I’ve been waiting for a few days wondering what to write, how much to write, when to write, but I suppose there’s no time like the present. As many of you readers, Obies and Obies-to-be alike, know, due to the spread of the coronavirus, Oberlin College has decided to send students home and resume classes online after spring break. I’m not going to talk about the technicalities of the email updates or how long it took me to pack my belongings, but instead my favorite memories and encounters that I’ve seen over the last week. In this time of crisis, Obies showed their true colors, and I’ve never felt prouder to be one!
While having to pack all my things and head on home within a few days may not have been an easy task, a few key factors definitely made it easier. Oberlin provided free boxes to students so we could all pack our things and get them back when we return to campus. Though I didn’t think much about the impact of this when it was announced, looking back I feel grateful that I didn’t have to search every store in the surrounding towns just to buy a few boxes. In times like these, some individuals don’t have the same access to resources as others. The faculty really came through with purchasing boxes, but I was truly in awe at the alums and my fellow classmates and what they were willing to help out with during this period.
Many students offered up rooms in their homes, rides to different parts of the country, help with packing, foodstuffs and cooking supplies to those who are staying in Oberlin, and much more. Students who dine with Campus Dining Services have about $200 in credit per semester to buy miscellaneous things at the grab and go, and I saw friends spend this credit on their peers who were in co-ops and would be staying on campus. One of my classmates knew I had purchased a flight ticket for spring break, and opened their home to me in case I was unable to change my flight.
I got a handful of bittersweet ‘goodbyes’ each day until I left from individuals who I would see again in the fall and from those whom I’m not sure I will see again for a long time. While my last few days on campus were filled with a mix of emotions, it affirmed the fact that I’m happy exactly where I am.
While hanging out with a friend this past weekend, we walked around campus and headed to various spots. Being in Oberlin, I saw familiar faces and always waved or stopped to say hello. As a result, he told me something that stuck with me: “It seems like you know everybody around here.” While I was never one for popularity in high school, the community of Oberlin makes me feel like I’m never alone. Even when I walk around campus by myself, I bump into classmates, mutual friends, neighbors, coworkers, professors, and essentially turn a five-minute walk into a twenty to thirty-minute reunion. I’ve sent music and poetry to professors because I think they’ll appreciate it, and in return I receive an email with their thoughts on the piece. I know most of the people who work in the dining hall by their first name and we greet each other every time we see each other.
My favorite quality about Obies is that we’re friendly. Often, our passionate nature is heavily emphasized, and it holds true, but true friendliness from everyone you see isn’t something you encounter everywhere. This friendliness translated into supportiveness during the last few days on campus, and I’m wholeheartedly grateful for everyone I get to call my peer at Oberlin!
While covid19 will definitely make its way into textbooks 20 years from now, the community and solidarity I feel at Oberlin will be a large part of what I remember. Yes, I miss all my friends in different states and countries; yes, I miss the cool Ohio weather and living on my own, but out of the negative aspects of this situation, it's important to bring to light some positivity. I’m excited to see familiar faces (and fresh faces, too, class of 2024) on campus in the fall, but for now I’ll see y’all on Zoom!