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Contributed by
CASEY CHAFFIN
2016 Bezos Scholar
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Student Stories

Scholar Spotlight: 2016 Scholar Casey Chaffin

What are you up to right now? What projects and new ideas are exciting you personally / academically / career wise?
I’m in an adjustment period right now. I was on study abroad in Spain when the pandemic exploded, and I had to leave what was supposed to be a semester-long program after two weeks. So that derailed all the plans I had from March through June. But after I got back from Spain, I started writing about the effects of the pandemic locally for my college newspaper. It’s been surreal to be part of documenting this wild moment in time.
 
Which influential books, albums, podcasts, or films would you personally recommend to the BSP community of curious minds - especially while we’re all staying in!?
I’ve been having trouble focusing on reading (am I alone there?), but I’ve been listening to a ton of podcasts. For pure enjoyment, my go-to podcast is “You’re Wrong About.” It’s a deep dive into people and events that have been misremembered or misinterpreted on a grand scale—recent episodes range from OJ Simpson to Y2K to the Satanic Panic. On the mental health side, “The Hilarious World of Depression” and “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” are both podcasts that have been really integral to my own self-reflection and provided some insight to coping in this moment.

Who or what are you finding inspiration in right now?
When I was in Spain, I was living in Salamanca, a city that’s been around for centuries. I’ve tried to find inspiration in the longevity of that place. I felt particularly moved when I visited the Catedral Vieja and sat in the pews of the 800-year-old chapel—I was looking around at this structure and thinking about how many people have passed through it, lived and died nearby, and how it still stands. It’s proof of how much we can endure. I’ve been trying to think of my community and myself as that cathedral—persistent and resilient even among change and tragedy.


Anything else you want to share with the BSP community?
Please pay attention to your loved ones’ and your own mental health. In my home state of Oregon, suicide is the leading cause of death for young people, even before the pandemic. It’s yet to be seen how the pandemic will affect those numbers, but I can’t imagine it’ll be for the better. So, make sure to check in on the folks around you.

Contributed by
CASEY CHAFFIN
2016 Bezos Scholar
Categories
Student Stories

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