Containers of Elmer’s glue and Model Color paint line the back edge of the workspace. Dozens of miniature British soldiers bask under the bright yellow sunlight that emanates from a navy desk lamp.
The soldiers are not yet ready for war — real or simulated. Most remain unpainted. They belong to Andrew Scott ’22, who was painting one when I called. Scott said that building and painting a single soldier takes an hour. To complete his models, Scott turns cork board into terrain and oven-baked dirt into modeling sand. He has been making miniatures for eight years — enough time to make hundreds of the intricate figurines. College had put Scott’s hobby to a halt. And quarantine in Batavia, Illinois has allowed him to resume.
“This is just going on for so long that you can’t spend all of your time stressing out about it,” Scott said. “I’m thinking of things to do to make this time productive.”
Scott made a pandemic to-do list which includes his miniature building. He also mentioned getting back into guitar and relearning the French he’s forgotten from high school.
Scott wakes up at 8:30 a.m every morning for Russian class, and spends the afternoon watching his Christian Mysticism lectures from the previous week: a series on female mystics like Joan of Arc and Margery Kempe. He said that the University’s Universal Pass policy has alleviated some of his stress, and he’s still keeping up with his classes.
Scott worries much more about his parents, especially his mother. Scott is quarantining with his parents and older brother. His father manages a group of companies, and his brother works for the DuPage county government as “something like a parole officer.” Both work from home now.
But his mother works at a care home and must still go there to work. The care home closed its doors to visitors, mandates that employees wear masks and takes workers’ temperatures twice a day, but Scott’s mother is still concerned. Scott knows that both of his parents are immunocompromised and worries about how they would respond to contact with the virus.
On the floor of the Scott family garage sits what he calls a “sanitation station.” Here, they wage a microbial war against the virus. Everything that arrives from the outside world sits on the platform, and Scott and his family thoroughly disinfect items like groceries.
Scott’s family hasn’t had “official family gatherings” even though they “show up, check on each other and banter or whatever.” He had a solitary lunch of leftovers today — hot dogs and macaroni salad.
“I did not cook it,” Scott said. “But we’ve been making a lot of food as a family, and I’m the designated person to eat all the leftovers in the house.”
Scott and his high school friends have found ways to remain connected. They often call to talk — about anything and everything — on Friday and Saturday nights until around 2 a.m. It’s a tradition that has continued over the last two years even though they all attend different colleges.
“It felt like I was back at school talking to them back at home because we were talking but I couldn’t see them because we were all isolated in our houses,” Scott said. “It almost felt normal.”
One of Scott’s high school friends, Evan Pasero, said that they call their friend group “Pangea,” which came from a strategy in one of the games they often play together. Pasero said that they could always and can still always talk about anything and everything. Amidst social isolation policies, he talks to Scott every day and appreciates his company, especially in a time of crisis.
“Andrew is one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met,” Pasero said. “He’s always in tune with people’s emotions and … is a very calming influence. I’ve never walked away from a conversation with Andrew where I’ve left feeling more stressed about, anything, really.”
Scott’s Yale community consists, in part, of the Yale Russian Chorus and Student Technology Collaborative. He joined the chorus as a first-year because he wanted to continue singing in college and is now the organization’s president. They had to cancel their spring and late summer tours to California and Russia. Scott said that while he wasn’t happy with the decision initially, he now knows that it was the “right thing to do.” It’s hard to sing with an ensemble when its members are scattered around the country, but Scott hopes to use this time to plan next year’s season.
The Student Technology Collaborative, on the other hand, has been even more active than when students were on campus. Within the two weeks of spring break, the organization revamped itself entirely to become an online help center. Scott said that he’s “impressed” with the speed and effectiveness with which his coworkers and bosses made this change.
Scott is a student tech coordinator — he manages a queue that includes a subset of the student population and ensures that people are getting helped. He’s continued to do that, possibly in an even greater capacity than before students were asked to leave campus, because learning is now more technology-reliant than ever.
Scott seems generally satisfied with his daily routine.
“I’m doing things because I want to learn, and I’m enjoying it more” Scott said. He’s hoping for a “net positive outcome” despite all the damage the virus is doing. “It’s just important to me to remember that this is not a permanent thing.”
But sometimes, when Scott thinks he’s been inside for too long, he goes outside for a socially distant walk. He usually walks alone.
“We all did this little dance — if you’re walking along the sidewalk and somebody else is on the same side,” Scott said. “And then one person wanders onto the street to avoid being too close to you, and you kind of wave awkwardly.”
Aside from his walks, Scott spends most of his day inside, basking under the same desk lamp that illuminates his miniature soldiers. He and the soldiers are both preparing for war against an invisible enemy — for Scott and his family, that enemy is the virus. And Scott, like the soldiers he crafted, is able to find sunlight where he is.
Phoebe Liu | firstname.lastname@example.org
This story is part of a larger series profiling Yale and New Haven community members during the COVID-19 pandemic. To read more, click here.