By Nancy Bowne
We meet new people each and every single day of our lives. Sometimes these interactions last forever as a friendship, and on most occasions, we might have never even known their name. During the era of Covid-19, these trivial, nurturing relationships are suddenly cut to a minimum. Now you duck away to the other side of the frozen food aisle when another grocery cart comes rolling over. But these small glimpses into other people’s routine lives are what keep us strong and engaged as both local and global citizens.
Before the coronavirus arrived, we all had a vision of a fixed future with plans, events and interactions in mind. I often think about what should have — and would have — happened this semester if it weren’t for the virus. After all, I was just starting college. I feel a bit robbed of the long hours studying in the STEM lounge and even longer hours laughing in the dining hall. But I have come to realize that maybe this is a time to recognize and reflect on new skills and interests.
During the pandemic, I knew that I could do my civic duty by staying at home, wearing a mask and reading meme pages. But I still felt helpless. I could do more. That’s why I found comfort in my roles as news director for WTSR radio and Lions Television. While I didn’t have an “essential job” in society, I could interview people and give these conversations a platform about how they are helping the community during this “unprecedented time” and provide information we could all learn from.
My interest and initiative in journalism has kept me socially active and engaged during social distancing, because it is my way of giving back to the community in a time of social and physical instability. Connecting with people that I might not have otherwise met makes me feel as though this time will be beneficial and uplifting when looking back.
When I interviewed the director of the Trenton Health Team, I gained a better understanding of how we can best mobilize supplies in a local, densely populated area. Suddenly I recognized that not every family could simply purchase staple items or even support their children’s schooling.
I realize that the future was never guaranteed now. Nothing is written in advance except for wills and bills. We need to improvise and create a new future. We often consider what we lost during the pandemic, but I encourage my peers to create new opportunities, new mindsets and new reflections of projects and professional development both for the present climate and for the future.
While I have no clear idea of what I would like to do when it comes to a career, I want to incorporate the key values of journalism: research and information, conversations with a human-centered focus and a deeper sense of public service — all of which have led me to more human connections than ever.