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World, we're going to be okay.

I stopped by my office yesterday afternoon: checked my mail, threw away the last dead plant, re-assessed my cleaning supplies, and turned on the computer to load the updates. I know one day I’ll be meeting with students face-to-face again, but for now my tiny bright office simply serves as a change of scenery—and a reminder that for the work I do, location does not matter.

This summer I have not had to work around vacations, summer job schedules, or camp dates. Instead, my students have been available and eager for structure. They show up on my computer screen, on time and willing to chat. A couple of weeks ago I started a conversation with the typical “How are you?” to quickly learn that she was the only one in her family who had not yet tested positive and shown symptoms of COVID-19. Everyone was quarantining in their own rooms, and she was the designated UberEats point person. Yet we continued our session; she read her college essay aloud to me, we discussed how to make some parts clearer and we consulted her list of core values to make sure her essay reflected them.

Core values are pretty easy to discover during a pandemic, as are passions and interests. The time away from friends, extended family, and the world has been challenging—for sure—but the time these teenagers spend reflecting on who they are and what matters to them is strengthening this generation. They have time to think about how their unique self can plug into a community that needs their enthusiasm, kindness, and innovation. Their essays have made me laugh, gasp, and think. I simply cannot wait to read more. World, we’re going to be okay.

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