In early 2020, I joined the ranks of people who lived in a remote setting when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. I was the first student to take part in the Fulbright Denmark/Greenland Arctic Semester program. I was only a few weeks into my time in Greenland in March of 2020 when travel in and out of the country was shut down and we were asked to quarantine in our student housing. Luckily, we were able to continue taking online courses and spend time outdoors skiing, fishing and hiking.
My experience in the beginning of the pandemic was truly unique, and I felt fortunate to be in Greenland. The resilience and positivity the Greenlandic people showed in the face of the chaos unfolding in the world inspired me. Once the number of cases had fallen into the single digits in the country, we were allowed to shop and interact somewhat normally. In fact, I didn’t own a mask until I left the country in June 2020. Since travel had closed, my peers and I were essentially “stuck” in Greenland, but it never felt that way. Our Greenlandic and Danish friends, professors, and neighbors made sure to check in with us constantly and extend their hospitality. In the stores, mask-less faces still smiled at each other or held doors for strangers while families and friends laughed together waiting for the bus, and people I’d never met would ask where I was from in the United States, recognizing my American accent.
Living in Greenland in the spring of 2020 gave me my last taste of a COVID-less world, and I will always be grateful to the Greenlandic people for their warmth, humor, and kindness. As a wildlife biologist, I learned so much from their culture, specifically their reverence and respect for arctic wildlife. I hope to always carry Greenlandic values with me, and share what I know of their culture and country with my colleagues, friends, and family in the United States. Qujanaq, Greenland!
Taylor Rose Azizeh – Fulbright to Denmark/Greenland 2019