One year ago, I sat in the same kitchen typing about how different my world had become in a few short months. Today, virtual meetings are the norm. Being a work-from-home editor (mom, school teacher and chef) is now commonplace, though still exhausting. And I’m still working on strategies to find work-life balance when work and life all happen in the confines of the same square footage. It seems most share a sense of having adjusted to “COVID normal,” yet yearning for life to be normal-normal again.
But it hasn’t been all bad. We’ve done less running around, enjoyed more family dinners around the table, game nights, movie nights and long walks just to be outside. We’ve participated in and received drive-by birthday parades, encouraging texts and even snail-mail greetings.
No two experiences have been the same for anyone throughout this global pandemic. Worldwide, we have lost millions of people to this virus. But we’ve also seen thousands step up and aid the hurting, hungry and helpless in communities across the globe.
This issue of the Berea College Magazine takes a look at this “gap year,” and how the College and Bereans across the country have responded to, dealt with and flourished in the pandemic. From the early onset when Berea became the first college in Kentucky to close its campus to in-person instruction, to the plans Berea is making for the upcoming fall, the articles in this issue highlight the experiences of our students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends—the good and bad, difficult and uplifting—our stories of support and sacrifice.
You’ll meet three Berea alumnae whose work in the medical and research fields have given them unique perspectives throughout the pandemic. From being on the frontlines in America’s hardest-hit hospitals to diving into new ideas for successful vaccines, the work of these women has been instrumental in helping our country move beyond the pandemic.
You’ll see how our students navigated the difficult decisions of remote learning versus returning to campus and weighed the risks and rewards of both. For student-athletes, there was the added pressure of choosing whether to play the sport they love, in addition to delayed seasons and arduous testing regimens when sports resumed. For other students, decisions hinged on myriad circumstances, and their experiences from Spring 2020 through Spring 2021 varied greatly.
You’ll also read about those outside of the “Berea Bubble,” such as donors who stepped in to provide resources for students making these difficult decisions and transitions, and the way members of the Berea community partnered with the College to provide for all those who needed assistance in the surrounding area.
We are all ready to close the gaps this trying pandemic has placed in our lives and relationships. As we lean toward our new normal, let’s also reflect on both the hardship and the hope that have gotten us this far.
Abbie Tanyhill Darst ’03