhere. So I don't think we were surprised. But on a Monday, my supervisor called and said, We're all working from home as of tomorrow. So what date that was, it was 00:14:00the day before it was March 16. Because it was the day before St. Patrick's Day.

GL: And your supervisor was

JG: Carmen Faymonville, the VC of faculty and academic staff affairs

GL: And tell me again, the what was the message?

JG: So her message to me was just, we're all going to be working from home as of tomorrow and it's going to be about two weeks.

GL: Okay, I just want to get this straight in my head. So the spring semester of 2020 How many study abroad programs were you had had been planned already?

JG: So for spring semester, travel bans went into place at a very, very good time for us, because our semester programs are generally in countries where the semester begins in late March. So most of our students hadn't left yet. Or if 00:15:00they had left, they had just arrived overseas. And we had a very unusual spring semester, we had very few students in very few countries. So I, I can't remember the number offhand. I didn't look it up. But from what I remember, we had students who were either had just arrived in or we're leaving for Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, for sure, there were probably a couple of others. But

GL: So you had students that were already in the country in other countries.

JG: We had a few in Spain and in it would have been Italy, I think. And then the students going to Germany and Japan. hadn't really left yet. So semester start late. Okay.

GL: Okay. All right. So when one when we were actually sent home, I mean, what he said you got your department was a little more prepared, because you had 00:16:00already been dealing with the news of the virus, and the other countries around the world. First of all, how many people are in your actual department?

JG: We have eight people. 7.2 full time equivalents.

GL: All right. And then so when the official word was that we're going to be sent home a week before spring break? And then we have spring break? And then then I think, in same thing, we're just going to be going online. Right. I mean, that was, that was the thing that we would for the rest of the semester. What was your, you know, tell us what happened in your department.

JG: So it was interesting timing, because we were sent home. And then pretty soon after that, I want to say within days, the US government announced that we were banning all travel from Europe. So we were managing a pretty big deal with 00:17:00students who were supposed to be traveling and trying to get students back, and all working from home. For the first time, all of us were working from home. However, all of us work globally, and all of us work remotely, if you if you will, most of the time, because our partners are overseas or around the US. And so the only thing that was different and of course, during emergency situations, we were always working from home in the evenings or on weekends or something. So the only thing that was really different from us, for us was that our UW Oshkosh colleagues were also working remotely. And it made that whole situation, I think, a whole lot easier to deal with because we had so much experience.

GL: So the students that were actually in the their, their host countries exactly how I say, okay, you know, what? What did you have to do? I mean, were you trying to get them home? Were you trying to tell us what the plan was?

00:18:00

JG: So the students who were already in their host countries we worked with to, to bring home, we did have a few who said, No, they're not coming home. And so we worked with them to come up with a plan where they could stay on their campus and do their thing, and go on academic leave of absence from UW Oshkosh and make all of their decisions with their families. At the time, some of our students were in locations where there was far less COVID than in the US, and so their families, and they thought that it was much better to just shelter in place, stay where they were, than to come back here. I did have one student who had literally just arrived abroad, and her parents had gone with her to drop her off, which never happens. But there they were. And we were trying to reach the students. She wasn't responding. So I called the American emergency contacts. 00:19:00And they were standing in the room with her in Germany. And so we had some situations like that. The hardest thing was that because of the travel ban, and the fact that there was no announcement that it would be happening, it just we're all sitting there reading the news, and bam, there's a travel ban. It meant that 1000s of people were all coming from all over Europe, centralizing in these airports milling around trying to get flights because there were no flights. The airlines had no heads up. So there were there was no space to bring everybody home. People were stuck in airports, they couldn't get flights. They were all together in those spaces. Our student was very lucky, the one in Germany with her parents, she was able to get on a flight I think within 24 hours and get home. But then if you think about it, all those people then flew to central hubs in the US mingled again with other people coming from all over 00:20:00Europe and then were spread to their hometowns all over the US within, you know, a couple of days. So it was a horrifying experience for us because we were watching this thinking, this does not look like the best idea to keep COVID from spreading.

