Written by Sara Garfinkle
COVID-19 has taken many things from Hillsdale College students, but it has also brought some unexpected blessings. By focusing on these blessings, I can more easily manage the great losses. These five blessings are those that I focus on the most.
1. Time with family. My Spring Break was supposed to be highly productive. I planned to finish a Collegiate Scholars thesis and progress on a different thesis for rhetoric honors and do homework and catch up on reading and… I accomplished about half of what I set out to during the weeklong break. I prioritized spending time with my family instead of my school work. I’m glad I did. I’m even more glad that I don’t have to choose between spending time with my family and spending time with my classwork. Now, learning and working from home means home-cooked meals, a usually-available washing machine, and study breaks occupied by Sheldon and Lucy, my two (spoiled) dogs.
2. Learning opportunities. Much of higher education utilizes and, in many cases, relies on virtual learning programs. Hillsdale does not. As I prepare for graduate school and a lifelong career, I am grateful that I can successfully navigate online learning and communication platforms.
3. Fabulous creativity. Members of Hillsdale’s Student Activities Board have taken this unfortunate opportunity to unleash their most creative activities yet. In SAB Goes Viral, a virtual campus engagement campaign, SAB challenges students to stay fit with virtual workouts and running clubs, try new things like black-out poetry and cooking, and foster their love of the College. Each week, the student who participates the most receives a gift card to a local business.
4. Reminders of what it means to be Hillsdalians. Each day, friends and classmates choose to learn together, choose to stay in touch, choose to write letters and video chat and share fond memories on social media and relentlessly encourage one another. Some days—and I speak from personal experience here—it is not easy to choose these things. It would be easy to think of this extended time with family as a break, as an invitation to slack off in classes and focus on home life instead. But we know that the easy choice is often not the right choice. We choose, each day, to be Hillsdalians, to love and learn from one another. We choose to do these things because they are good and because they are important. We choose to cultivate our characters. And speaking of character—
5. Dr. Arnn’s messages on character. “This is a test of character and intellect of the kind that shapes human souls and portrays them in their excellence,” he said in an address on March 20. This address, shared by hundreds of students and faculty across various social media outlets, reassured and inspired the College’s constituents as well as urged them to use their time well. “We are going to use this time to the maximum effect,” Dr. Arnn said. In an address on March 27, he continued the conversation. He shared the success of online learning thus far and said, “Don’t make any mistake; we’re not confused that this is not as good” as learning together in person. After updating viewers on the state of the College, he reminded us of the essential thing. He reminded us what Hillsdalians do in crises. “Use this time to improve your character and your intellect,” he urged. “I promise to do my best to do the same. God bless you and be safe in this crisis.”
Sara Garfinkle, ’20, studies Rhetoric, Pulic Address, and Hebrew. She plans to be a speechwriter and teacher after graduation. Until then, you can find her baking bread, watching science fiction shows, going on adventures with her Pi Phi sisters, and pranking her younger brother Ben.