By: Kiera Mitru
There’s a saying that goes something like, “the days are long, but the time is short”. This saying takes shape in many chapters of our lives, but the sentiment has never proved to be more true than it does during one’s time in college. While there are days and assignments that feel eternal, the end of the semester always rolls around before we know it. We all know that moment when our hearts are heavy with a bittersweet feeling, carrying our bags to the car, returning home for yet another break. Even if waiting for time to pass in your hometown feels like it will last forever, the days pass in the same “wow that was fast” way that reminds us of what we may or may not have accomplished during our time away from school.
For each of us, every semester poses new challenges and opportunities to learn from, this past semester being no exception. Both on campus and off campus, the Siena Community engaged in conversation discussing the importance of voting, following safety measures put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and the obstacles posed by virtual classrooms. Learning communities across the world have had to make substantial changes to even the smallest details of their campuses in order to safely accommodate their students and faculty. Here at Siena, one of these changes is most directly reflected in the length of our Winter Break.
Instead of taking the traditional 4-week pause between semesters, Siena announced that our Winter Break would last from Thanksgiving through mid-February in order to prevent the projected second wave of the COVID spread. As the scheduling change was announced, I began to dread what would add up to almost 3 months away from school, but quickly changed my tune after settling in at home.
For the months that we would be home, I was hired at a local supermarket and worked full-time in order to keep myself busy (and also to save some money). Having worked in the same store during the summer, returning to the strong workplace team I had grown close to was a sort of homecoming. Amidst a global pandemic, my coworkers have never failed to bring optimism and intention to their work, which translates into our essential service to the community. Some days have been harder than others, but each day has proved to me that essential workers are named appropriately, due to the fact that their service is not only necessary but vital to our society as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Outside of work I engaged my culinary talent with new cookbooks and flavor combinations. While I didn’t get around to cooking and baking as much as I would have liked to, I kept my Instagram page @CookingUpSomethingFun updated with new treats I had been experimenting with. Some of which included French puff pastry, eggplant parmesan, homemade granola bars, traditional focaccia bread shaken up with some beet root powder, Ina Garten’s classic shortbread, pecan brittle, countless pots of beans, homemade dumplings, and so much more. My work over the stove offers a creative and intentional space to bring my ideas to life. Since most of my family members are working from home, I could always count on them to give a quick taste test of whatever I constructed in the kitchen, none of them sparing their brutally honest reviews.
In my few spots of free time I also turned to music as a creative outlet. I have always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, and finally set out on that journey over the course of our long Winter Break. In my case and in millions of others, music has played a crucial role in our movement through the pandemic. In a time where we have to remain physically separated, music brings us together as we celebrate traditions, reminisce on brighter times, connect to lyrics, and enjoy the artistry we find in our favorite songs. Thanks to the pandemic, my Spotify account is now riddled with specific and engaging playlists to share with friends or enjoy in the background of those more quiet moments.
I also had the opportunity to present my English capstone thesis, “Viewing Audre Lorde’s Uses of the Erotic by the Light of a Biblical Blaze” during the virtual Capital District Feminist Studies Conference hosted by Russell Sage College. Alongside some of my fellow Siena Saints, I had the opportunity to record a presentation of my culminating paper and engage in a Q&A session with conference attendees. Throughout the day of the conference, the audience actively participated in presentations hosted by local feminist scholars for insight and empowerment. As a college student and a passionate advocate for Social Justice, this conference was a celebration of the work that has been done in this field, as well as that which has yet to be completed in the fight for Social and Racial Justice.
As my mind is framed in terms of semesters, at the end of every 3-month-long chunk of time, I enjoy reflecting on the lessons, connections, and inspirations that fill the days as they pass. It’s fair to say that the past year has challenged us to consider time in a new and intuitive way, calling us to appreciate positive moments above all else. As I watch the final grains of sand sifting through the Winter Break hourglass, I find myself cherishing these same moments of kindness, of intention, of shared joy, of meaning, and so on in the context of my time away from school. Somewhere between those days where I could feel the minutes as they passed and those days where the sunset prematurely washed over the sky, I came to realize that moments of rest and solitude are necessary. There is no telling of all the opportunity for refreshment and inspiration bubbling under the surface of a moment of free time. Looking forward to greeting the beginning of the Spring 2021 semester this month, may we continue to cherish moments of positivity even on our busiest days, and incorporate intentional rest into our deepest routines.