GL: Right. But what you can do, right? I mean, that's, it's like an impossible situation. Yeah. Yeah. So the student and parents got, were able to fly home. They got home. I got home, they got home. Awesome. Okay. So, the, you know, I think I am looking at this. Some. I think we were on the furlough program, weren't we? Yeah. Yep.

JG: I think it was made through August, I want to say where people were. We were on furlough for longer than that. But the full-time people who are off full time 00:21:00on furlough, I think was May through August

GL: of 2020 2020 20. Okay, were you among those that were furloughed? Okay. From the (unclear)

JG: I had the, you know, the on the certain number of hours of furlough like everybody else had, but I was not full time furloughed.

GL: And then then, you know, and I think actually, um, the government had come up with some sort of definition of people who are essential to the running of society, pretty much. And I think our university also, you know, follow that those kind of guidelines, or, you know, some of some of our staff are had been deemed essential to the operation of the university that they had to come on campus. Are you among those people?

JG: I was not, I was actually asked if I thought I was essential. And the way it was presented to me was not, are you and your job essential? But is it essential 00:22:00that you be physically present on campus to do your job? And it wasn't essential at all?

GL: Okay. All right. And then then, how often did you return to campus during the march to summer of 2012, through summer of 2020.

JG: So initially, you had to get permission to return to campus. And there had to be a really good reason. So my staff and I returned, one at a time, not all at the same time to grab the equipment that we hadn't taken with us, to our office chairs, because we weren't all set up to work from home. And beyond that, I came back, for example, to volunteer with food distribution from one of the parking lots. There were at least one day where facilities management needed assistance, cleaning out residence hall rooms from students who were required to leave, but didn't take their stuff with them. And so we went in, in a big group 00:23:00and did clean out and things like that.

GL: Okay. And when you came, you know, we came back in person, fall of 2020. I'm getting my dates all mixed up.

JG: 2021. Fall of 2021. Yep. Talking about this, August 2 of this year.

GL: Oh, no, no, but the fall of 2020. We did

JG: classes. Yes. Class. Yeah. Yeah.

GL: So were you still remote at that time.

JG: We were still remote all the way up until August 2 of 2021.

GL: Okay, all right. Okay. And then and then how did you feel about the protocols that the university have put in place with the masking, you know, policy, and then in the testing and the social distancing, etc, etc.

JG: I was really excited to see that, that the university was being so proactive to protect the students here, the community here community off campus. I'd been 00:24:00watching and researching the protocols going on in the different countries where we were planning to send students. And I was part of a sort of a national discussion on what universities should be doing, specifically for International Education and international students, but also, of course, touching on what the university did. So we were ahead of the game, and I think, probably a national model in the way that it was handled. And I'm just really proud that that UWS bash was in that place.

GL: Let me backtrack a little bit in the March when we were all sent home. Did you have any international students that didn't were not able to be sent home?

JG: Yes. It was extremely difficult for the Chinese students, because there were no flights Once there was a travel ban, it didn't make sense for the airlines to 00:25:00fly because they had no passengers. And so they were abandoning those flights. It was hard for the airlines to get in and out of China. And so it was extremely difficult for students to get home. Normally, if it was just one country with travel bans, you would just go through a third country, fine fly through Toronto, you know. But what was happening is there was this patchwork of travel bans all over the place, country to country. So now you've got to find a route from the United States to another country, and then through that country back home, and those routes closed fast. So you couldn't just kind of hop from city to city and spend two weeks here or two weeks there and then get home, it was becoming almost impossible. So the Chinese government was actually evacuating citizens. And none of our students got evacuated, but that's how it was handled.

GL: So how many of how many of our international students stayed here during that, you know, the march through the end of the semester?

00:26:00

JG: That is a good question. I don't I don't know the answer to that. I don't remember.

