Exploring Who We Are in the Time of COVID-19

By Maria DiFrancesco, March 27, 2020
Program Director Maria DiFrancesco shares her thoughts during the start of our transition to remote classes.

People tell stories. As young children we relish sitting close to family members, friends, and teachers. They tell us fairy tales and legends or read to us from picture books. We learn to listen as those around us recount tales from their own lives. Some may wistfully tell of first loves while others excitedly share stories about epic, cross-country car rides. There are other kinds of stories, too. We hang with bated breath to hear whispered accounts of escaping war, of enduring poverty, and sometimes of those we love dying.

Apropos to this, I remember weeks ago, perhaps over winter break, my 84 year-old father sat telling my 9 year-old son about the Allied Invasion of Europe during World War II. I had heard my father tell many stories about his childhood experiences. He had told me many times, for example, that when he and his friends wanted to play, they would gather their socks, roll them up together, and make a ball large enough so that they could play soccer. But this last December as my father talked, he mentioned something he had never mentioned before. He spoke of having heard artillery fire, of seeing dead bodies along roadsides,  and of the nightmares he had for years as a result of these experiences.

I mention this point for several reasons. The first is that I could not have imagined in December 2019--when my father was telling us these stories--that I would be sitting at home in April 2020 with the rest of my family in quarantine, unable to be on the Ithaca College campus, my home away from home. Neither could I have imagined that my son would be at home with me, finishing fourth-grade as best as he could and with much thanks to a Chromebook borrowed from the local school district. We could not have imagined in December that we would hear so many news reports of death, all related to COVID-19.

To be clear: we are extremely fortunate. We are safe and healthy. We have a comfortable home, ample food, warm beds, and a loving dog that seems to know exactly when we most need to feel the nudge of his nose begging for attention. But days are extremely long, especially when routines we once relied upon--instrument lessons, play dates with friends, visits with family members, outings to parks, church services, and the like--have all become impossibilities. Days are also long because we inevitably hear of friends, colleagues, neighbors, students, and others we care about stricken by the virus or otherwise impacted by job loss and economic suffering.  

In such circumstances, we do what we can, and in this spirit, the Exploratory Team decided to start the Exploring @ IC blog. We hope to tell our stories in this space, and through our stories, we hope to participate in making history. Some of our stories will be told in words, others will be pictorial. Whatever shape they take, our hope is always to reflect our connectedness to each other, to Ithaca College, and to our ideals as members of the Exploratory Program.