Cristi Dragan (M’21), Thao Chi Vu (M’21), and their friend Tushar Advani started the When It’s Over project at the end of March to inspire people to get excited for all they will be able to do again once coronavirus lockdowns end. When It’s Over now has over 13,000 followers on Instagram and has partnered with several organizations including Untold Festival, the largest music festival in Romania, Dragan’s home country.
Dragan’s original idea was a website for people to submit their hopes and dreams that would then be displayed as a “dream cloud.” He explained that the team decided to pivot because “we have no idea how to make websites and Wix doesn’t do that shit. So, Chi came up with the idea of using Instagram.”
The project showcases the little things that are not possible anymore because of the lockdown. The team takes submissions from followers and posts some of their own messages. For Dragan, “the revelation of the quarantine is that we miss the small things. I’m not thinking nonstop about the fact that I want a career in whatever field. I just want to walk on the street. I want to see my mom. […] It’s super day-to-day things we had no idea we [would] ever miss or that they would be taken away from us.”
Vu is the designer of the bright, colorful, and simple Instagram posts. She explained: “We really wanted it to be uplifting […] and we also wanted it to be really simple in terms of design so that the focus is on the message and not on the imagery.” The simplicity also helps the team create and publish posts quickly.
As the community organizer of the team, Advani fosters engagement with Instagram stories, responds to messages, and creates opportunities for conversations with their followers. “It’s not just sharing our posts,” Vu said. “We talk to [our followers] and they share their stories and tell us things that we probably would never know about their lives.” Vu said that these connections are the most rewarding parts of the project for her.
Vu and Dragan ran a session at the virtual Global Continuum at the end of April where they got to talk with professors, staff, and students about their hopes for when the lockdowns end. This experience reminded them that faculty and staff are going through this difficult time as well and are also looking forward to meeting new nieces and nephews, going to favorite restaurants, and spending time with friends and loved ones.
The most surprising part for Advani was the number of people who they have reached: “In eight days we went from our friends and family to 10,000 followers, which was a big thing for all of us.”
The founders have been using their platform to feature other artists and social impact pages. They have a weekly Instagram story segment where they share accounts to follow, including several current and former Minerva students. As Dragan put it, “We’re not in it for the fame. We want to use this platform to help the people around us as well.”
When It’s Over has partnered with Untold Festival, Erasmus, and other organizations to make custom When It’s Over templates. They are also looking for partnerships to raise money for donations to charitable organizations and recently launched a merchandise page to support the Minerva student solidarity fund.
Although the project focuses on the lockdown, the founders see a future for it once life returns to normal. They still want to be a source of hope and positivity, encourage people to try new things, promote activism and volunteering, and help people remember this difficult time.
The team encourages people to reach out to the When It’s Over Instagram account if they have an idea for a partnership or want to be featured on When It’s Over’s Instagram stories.