GL: Okay. Yeah. I'm gonna ask you to look like, that's fine. But so but for those students that were that were to definitely there were some students. Oh, yeah. Where did they go? Did they stay, I mean, they were probably in different dorms or

JG: so residents life here on campus did make it possible for students who had nowhere to go to live on campus. So our students temporarily moved into Gruenhagen, I think it was Gruenhagen Conference Center. Many of our students though, were not comfortable doing that, because they knew they weren't going to get to see their friends. And so off campus, students who were friends with some of the international students invited them to stay in their places or family members, you know, some of our other students

GL: and your, as a part of your job, your department's job to, you know, work, you know, when you were talking about the logistical nightmare of trying to get 00:27:00some students home, was that part of your job to find those flights or work on?

JG: Um, we weren't finding the flights, mainly, it's the parents who were doing that. But it was part of our job to work with students to make sure that they were in compliance with immigration regulations while they were trying to do that. And the issue was, you would think, okay, it's a pandemic, don't worry about it. But as soon as we went to online coursework, at the university, that meant that every international student was what they call out of status, they were no longer in compliance with federal regulations, because they're required to study in person. So this happened nationwide, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State who oversee the different student visa programs, were, of course, keenly aware, but there was a very, very big delay in getting guidance from those departments on how to keep students in compliance. 00:28:00So that was a big part of what we did. Most of what my office focused on, beyond deconstructing study abroad programs was immigration compliance.

GL: So how did that work? I mean, we did go online for the rest of semester.

JG: We did. And so eventually, the government came up with an exception where they gave a point in time, it was a particular date in March of 2020, if a student was physically present in the United States, and inactive status, in other words, in compliance with the regulations at that time on a student visa, that they could remain in the United States and study online.

GL: We know we're in a global pandemic, you think though there would be major

JG: exception, you can do it fast, but it took a really, I'm sure that these same agencies were probably trying to create exceptions to 1000s of others out 00:29:00there at the same time, and, you know, it was kind of a moving target, because then we didn't know there's no end date for the exceptions, but no, but nothing in the wording that would allow those to go beyond you know, a semester at a time. So getting the exceptions in place was just a constant delay as the semesters came up and as universities started to transition back to more in person, courses that got a lot more complicated.

GL: How did the students international students fare during this time with their education? Did your did your office get a lot of you know, calls of for help? I mean, in adjusting to those,

JG: so we do. Amy Jacobson is the Academic Support Coordinator. And basically she does English Language tutoring, but also oversees our retention in turn and 00:30:00works very closely with students who are at risk. And so she was reporting that the international students were struggling, consistent with what you saw with the domestic students. And so there was a big uptick in a need for additional assistance, but also outreach to make sure that these students were just falling off the radar. A lot of our students were actually studying online from overseas. And so reaching out and trying to get that assistance to them was particularly difficult, especially in China. Where normal modes of communication are often not available to the Chinese students.

GL: So, moving on the we talked, we're talking about the challenges. I mean, obviously, tell me your biggest challenges again, regarding you know, your department, your work during this time from March of 2020 to December, to now,

00:31:00

JG: okay. The challenges were on multiple fronts. So a huge one was financial and emotional, really, for, for what I call the outbound staff, these would be study abroad, student exchange, UW Oshkosh students going abroad. The staff had to spend many, many months deconstructing programming that they had spent many, many months constructing, promoting, talking to seriously super excited students about going on, pumping up the energy and just getting everybody ready to go. And suddenly, they're now in the position of having to get to give students the message that the programs aren't running. That was extremely disappointing for students, especially students who felt that they didn't have time then in their 00:32:00academic careers to go later on. And then financially. We had to deconstruct programs in a way that allowed us to save as lose as little money as possible. And I'm unbelievably proud of my staff, we lost nothing. We came out almost dead even on our losses. And so part of it was just a lot of research that I did, which was challenging in trying to figure out which governments were declaring an epidemic in particular cities or parts of the countries that we could make insurance claims. Government documents are not usually in English. They're in the language of the country. So it took me a lot to do that. And then my staff deconstructing these programs, and timing the deconstruction and messaging to 00:33:00students so that we could stay within cancellation policies from all of our myriad partners and things like that. So it was crazy. I already mentioned the challenge with the immigration regulations.

