April 8, 2020
I love my house and my neighborhood. I truly do. I am very lucky that during this time of quarantine I have a comfortable home with space for my husband and me to set up home offices. We have food, an outdoor deck, a big yard and miles of nearby wooded paths to walk the dog. It’s relatively easy to remain physically distant from others and still roam a bit to stave off boredom and stretch our legs.
But I miss my other “home." That home along the Red Cedar, under the careful eye of The Spartan, in the shadows of Beaumont Tower, next to Spartan Stadium where you can almost hear echoes of “Go Green! Go White!” Sure, it’s the place I work, but it also holds a place in my heart.
Before I started working at MSU, we would come to campus for games, shows or just to wander around and I would think, “Wouldn’t it be cool to come to this beautiful place every day for your job?” And even on the hardest, longest workdays, it still is pretty dang cool.
This weekend we decided to get in my car and drive the few miles to campus with the dog to take in the sights of that other home of mine. I hadn’t been to campus in three weeks. I didn’t go in any buildings and only glanced up at my office window in Olds Hall. An evening walk along the river and a stop by The Spartan was a great emotional boost to why I do the work I do, even when I’m feeling tired and overwhelmed.
Earlier in the week, I was talking with my husband about the unfairness of everything happening in the world because of the pandemic. The loss of life, jobs, relationships, events and more. The undue stress so many of us are under to work longer and harder to meet changing needs. I’ll admit to a bit of a panic attack as it all hit me. He put a note on my desk, “It is what it is.” He reminded me so much is out of my control, but it’s how I react to it that matters. Getting out and visiting campus (safely and away from others), while getting some exercise was a really good reaction.
While there is so much we can’t control, as my husband noted, it’s how we react. And wow, Spartans are reacting in so many incredible ways. We’ve had to adapt to some major changes, like moving summer session online or finding ways to move volunteer programming to a virtual space. Spartans are using their expertise and willingness to pitch in to help companies, collect needed supplies and make medical equipment like face shields. We’re even leading projects to expand the use of convalescent plasma in the treatment of COVID-19.
Chris Gray, director of the MSU Veterinary Medical Center, has had to find creative ways to continue to treat animals and keep employees safe. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Hearing from heroes, to learn why he says, “everyone — Spartans, veterinarians, animal owners, students and the public — can come together in a crisis by making adjustments and finding solutions.” Spartan veterinarians are the best.
And our students are the best too. Elizabeth Eckenrode is a student in the Master of Arts in Educational Technology program and an English as an additional language instructor for 6th grade at an international school in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She had to drastically change her teaching style to online learning during the outbreak.
She has some great insights in her STUDENT VIEW: Student well-being in the times of COVID-19, like, “When you begin to make the shift that less is more, and try to bring some more life into your call, online learning gets significantly better.” Her true Spartan compassion shines brightly when she notes, “Our hearts are bleeding for all of the kids we can’t reach and for all of the kids who desperately need us. This is a challenging time for all stakeholders in education — it’s okay to go easy on ourselves right now.”
It is what it is. None of us, not even the powerful Spartan nation, can change what it is. But we can adapt, care, donate our time, use our expertise in new ways, teach and look out for each other. These are unprecedented, scary times. If you can, take a break to regroup and look at something that inspires you. Breathe some fresh air and look for the good in the world. No one is perfect and everyone will have really tough moments. There’s no one way to do anything right now. Things will be missed. Mistakes might be made. Deadlines might pass. It’s OK. You’re OK. Let’s remember to do what we can and that includes going easy on ourselves. #SpartansWill.