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Coping in isolation: Time to Think
Coping in isolation: Time to Think

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Session 3: Our minds are always free


This is a photograph of a section of fence with barbed wire attached. There is blue sky in the background.
Figure 1 Wire against a blue sky, Belfast, County Antrim.

In this final session of the course you will explore new opportunities for using your mind and imagination during times of social isolation and confinement. During this session, course co-producers and Open University graduates, Michael, a Republican ex-prisoner and David, a Loyalist ex-prisoner, draw on their past experiences of confinement to suggest strategies for finding peace of mind and embarking on new discoveries. You will also hear stories from Open University students in the Time to Think archive, who used education for solace and escape while in prison during the years of conflict.

A recurring theme throughout this session is the power of human resilience in times of adversity, our abilities to problem solve, and the importance of hope in driving us forward. The poem ‘Don’t quit’, written in 1921 by the British born American poet Edgar Guest (1881–1959), has inspired and motivated many people through difficult times. It also featured in a short film by the BBC released in April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this film the poem is read by the British actor Idris Elba. Now take a moment to watch the short film: Bringing us closer [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

You can also read a full version of Guest’s poem.

Activity 1 Reflecting on what inspires or motivates you

Note down your reflections, in response to the following questions, in the box below.

  1. What was your reaction to this short film? Is there a line in the poem that speaks to you in your situation?
  2. What have you found most surprising, hopeful or inspirational during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
  3. List one thing, no matter how small, that has helped you through this or other difficult times.
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