The Threads that Join Us

RachelWang

by Rachel Wang, student

We are living in an age where terms like “social distancing” and “lockdown” are no longer so foreign to us. Somehow, in the past year, these terms have managed to weasel their way into all of our conversations, burrow themselves into the seams of our society, and find indefinite residence in our lives. We have probably all, at one point or another these last 12 months, found ourselves in public settings where we instinctively flinched and backed away when we felt like our oh-so-important 6ft barrier had been breached.

In such times, it is so easy to feel alone. Solely from a “definition” standpoint, the term “social distancing” is meant to be isolating (for the good of everyone, of course, considering SARS-COV2’s airborne nature). However, there needs to be a clearer distinction between “physical” distancing, and “emotional” or “mental” distancing. It is one thing to not pack ourselves like sardines in a subway or concert, but we need to ensure that this definition of distancing does not also extend to the ways in which we are able to connect emotionally with those around us

With the country-wide suspension of in-person university classes, most of us students have found ourselves holed up back home, with little opportunity to meet old friends or make new ones. Needless to say, this has been challenging. As social creatures, we need human connection in order to thrive and flourish.

This is where Student Open Circles comes in. Student Open Circles has given me, as well as hundreds of others, an avenue for engaging with the community and once again forming those human bonds and connections. In addition to meeting new faces and forming new friendships, my group of volunteers and I have spent the last several months meeting weekly (virtually, of course) to write letters to seniors living in Shalom Village in Hamilton. These are particularly challenging times for the seniors in our community (and across the globe), with COVID-19 disproportionately affecting elders living in long term care homes. I believe that providing any form of support and warmth to them, such as through the words we write, is valuable. It is my hope that the stories and conversations held within our letters bring smiles, laughter and joy to their recipients.

These are challenging times for everyone, and now more than ever, we need to be there for each other and remember that we are not alone. The invisible threads that connect each and every one of us are far more resilient than we think; it’ll take more than 6ft to break them.