GL: I can't imagine what you had to do deal with trying to, I mean, how many studying for our programs are you talking about for that? That first the first spring? Yeah,

JG: ah, I did not count the programs. But we had May term programs, it's usually the heaviest time period for our group programs going out. And then we had a number of summer programs where we would normally have individuals traveling to our partner institutions

GL: More than five?

JG: Oh yeah, yeah, more than five. Yeah. Yeah.

GL: And I can't imagine what you had to do to call and contact all your, the hosts, your host cities, the, and talking to them and trying to get your money back and all that.

JG: Yeah. And during all of this, they're losing their jobs, right, because 00:34:00nobody's traveling, and these companies 100% of their business is generally study abroad. So worldwide, universities everywhere, cancelled all of their programs. And overnight, these companies needed staff to deconstruct but had no revenue coming in to pay them. So

GL: A lot of domino effect here going on. You talked about, you know, your department coming through, your staff. I mean, you know, with the, with the immigration, deconstructing these programs, anything else you want to mention that you had to deal with that, you know, that you hadn't had to deal with it in other times, you know, during the before times,

JG: yeah. I would just say that, you know, all the other things that are usually challenges were still coming up. So especially with immigration regulations and changes, announcements for changes and actual changes to immigration regulations 00:35:00that had nothing to do with COVID. But we're coming on top of all of these other things that we had to handle. So it was an extremely stressful time for the lead person Teresa Anderson, who did a lot of the research on the regulations and, and on me because that's my job is to research regulations and make sure that we're implementing the proper protocol and then to train out other states. And to make sure students understood all of the impending and also in place immigration regulations as they changed.

GL: You know, I gotta tell you, I had no idea that all this all these things were happening in the background. Yeah, I mean your department does amazing job getting us over there and having everything in place. And it was easy, easy for people who, who have benefited from all your hard work in the background. So 00:36:00thank you for that.

JG: Thank you.

GL: So, you know, tell me how has your job changed? Because of because of COVID? I mean, has it changed at all?

JG: um, I think that the biggest thing is that we have much better technology for virtual for virtual cooperation and collaboration. So previous to COVID, we had access to great technology here on the Oshkosh campus for virtual collaboration. But most of our partners overseas did not, the best we could do was a phone call for most of them. And in places like China, and much of Asia, they didn't even use phones, they used WhatsApp, which means that my staff have to share their personal phone numbers, for example, and use personal resources for for work.

GL: That social media, you know, the what, say WhatsApp, WhatsApp, okay. It's a it's an app for phone for international calls.

00:37:00

JG: Yeah, it's pretty much it replaces like text messaging, video, you can send video files and, and audio files. And you can also connect virtually just like you would in teams where you can see each other and talk to each other.

GL: So the so the, the use of technology has changed.

JG: For our partners overseas and actually using it, it used to be very, very formal, if you were going to set up a meeting where you're going to see each other, you had to send a date and time and plan everything out. And all the right people had to be there and you got an IT person in to set up the camera. And on our end, we weren't doing those things, but our partners were. And so now we can set up virtual meetings, and it's just a phone call. It's a WhatsApp, you know, with the video on and it's immediate. So it's removed a lot of the red tape. And I think brought people closer together because we're used to not 00:38:00meeting face to face and, and, yeah, it's just it's been really nice. That part of it.

GL: Okay. And then, um, you know, in the fall 2021, you know, vaccines had in the US have been readily available and, and as on campus and, and as strongly advocated by the administration and the CDC. I mean, what were your initial reactions to the COVID vaccines?

