Powerful Perspectives of the Pandemic
The authors of this exhibit:
- Elisa Aguilera (Engineering Management), St. Mary's University
- Aurora Torres (History), St. Mary's University
COVID-19 AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
Everyone has experienced the COVID-19 pandemic differently. To see some of these different perspectives, we talked to students and employees around campus to see how they felt, how the pandemic affected them and what they were able to do to continue thriving. Compiling these different points of view, we found several commonalities - events, daily meetups, and traditions had to be modified to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Students and staff experienced the pandemic in lots of different ways, and we bring their stories together here. Some people chose to share pictures, other wrote their stories down and others even used their voice to share how the pandemic made them feel. We wanted to bring together stories that weren't widely known.
During the pandemic, some people faced unemployment, others faced isolation from activities, and others faced digital learning. These are just some examples of circumstances people had to face because of the pandemic. At St. Mary's University, staff, professors, and students did everything they could to confront these challenges. Professors taught online, authorities made possible hybrid classes, students get vaccinated to be able to attend class, and staff made possible in-person events little by little. The community did all of things these because they wanted to be together to face these problems as a whole. Even though we knew the pandemic was something that we couldn't stop, St. Mary's staff tried their best to make everything possible, even if that meant Zoom classes, pausing certain services, and talking through a screen all the time.
Since the pandemic happened and is still ongoing, so many things have not been the same since or will ever be the same again. People are living a completely different life because they are not going out of their houses on normal basis, some are not working anymore or are working inside their homes, some others are struggling with a deadly disease. Many people were impacted by this pandemic in different ways that their lives have changed completely. Some lost their jobs and had no resources for paying bills, providing food, or event attending school. For some students going back home was an issue because they did not have any funds. St. Mary’s University raised money to help students get back home and the school reached this goal and helped students get back to their families. Other students, who are employed by St. Mary’s University, were able to get vaccinated or get weekly COVID-19 testing on campus.
Throughout the pandemic students had to live a different college experience. They had to adjust to using face masks in every classroom. Classrooms were not full, and some classes were hybrid which meant that some students were in person and some others were connected through Zoom. As the pandemic was evolving little by little, we noticed the different experiences new students were having in St. Mary’s University. For example, Greek Week became part of the students’ life once again in Fall 2021 and some employees were able to go back in person to work but with weekly COVID-19 testing.
With the help from programs, churches, professors, and staff coming together, many people and students got the help and resources that they needed to continue surviving through this pandemic. For example, communities helped with clothes and food to those who were struggling with it, and professors adapted and were more lenient with their students and their assignments.
During the ongoing pandemic, we wanted to collect different voices regarding COVID-19 and know what has happened to them or what has changed since the pandemic hit the U.S. We collected perspectives from professors who had to learn a new way of teaching to religious people that had to hear God's calling during a pandemic. Hearing their voices and interviewing them really changes one's feeling as you capture their thoughts in the interview. Knowing that there were people struggling like us made us realized that we were not alone and that this pandemic was impacting each one of us. During the pandemic, some lost loved ones, some got sick, some got depression, and all of it was hurtful to hear and know. St. Mary's community suffered all of these things from international students who had to learn through a screen from their own countries to staff who had to be in their houses when people were detected with COVID-19 on campus. But all of it was worth it because St. Mary's have been able to live through the pandemic following the guidelines needed to keep the community safe.
In these two interviews, we met up with a local and an international professor. Both professors were concerned about two important things -- people’s physical health, and students’ mental health. Both mentioned how they were lenient with their students because they did not want to put pressure on them, but they also mentioned that they also cared about their students learning the material during the course. Both were also in agreement about learning how to teach online was a skill they gained during the ongoing pandemic. It does not matter where you come from but the values you have and the importance you give to the people from your community.
St. Mary's University Traditions
Like every college, St. Mary's University also has its own traditions. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of events and traditions had to be canceled or done through Zoom during the 2019-2020 academic year. The fall semester of 2021 brought a lot of hope and spirit to the St. Mary's community as more in-person events and traditions were planned again. COVID-19 guidelines still had to be followed but students and staff were happy to see these events come back or even see new traditions formed. Following the COVID-19 guidelines meant always wearing facemasks, using gloves when touching any kind of food (it did not matter if it was already packaged), and keeping social distance when attending the events. Continuing the Heritage and Burgers with the Brothers are two examples of events that returned in Fall 2021. Once again, the campus community could come together to build community and see the brothers again. These events were special for all the attendees, students, staff and Marianist brothers.
Why is all of this important?
We believe that every story matters. Because of this, we chose to bring in different perspectives on the pandemic from within our community. As students at St. Mary’s University, we think that is important to hear people’s story to connect in a deeper way. One way to start building up a community is to hear your peers’ issues, and going through hard times in group makes it easier. Weathering the storm together helps the community feel more connected.
We have not experienced all of the negative consequences of the pandemic, such as unemployment, unable to do service, learning of digital options, etc. However, this is the reason why we wanted to share these stories with the world and raise awareness about what people have experienced during the pandemic. By bringing together stories of students and faculty, we hope you can connect with these stories too. We want the St. Mary’s community to be aware that they are not alone, and that if we unite, we can get more done.