Corona Virus in Lyon: Home is Where the Community is

Published: 2020/03/17

Isolation can feel….well, isolating! But, what if it didn’t have to be that way? Martina Buchal offers a different perspective, and a call to action on how we can see this circumstance differently.


Allowing Staying at Home To Be a Call to Action for Community


I almost don’t want to call it by name, but the coronavirus epidemic is on everyone’s mind. Rightly so–as a global community its effects are touching us all.

While many people go into voluntary full quarantine, or simply avoid public spaces, others have no choice but to be totally isolated from all human contact. For those of us who have a (healthy) support system living in our own home (whether it be a loving pet, spouse, family, roomates or other), this is inconvenient and potentially very uncomfortable, but at least we have our supports talk to, to connect with, to help ward off the looming fear and paranoia: to help us laugh in a time that could otherwise feel very hard and dark..

“We are born to connect”

We must remember that not everyone is in this situation. Not everyone has the luxury of live-in support and companionship at this time.

You, reading this, as a newcomer to France, an expat, someone who moved to this country for work recently (or not), who potentially has yet to develop the kinds of relationships that keep us warm in the cold times–I’m writing this for you, and for everyone else who may feel that this time alone could spell true emotional and spiritual isolation, or even loneliness.

I’m also writing it for those of us who have the support we need, and want to help others.

Lyon community remote work from home

The plain fact is that we are social creatures, you and I. We are born to connect; wired to bond together; to live and exist in groups, and isolation from our communities can be painful, even devastating.

Holding together, bonding, creating opportunities for connection, can do the opposite.

That, is what I am here to advocate for.

English speaking people in Lyon, a small but growing group

We English speaking foreigners/newcomers/expats are a small-but-growing group here in Lyon. And I believe we have an opportunity, now, to grow closer together; to get to know one another better; and to include others we may not have normally interacted with in building and nourishing a sense of belonging and community.

We can do that, even from our homes, through a computer’s screen (for now). I know, because I do it every day.


My life as a coach involves connecting with my clients remotely every day, via calls and teleconferences.  We build our relationships that way, often from scratch.

It’s incredible how deeply we can connect and get to know one another with the help of technology, plus a little curiosity and openness.

Then, when we get to meet in person, it’s a beautiful moment, where we get to say “I know you from afar–we’ve spoken many times–and yet now I see you fully, and can give you a hug.”

That feels deeply connecting, and deeply human.

“Build relationships among ourselves”

And, to me, it feels that we have this opportunity now as well: to form, hold, and build relationships among ourselves that bring us closer and make us feel the sense of belonging that each and every one of us needs, wants, and sometimes even craves.

Lyon community expert Martinal Buchal

Martina Buchal

So, here is my wish, my hope, my prayer; my affirmation and meditation for us all: 

May this be a moment  that allows us to discover, or rediscover, what truly matters to us. A moment to come together, and grow in love and care for one another; to think outside of ourselves, and realize what community means to us, and to strive boldly to embody that. 

Because, this moment will pass, and when it does, we will all benefit  if we can use this time for reflection and building human connection. I truly believe that. 

Until then, I’ll be looking forward to hugging so many of you. 

For some online / remote resources, and people to reach out to, see below:

– Your number 1 resource for connection can certainly be the Sojoourn expat community. I know Emmanuelle, the founder, well and she is doing her utmost to make sure that support services for expats in Lyon continue. There are also a number of other Facebook groups, including English Speaking Expats, English Mamas, English Professional, and for women, GGI.
– This publication, follow along for inspiring stories, insights, and updates on what’s in our world
– Psychologists, therapists, coaches, friends and family of all kind, who are willing and able to connect online through group chats, video calls, and more.

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