Christine Schoefer: Seeing Globally

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The new world sometimes seems like a shrunken world, thanks to shelter in place. But Christine Schoefer prefers to think globally.

Brazil, India, South Africa – the COVID number count has me thinking globally. I want to picture how the virus is spinning its world wide web.

I’m a context person. In the age of digital time keeping, I still wear a watch. That’s because when I glance down to pinpoint an exact moment, I like seeing the other hours and minutes on the watch face. Past, present and future all at once, the sense of possibility.

In this era of mapquesting, my car’s glove compartment is stuffed with paper maps. I love to unfold a map to look at deserts and forests, mountains and cities. Tracing a route with my finger feels like a little dress-rehearsal for the real journey which will take so much longer.

As much as I appreciate a virtual guide helping me navigate a travel itinerary, I still want to know how a route relates to the larger terrain. Driving, I like to keep in mind the roads not taken, the grid of towns that remains hidden, the rivers I can’t see from the freeway. Steering toward a destination, I’m aware that there are many places I’m not going.


My stepfather was passionate about geography. Shortly before he died, he told me about a dream project – putting a world globe in every classroom, from Kindergarten to graduation. Children would grow up having a sense of location. They would know which countries are far away and which ones are close. They’d see their hometown as a speck, their country as one of many. They would know that the Earth is more water than land.

Our enthusiastic endorsement of globes culminated in our agreement that seeing and understanding a spherical representation of the world would foster a sense of connection. Would this not contribute to peace?

Today, I want to know what COVID is up to, not just in my city and my country, but everywhere around the globe. A virus is a frightening way to be connected, to be sure. And yet, it is a non-negotiable reminder that we are.

With a Perspective, I’m Christine Schoefer.

Christine Schoefer is a writer and educator.