My days at Tufts are markedly peppered with interactions; I’m the kind of person who will intentionally deposit myself in a public space to spend hours of my day alone simply because I like the comfort of being surrounded by people. I like having chance encounters with friends or peers from my classes, and I’m always making lots of plans to be with people while I study or eat.
Now that classes are online, and campus has been emptied due to COVID-19, my days have been whittled down to zoom calls at specific hours, sleeping, eating, and going for socially distant walks with friends. This kind of lifestyle offers little chance to run into people. I can’t sit in public places anymore, and many of my friends are in other parts of the country. It’s become incredibly apparent just how much I depended on common spaces to facilitate my day to day life. The physical vibrancy of campus has disappeared, but I will say that the social vibrancy, though different, is a persistent force that reminds me quite often that I’m still part of a community. Here are some ways that I’ve been staying connected:
So how have I been re-imagining what it means to be part of a community? It’s been difficult – because the way that I find community here isn’t just through my classes, a specific student group, or a select group of friends. Instead, it’s the liveliness of campus: the hello’s and how are you’s that are exchanged in common spaces -- it’s the routines and busyness and the collective understanding of the rhythms of Tufts campus life. That shared sense of togetherness that I feel, though gone for the moment, is what I hold with me when I become sad about these circumstances. And the little instances of how we come together remind me that though we aren’t physically near each other, we’re still a community.