Day 298

It has been around 10 months since I’ve been on campus. There’s a possibility I will be back in 22 days. It is because of this upcoming arrival that I have found myself reflecting on my time during the pandemic and what role Holy Cross has played in it. There is no doubt that there have been challenges and difficulties of all kinds and varying intensities for people from all walks of life. No one was able to escape the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but hopefully my fall semester recap and this reflection provides helpful insight on student life within the Holy Cross community during remote learning and what I’ve taken away from my experiences.

I was in Dinand Library studying for a midterm when Father Boroughs sent out the email explaining to students and faculty that we were to leave campus by Saturday and take a week or more break before classes were reconfigured into an online format. Watching the reactions of other students also studying will always be a surreal moment to me due to the spectrum of emotions I witnessed and how unprecedented that situation was. A few days later, I packed my dorm room up and said goodbye to my friends, unaware of how long it would be again until I stepped foot on campus and just what shape my education was going to take.

When online learning truly began, I was amazed at just how much work my professors had put into adjusting their course plan to accommodate these drastic changes that had occurred. Personally, I have had very fair and understanding experiences in my coursework and interaction with my professors throughout remote learning. They have shown sympathy for the difficulties that come with the online format and worked hard to still maintain an interesting and challenging semester. I do not wish to speak to all students’ experiences, but this is what I personally found.

Before the fall semester started I had luckily been able to extract some helpful strategies from my experiences with remote learning in the spring. I kept myself on a strict routine and tried to treat each as normal as I could. Now I couldn’t replicate waking up for an 8am class and walking across campus in the middle of winter, but I certainly could get up at the same time and find something to do that filled up what would usually be a 30 minute routine. I found that my participation in class had actually increased due to the fact that it was some of my more major socialization within quarantine. That may sound crazy but I found it to be true and it honestly was a positive. And above all, still going to office hours with my professors on Zoom. Occasionally I even turned to YouTube and other sources if I really was struggling to understand concepts or get a better grip on a reading. That is what I took away academically from this online experience.

Socially, the remote format is not optimal obviously. As I mentioned, class becomes somewhat of a focal point of socialization in my experience. However, study groups did form overtime and “break out rooms” on Zoom during class were opportunities to meet other students. I stayed in touch with friends through FaceTime, Xbox Live, and Discord primarily; I’ve heard a million different ways people have stay connected. Feeling connected to Holy Cross was, and has been, difficult throughout the pandemic. With sports cancelled and most other activities also temporarily on hold, the distance was hard to ignore. However, it was always exciting to discuss the possibility of going back with friends, every email sparking debate.

One beacon of hope I found was Dr. Anthony Fauci. A former alumni of Holy Cross, his daily appearances on the COVID-19 press conferences and numerous interviews were a consistent reminder of the HC community. His work through tremendous adversity was inspiring. I saw other sources of inspiration throughout our community as well. Many current students, alumni, and faculty found ways to show support and further the Black Lives Matter movement courageously in very tumultuous times. I even remember a student being interviewed by a Boston news station for creating a charity car wash in response to the Beirut Explosion this year, giving away all proceeds to help in relief to all those affected. While these have been trying times, I found strength and motivation from my fellow student and Holy across community members and all that they have done to help those who need it. It is by following the mission statement of Holy Cross to be “men and women for and with others”, our community has stayed connected. Remote learning has provided a plethora of challenges at varying levels for each individual, but ultimately it has been the community values instilled in us that continue to form a sense of camaraderie.