JG: To the COVID vaccines. So I was in a position where I had been reading really technical information on COVID since January of 2020. I was on the Emergency Operations Center team for the spring semester, I was in close contact and receiving information directly from Student Health. So I was really in the weeds on COVID and watching the vaccines. So when it came out, I think I was in 00:39:00a place where I could easily say that the risks associated with vaccinating were much, much lower than the risks associated with not vaccinating. I'd been watching global numbers of people dying and being hospitalized for so long that, yeah, I got it as soon as I could.

GL: How much do you feel? Now that things are beginning back to normal here on campus? This is the end of the fall of 2021. I mean, are we getting back to normal? Do you feel that?

JG: Um, I mean, everybody's normal is a little bit different. Mine's probably less exciting than the average person's. So my normal, you know, living here, the only thing I do differently is wear a mask. And I mean, I've been in Asia so many times that wearing masks even before COVID was not an unusual thing for me. I lived in Japan for a few years. You know, I've known for most of my adult life 00:40:00that masks work. So for me wearing a mask just doesn't make any difference. But my normal for travel has definitely been impacted and is not back. I have not had the opportunity yet to travel abroad. I've done a few domestic trips, but I was supposed to be in Germany this week. And our German partners cancelled not because of COVID in Germany in general, but because of restrictions on the campus where we were going to be doing all of our meetings. Yeah.

GL: And, you know, what has living in the working in the time of COVID has taught you about yourself and about others.

JG: Um, I would say that, you know, people find a way. So if somebody had made 00:41:00an announcement saying, we're going to spend the next year figuring out how a small percentage of our students or of our staff and faculty can work remotely, there would have been incredible resistance, there would have been hundreds of discussions, 1000s of staff hours put into this. And the outcome might not have been as, as efficient in terms of the actual implementation. But, you know, my staff woke up one day, they came to work, and they were told, Don't come back. And they didn't come back for 16 and a half months, and not one of them ever complained. I never had any issues with anybody not doing their work. They collaborated, they met, they excelled, and they did it. And they really didn't need much direction. They made it work. And I think it's a good reminder that we 00:42:00can do these things.

GL: Are you okay with us talking a little bit about your home life during this time? Yeah. Cool. All right. We were, you know, before this whole thing came down on us. I mean, there was a spring, we had a spring break coming up, did you and your family, did you have plans for spring break? Or?

JG: I live? It's just me and my adult son living at my house, and I'm on a 12 month contract, so I don't have a spring break.

GL: Okay. And then is a you and your adult son? I mean, you know, how were the COVID protocols? You know, actor that your Did you follow any of them? Between the two of you?

JG: We did, um, my son is extremely cautious about his own health and welfare, generally, not always, he's young. But he stayed home. He isolated, he wore a mask, in the very few instances that he actually went somewhere. And he had, I 00:43:00think, three or four friends that they decided they heard about these bubbles. And so they decided they were going to create their own bubble. They picked friends who they who either lived alone in our apartment, or had parents who were masking and being careful. And then this bubble kind of hung out and did things together. One of the kids in that group has celiac disease, pretty bad. And so they were really, really concerned about his health. And I think that that made a difference in their level of compliance with, you know, community recommendations.

GL: How about you? I mean, you know, with the sheltering space, sheltering in place, and, you know, and working remotely and everything, I mean, how are you doing, you know, mentally, emotionally.

JG: I was actually doing okay. I'm used to connecting virtually, my family did 00:44:00like Easter, virtually, you know, one person cooked a meal and delivered it to other people's houses, and then we all eat together. We did Christmas outside in a backyard, you know, same thing another holidays, and I didn't see my family much face to face, but we did. Okay.

GL: Is there anything else you would like to add?

JG: I'm just that I recognize that although I had challenges, my challenges were all related to issues that affected other people. Me as an individual, really, I didn't have I was very, very lucky. Nobody I know died. Very few people that I know got extremely sick. And my very close family and I have largely been untouched. So while there's been a few minor inconveniences, like getting an immunization and getting a mask, I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the 00:45:00people out there that kept this disease and this pandemic from having a negative effect on me and my loved ones.

GL: Well, thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the Campus Covid Stories at UW Oshkosh.

JG: Thank you