Mother Daughter Diaries: COVID-19 | Returning Home from Abroad

Interview by
Diane Danvers Simmons
Natalie Simmons
Published on
April 20, 2020

In this episode...

The second installment of Mother Daughter Diaries: COVID19 compares and contrasts the experiences of two young women being forced to return home to their families from abroad due to COVID-19 in late March 2020. Diane & Natalie interview two mother-daughter duos about the experience of coming home and their perceptions of the response in countries they left; Victoria, returning from her job placement in Singapore with her mother Nancy; and Fiona, returning from her graduate degree in Public Health in London with her mother Hazel.


Victoria Lewis

Victoria is a mid-twenties millennial who works as an IT product manager for an international firm and aspires to live all over the globe leveraging innovative technology to enhance the healthcare industry. Energetic and spontaneous, Victoria loves working out almost as much as she loves dessert.

Nancy Lewis

Nancy’s retirement from the corporate world where she served as an IT executive came just as the Covid-19 virus struck. Now with the second phase of her life on hold, she supports family and friends impacted by the lock down. She is the mother of two including her daughter, Victoria.

Fiona Watkinson

Fiona is currently completing her master’s degree in public health at Imperial College in London, England. In her free time, she enjoys sunny days at the beach in Gloucester, traveling to different parts of the world, and fantasizing about adopting a dog in the near future.

Hazel Watkinson

Hazel resides in Massachusetts with her husband Edward,, a loving Doodle and a crazy cat. Having raised two children and retired from her career as an Executive Assistant, she’s an active member of a philanthropic gardening group and works part-time as a Certified Nursing Assistant.


Key Points

1:35 - Diane & Natalie introduce the theme and format of the second installment of Mother Daughter Diaries: COVID-19 briefly describing the two mother-daughter interviews that contrast experiences of young women returning from Singapore & London.

5:30 - Interview with Victoria (daughter) & Nancy (mother) Lewis begins. The two guests introduce themselves. Nancy shares her decision to enter early retirement just previous to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the US.

7:25 - Victoria shares her experience and how safe she felt with with Singapore's response to the COVID-19 threat. She describes the way the country started contract tracing and taking temperatures of their citizens early on to mitigate the spread of the disease.

10:15 - Victoria talks about what it was like to return home through JFK and how shocked she was at the US's lack of response at that point.

12:00 - The group discusses what triggered Victoria to return to the US in late March after being in Singapore since early February. This includes both personal health concerns and governmental decisions that would limit her from healthcare access.

14:45 - Nancy and Victoria share what life has been like living at home together again and some of the the fun they have been having.

17:45 - Victoria shares her belief in the opportunity that comes with this time and how she advises others to take "impactful little actions" whether it be connecting with a friend, cooking yourself a meal or picking up a new skill.

19:00 - Nancy recounts a funny story about convincing her 93-year-old neighbor to hold off on her card party during this time.

20:30 - Victoria compares the US reaction to Singapore's and expresses hope that our population can being to think more from a place of community that the individual.

22:30 - Diane & Natalie introduce the second part of the episode with mother-daughter duo, Fiona (daughter) & Hazel (mother) Watkinson.

24:00 - Interview with Fiona & Hazel starts. Fiona introduces herself.

25:10 - Fiona retells the stressful story of returning from London in late March.

26:15 - Hazel introduces herself and shares how things have changed at home including Fiona's boyfriend joining them in the household for the time being.

28:00 - Fiona reflects on her perception of the US response versus the UK having lived through Prime Minister, Boris Johnson's cries for "keep calm and carry on" and "herd immunity" and being in the midst of her Public Health degree.

29:00 - Fiona shares her experience returning to the US through Boston Logan airport including temperature screenings and COVID-19 guidelines.

29:45 - The group discusses new routines they are adjusting to like working and studying from home.

32:00 - Fiona and Natalie talk about the level of unemployment amongst friends and loved ones and Natalie shares her personal experience being furloughed.

33:15 - Hazel & Fiona laugh about some of the fun activities coming out of this whether it be Alexa's Trivial Pursuits or family dance parities.

36:30 - Inevitably, Netflix series, Tiger King, comes up in discussion. The group jokes about it "holding the country together" and then discusses other shows they want to watch together like Sex Education.

37:30 - Fiona & Hazel share their takeaways from the experience thus far. Fiona advises to watch the news sparingly and take things with a grain of salt as well as get outside - at a safe distance - when you can for your mental health. Hazel reflects on the beauty of nature and the gift of less car, traffic and airplane noise to allow us to be more aware of ourselves and our surroundings.


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