Student Art & Writing Contest: Featured Winner

The BE.Center launched a contest to explore student experiences with COVID-19, behavior change, and the environment. High school, college, university, and graduate students were encouraged to submit their creative reflections through a variety of mediums.
One of our favorite pieces was submitted by Hannah Hampson, a second-year master’s student of Environmental Engineering enrolled at Stanford University in California.
Hannah used art and poetry to reflect on her experience with COVID-19, nature, and adapting to a new normal.
How our hands move through a pandemic
and after
Facing a new reality, we adjust our hands as old habits die for our own protection. We no longer connect with ourselves and others in a tactile manner.
While we may first feel trapped, some hands search outward and find new hope through a new safe haven, nature. Where the air flows freely, we now reach out. We submerge, we nurture, we feel, and we heal.

By Hannah Hampson

Changing Behaviors in a Changing World: A Student Art & Writing Contest 5


Student Art & Writing Contest: Featured Winner
"To me, hands have been very symbolic during the pandemic because our dependence on touch and physical contact has been greatly inhibited. It never ceases to shock me how now, when I see people touch each other, or touch their faces, which I tried to capture in my first two paintings, I have almost this visceral aversion to it. A whole new set of rules guide our behavior."
Changing Behaviors in a Changing World: A Student Art & Writing Contest 6
"I think we all went through, or are currently going through, a phase of feeling imprisoned by the pandemic. I had a time period of just mourning the loss of normalcy, where life just felt less bright. But in the end, the beauty of this devastating time period is that it has allowed me to appreciate the natural world with greater intensity. I’ve always felt healing from nature, but my connection to the environment felt so much deeper when it became a primary place of safety. I’ve talked to many friends and family members about discovering new hikes and parks this year. It’s amazing what you can get out of just going on a walk and being present with water, vegetation, and every other natural component of the outdoors."
Student Art & Writing Contest: Featured Winner 1
"I think it’s so important that we reflect on who has access to nature and how we can ensure that everyone has the opportunity to find peace and healing in it. I feel so privileged to have access to green spaces and know that’s not the case uniformly across the United States and other nations. That kind of choice architecture can have profound impacts on the well-being of community members and make them more resilient to climate impacts, such as heat waves."
The BE.Center would also like to recognize the following students for their contributions to the contest:
  • Ryan Bestre, who is pursuing his master’s degree in Climate Change and International Development at the University of East Anglia
  • Edward Beard, who is pursuing his master’s degree in Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia