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Bright side of 2020

Gazette student columnist feels closer to her community than ever

Student Life | Student View

By Hayley Whelan

The year 2020 has been unforgettable.

Not only have our lives been forever impacted by COVID-19, the way we live and interact with each other has also drastically changed.

I don’t think any of us expected the kind of challenges we faced this year.

However, in my opinion, we have proven our ability to adapt and thrive in spite of it all.

Concern for others

The virus has brought us together in ways that I’ve never experienced before. The concern for others and orderliness that we have demonstrated as a community has been phenomenal.

We have the self-awareness to keep our distance from one another in public places and the patience to wait when a store’s capacity is full.

We proved that we can work together in civil ways with strangers and friends and family alike, to protect our own and others’ well-being in this crisis.

“I have never felt closer to my community, and more like we are all working towards the same goal.”

Despite the virus, we have also managed to keep up with a number of our societal goals, such as reducing our plastic waste. The plastic bag ban has been a big adjustment for some of us, but again, we adapted. Even though, initially, some people felt more plastic bags would be better in terms of reducing the spread of germs, we found ways to manage, such as packing our own groceries.

As a university, we’ve managed to reduce our paper trail by committing everything to online resources. As a community, we’ve been popularizing reusable materials like beeswax paper for storing foods and using metal straws instead of plastic ones.

Those of us living in Newfoundland in January will also remember the aptly titled “Snowmageddon” blizzard that we faced before the virus threat.

We should recognize how we came together during this particularly rough time in our community and were there for one another, such as offering our household grocery supplies to those who needed it.

Co-operate when it matters most

Our successful transition to virtual spaces is another adjustment that we should be proud of.

Every day I receive emails for virtual career fairs, coffee talks and faculty get-togethers. The fact that we have found ways to keep in contact with each other and keep these resources available is outstanding.

I never dreamt that our society could so coherently and devotedly adjust our behaviours together. Our entire way of life has changed in a single year. I have never felt closer to my community, and more like we are all working towards the same goal.

These days when I go out in public, I see members of my community following the public health guidelines of physical distancing and wearing masks – rules that didn’t exist mere months ago.

I wholeheartedly appreciate our collective efforts and our willingness to come together and co-operate when it matters most.

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