On Being a Pandemic Student

Words like unprecedented and “new normal” have been floating around for over a year now. They have infiltrated not only our vocabulary but our lives. For most, the pandemic changed everything and for many college students, that was no exception. With campuses closed or limiting guests, our focus as the College and Young Adult Ministry at Good Sam was shifted.

How can we care for our students that have grown up here or are living in this area; The ones that were not supposed to be here; Who is caring for them? 

This year has turned academics and the college experience on its head. And while it has had its challenges, there have been many small blessings for us and our students. With many schools making the decision to cancel Spring Break in favor of a couple “Wellness Days” scattered throughout the semester, we decided to make Spring Break-in-a-Box care packages to let our students know they have not been forgotten in this strange season. Praise the Lord we were able to send 25 care packages to our scattered students. With the weather warming up we have been able to resume meeting in person for weekly hangouts and vespers. But, don’t just take my word for it. Here are a two of the students’ stories in their own words…

Allie’s Story
Prior to the global pandemic, my plans for the year were to live in the dorms at Temple and spend my free-time participating in extracurricular activities, exploring the city, or simply going to the dining hall to catch up with my friends about everyday life. Yet, just like everyone else this year, my plans drastically changed.  
This past academic year has been anything but ordinary for me as a sophomore in college. All of my classes have been conducted from my bedroom in Delaware County, my extracurricular activity is working part-time at a Five Below, and my social interaction with friends in-person has been limited. Although this year has not been ideal, I would not trade this experience for the world. Despite the challenges I have faced, I have been able to form many friendships, join new organizations both in-person and online, and focus more on growing in my faith.
Besides building friendships at work and joining college organizations via Zoom, the Good Samaritan College Ministry has been such a wonderful support system for me this past school year. When I first made the decision to live at home, I knew I wanted to find a sense of community during my sophomore year and the college ministry has been the perfect place for me. Each Monday evening, I take a break from my hectic schedule and drive over to the church… whether we are chatting in the commons or catching up in the office lounge, it’s always nice to take an hour in the day to talk about my week with familiar faces that offer me prayers and support. 
I am beyond grateful I have had the opportunity to join this ministry during my year at home and I hope when I return to college in the Fall that I will be able to stay in touch with the members.

Ashley’s Story
I came to Church of the Good Samaritan about a year and a half ago when I was going through a very difficult point in my life and decided to take a break from college for personal reasons. One of my biggest fears in making that decision was losing all sense of community that I had gained through college. 
A sense of community has always been important to me and has been something I have struggled to find in the past. I was quickly assured this would not be the case and was amazed by the doors that God opened up for me by bringing these groups into my life. 
I have been lucky enough to be a part of both [the college and young adult] groups and have been able to meet people who are my age and are in a similar life stage to me right now so that I can make connections with people and know that I’m not alone. 
Even through the pandemic, which wasn’t on my radar when my biggest fear was losing community, I was able to be a part of these groups and connect with people in different ways while being safe at home, which I know was a struggle for everyone. 
Though my life has changed in the past year as everyone’s has, these groups are something that have stayed consistent. I have since taken a life path that had me move to Florida a few weeks ago and the college group has still found ways to help me feel included and a part of the group even if I can’t be sitting 6 feet away from them every week. 
Thanks to these groups I know that I will always have a community that I belong to no matter where God may take me.”