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2020, April 15 NU now

"Quarantine" mode. How did quarantine affect the NU graduates 

2020, April 15

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On March 19, the capital  introduced the "Quarantine" regime – where the city borders were closed for entry and exit, movement in the city was limited, and people were encouraged to keep social and physical distance from others.  From March 30, companies moved to remote work and ceased their traditional (usually in person) mode of operation,  and from April 6, all educational institutions shifted to distance learning.

It should be noted that the current situation has exposed existing weaknesses in many systems, but this can also be seen as a great opportunity to refine  and strengthen areas in order to become more resilient to subsequent challenges.

We are launching a series of articles entitled "Quarantine Mode". In the first article in the series, our alumni share how quarantine has affected them, what has changed in their lives and work, and how they have adapted and experienced personal growth.

 Ayan Birimzhan,
School of Humanities and Social Sciences (Since 2019, School of Sciences and Humanities), Class of 2016

Сo-founder of HEALTH PROJECT, a health food company

-Quarantine has heavily affected us. All our branches are closed and now we work on healthy food delivery only. Unfortunately, we had to furlough some of our employees for a month, and for those are still working we had to reduce salaries by 25%-50%. But the most important thing is that we did not fire anyone at this stage . We now have almost no income, and in some projects we face losses due to  payroll and rent. But we will be able to survive quarantine, thanks to the reserve fund of each project.

This is our first crisis and this is why everything happens for us for the first time. From myself, I recommend not just to read, but to thoroughly study the book "Antifragile" by N. Taleb. It will help one to better adapt to stress and benefit from such situations.

During the crisis, we have understood a lot of things, here are just a few of them:

- Crisis is a test of resilience. Thanks to the crisis, we begin the process of adaptation. For a twig, it is better to bend than break.

- First of all, you need to care about your clients, not the business, as clients are your source of income.  

- We discovered that in some projects there are too many employees. At a stage of development usually you do not notice it. I think that in the future it will help to better distribute the payroll.

- Quarantine helped us to complete some tasks and we had been postponing due to growth.  It turns out that we are not stepping back, instead we are accelerating!

Diana Toimbekova,
Graduate School of Education, Class of 2016
Facilitator of the Association of Family Doctors of Kazakhstan

- When quarantine began in Nur-Sultan and Almaty, I was invited to the Communications Team of the Association of Family Physicians of Kazakhstan (AFPK). 

We work to answer questions for the population both  online and live.  We use  the collected data to create infographics and cards on coronavirus. In addition, we continue to run the Association’s Instagram-project for children, where we talk about the importance of hygiene, washing hands, proper nutrition, we hold various challenge flash mobs, competitions with gifts, where children should answer questions on coronavirus and other topics. In general, WHO and other organizations have encouraged people to do such activities. In Kazakhstan, AFPK has taken the initiative.

The Association is working hard to debunk the myths about COVID-19 and even before the coronavirus came to Kazakhstan they warned about the seriousness of the virus, answering people's questions, an convincing them that it is not a "conspiracy theory", but a real threat. I recorded an interview at FindYourB with one of the association's doctors to help people who wanted  reliable information about the new virus. There is another girl from NU in our team, and three other NU students are also facilitators of the association, but at the moment they are not dealing with COVID-19 issues. 

I think it would be cool if people knew about this reliable source of information and listened to highly qualified doctors.

 Nursultan Raissov,
 School of Engineering (since 2019 School of Engineering and Digital Sciences), Class of 2015,
Patentes Talgo, Maintenance Engineer

-The quarantine period for people may vary depending on employment, location and type of work. Me and my wife have currently been furloughed and we noticed the uniqueness of this period in our lives. The uniqueness is that this time of leave is not similar to the usual vacations that we spend travelling, and therefore it is necessary to take this opportunity properly. I think this is a great opportunity when outside of the daily hustle and bustle it is possible to complete postponed business, to immerse yourself, to rethink your current situation, to set new goals, to set priorities, and of course to develop. So that when the quarantine is over, we do not regret wasted time in vain, we have compiled a daily routine that includes professional development, training in certain skills, communication with family and friends, spiritual improvement, sports activities and evening entertainment. Even though there is no mandatory schedule for the day, that does not mean the day should be without structure.  People should still try to get good sleep and follow proper nutrition.

Finally, I wish everyone to remain proactive and positive at this time of self-isolation. Good immunity and good health!

Aisara Yessenova,
Graduate School of Education, Class of 2016

teacher, research scientist, freelance editor (freelancer)

-With the quarantine, my daily routine has changed slightly. The boundaries between time to work and time for yourself have disappeared. So I try to do the most important tasks before lunch. Since now there is a lot of uncertainty and many people are afraid of the unknown, I try to say "work out the routine". For example, to learn something new, to go to bed early, to get distracted from reading the news and to cook myself. So, I signed up for a mini-course on creativity from EdGravity, I try to do yoga twice a day and listen to podcasts.

What has changed?

Work in the office has changed to remote form, all business trips around the country have been rescheduled. Instead of away seminars we switched to webinars. In connection with the transition to distance learning, I answer teachers' questions on how to use electronic resources for learning.

Aktore Barlybayev,
School of Science and Technology (Since 2019, School of Sciences and Humanities), Class of 2016

QNE, project manager 
Co-founder of "Skill Pro" LLP 

I never imagined that I would be in the current situation, that I would personally experience such a pandemic, but life has its own plans. Now there is a kind of reboot or rollback of everything to the "basic settings. – The basic settings, or basic needs, are not much beyond  family, home, groceries and communication. Like many of us, I'm grateful to everyone who's helping to solve this coronavirus problem. As funny as it sounds, I also do my part - I'm at home, developing my skills. Because each of us is a little cog in a big state mechanism. If each of us can succeed in our cause, we will be able to help the country get better.

After starting university, I rarely visited my hometown and could hardly stay a week there then I had to go back to studies.  But when I learned about the planned quarantine,  I decided to stay with my family in my hometown during this difficult period.  But what is most important in this situation  is to manage the time properly.

I've set up classes as subjects during my studies, but with flexible schedules. So, my schedule consists of product management, programming, Spanish, reading books, physical exercises, cleaning and some other works in the yard, and project work. In general, many services now offer free access to lessons and other materials, you just need to start using them. There are also unplanned "electives" on the schedule - such as talking on the phone, going to the store, meeting with friends who have permission to move around the city and who to visit if possible.

The focus is, of course, on projects; the good news is that we have a remote working environment in the country. 

At the end of 2019, with my partners we started creating an online school as a tool for educational business. That time, we had no idea about events that will happen soon in the world. The idea was simple: for a business that had a learning element, we created an online school - a system like Moodle, but more functional and with a modern, friendly interface. Next, our clients begin to train their students and employees, and sell their courses to others. So, their business isn't idling, it's starting to make even more than offline.

When the rules of the game change, you need to have time to rebuild and/or change the approach.

For example, Walmart  a "Titan" of commerce, has created an application for product delivery and is making progress. In other words, if there's an obstacle in the way, as quarantine in this case, it is necessary to find alternative approaches to solving the problem; if it does not work, it is possible to develop other spheres in the "wheel of life", and later return to it again.

As history shows, all things come to pass, the only question is how we will come out of this quarantine situation.


More info about latest Nazarbayev University updates on actions to address the COVID-19 situation here.

It is noteworthy that all important and updated information is available at the University’s COVID-19 website.

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