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March 2021 Highlight- A Year of COVID-19, a Retrospective

March 26, 2021

March 13th, 2020 was the last time I was in the 8th floor office, and this same story is echoed for many of us who work, study, and learn inside of the AOSS building. It is one year later, a year that has brought stress, uncertainty, missed opportunities, and loss to many within our department. There is no number of condolences I or anyone could give to make up for those feelings, but the effort is something worth trying. Anniversaries are typically the hardest points in recovery, and this month has been challenging on many of us even with the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

It has been a year of immense change. Usual AOS rituals have been disrupted, with something as simple as talking in the building elevators no longer an option. Department colloquiums and seminars have been moved to an online space, and attempts to have weather watch meet in person have had some mixed results. Classes have not been held in the building since COVID-19 protocols have been put in place, leaving lounges and meeting rooms empty. Even the simple things, talking with friends and colleagues while walking to Weather Watch, popping into offices, and getting coffee before seminars, all of it has been disrupted.

I could mention how all these normal practices have been adapted and modified for a pandemic, how we have created new online spaces to meet and socialize (special shoutouts to our grad and undergrad groups as well as Pete Pokrandt for really pushing those meetings), and how our department has continued to be resilient in the face of a challenging year. However, I feel it important to also acknowledge what hasn’t been there and sympathize with the struggles of things not being normal.

To everyone in the AOS community, I commend you for your strength and your willingness to adapt, and I also hope you are being kind to yourself in these difficult times. You have endured a global event that has brought unbelievable amounts of pain and suffering. That alone is something worth celebrating.

We’ll be seeing each other around AOSS soon. Until then, thanks for reading.

-Megan Caldwell, AOS Student Hourly