By Rob Sanchez
It was Sunday, March 1st. The Cornell in Rome program was scheduled to be in Naples in the middle of our Southern Italy Field Trip that day. At this point, we all had received the devastating news that Cornell was flying us back home on Thursday. Some of us had already booked flights a day or two in advance of that. That morning, though, I woke up to an email urging all Cornell in Rome students to leave as soon as possible. I spent the morning packing up the life I had just started getting used to, a life I was starting to fall in love with. That afternoon I was on a flight to London, the next morning on a flight home to Los Angeles.
It’s been over a month since I returned been home and just wrapped up my third week of online classes. It’s been tough. I’ve had a lot of time to process what happened to me, what happened to us, and what is happening to our world. Myself and many others have felt an overwhelming range of emotions throughout this ordeal: anger, anxiety, frustration, confusion, numbness, and sadness, to name a few.
I’d like to begin by thanking all involved parties from Cornell in Rome and AAP for demonstrating their commitment to student’s safety and wellbeing. They were responsible for making impossibly difficult decisions to help facilitate our safe arrivals home, our transition to online learning, financial circumstances, and so much more.
It hasn’t been easy adjusting to this different type of learning. Especially for Cornell in Rome participants, as the disciplines of Architecture and Urban Planning rely heavily on the use of a studio space to complete work effectively. Having navigated the system for 3 weeks now, I can say that there has been some bumps in the road. Everyone has unique living situations in which some lend themselves more easily to this transition than others. In my view, empathy should be our guiding and paramount principle as we work through these tough times.
Now more than ever, we need to be kind and show each other compassion. We have all lost greatly from this pandemic. We are all grieving and coping in different ways. Some of us are throwing ourselves into our work, some of us are binging Tiger King on Netflix, some of us are merely trying to get into a quarantine-routine to keep us going. As for now, all we can ask of ourselves is to stay safe and healthy and be hopeful that we will see the light at the end of the tunnel soon. I’m sure all of us Cornell in Rome participants are greatly looking forward to the day we can reunite back on campus.