How One Student Is Keeping Tabs on (Literally) Every Country

Since March 20, Cinny Lin has been documenting the COVID-19 situation in various countries. On her instagram, "@coronavirus_country", she covers a new country each day, and provides details regarding either local and international headlines. In this interview, OCA sought to better understand Cinny’s daily motivations as well as how her project is evolving.

In what Cinny calls, the post that “officially launched her Instagram,” she describes her project:

This is a small project that I’ve been working on, to cover one news a day, about how a country is fighting against coronavirus, in alphabetical order.

It started out with a challenge I set for myself: learn as much as I can about a different country every day. Starting with the basics of capital cities and political histories, my research quickly evolved into learning about each country’s efforts to combat coronavirus.

In every news I cover, I try to look into how the government and/or the people is responding to coronavirus. I came to realize that coronavirus is not just an issue of global health. Coronavirus is intertwined with the issues of class, education, economy, and politics. If you are poor and out of work, if you were misinformed, if you live in a country where the government is incapable of taking action, your chances of infection are significantly higher.

I am definitely one of the lucky ones, and if you are reading this, you probably are one of the very lucky ones too. If you can do something to help your local community, do it. If you can’t, try to stay informed, stay connected to people and the world. Knowledge alone makes a big difference!

The Beginning of @coronavirus_country

As NYU’s global sites closed all over the world, Cinny found herself having to quarantine for 14 days in Taipei after returning from London. Wanting something to occupy herself with, she embarked on a project to learn about a new country each day. This started off with the basics: learning where a country is located, what its flag looks like, and  some local news of the country. Cinny said that on her second day of writing, she noticed that “the ‘local’ news were all about the same ‘global’ pandemic”. She also realized that people were experiencing the pandemic differently because of their social-economic status and how their government was responding. That was how Cinny’s “Countries Against Coronavirus” project came about.

Cinny first moved to Instagram because she wanted other people to read about her findings. After a month, she started connecting with others on Instagram, which now has almost 200 followers.

Cinny’s Process and How it has Evolved

In order to stay on top of her project, Cinny works on finding country information first thing in the morning. When she first started out this process took nearly 3 hours, but now this routine typically takes around an hour and a half. As her project shifted from private to public, Cinny started to feel more pressure regarding what headlines she selects each day. Cinny said she’s “afraid of generalizing,” and does her best not to make too many outright connections between countries in order to avoid overshadowing. Another obstacle Cinny faces on Instagram is the word count. This comes with compromise, sort of “like having a thesis without the rest.” Cinny’s captions are shorter than what she would normally write, but have helped her stay concise. 

Overtime, Cinny has found a way to expand this project to other areas of interest. She wanted to relate this project to her data science major. For example, she made a plot to showcase the growth of confirmed COVID-19 cases using R language after she finished covering all the countries that start with “A”. 

Cinny’s Advice 

Lastly, OCA asked Cinny for a quick piece of advice to those that are currently social distancing regarding how to stay motivated at home. Cinny said that for her, the key was to “find something that interests you and only do a little bit everyday,” like she did learning about a new country each day. Cinny has gradually expanded her project to encompass her interests from both in and out of the classroom.

This article was written by Stephanie Scaglia and edited by Cinny Lin. Contact via email at scs676@nyu.edu to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Cinny Lin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *