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Greetings From Auckland

When I boarded a plane to New Zealand a month ago, I didn’t realize that I was embarking on a one-way trip.

I knew that traveling while an epidemic was going global wasn’t ideal, but the thought of seeing a loved one after months apart was too compelling to cancel my flight. Only mere hours after I walked through arrivals, the Prime Minister announced the closing of borders, effective immediately. The country went on full lockdown a few days later. My flight home was canceled and I settled in to stay in place in Auckland for the foreseeable future.

Since then, I’ve been attempting to adapt to a world gone virtual, while fighting to remain present in the place I am. My classes, chats with friends, and church community meetings have all moved online. My screen time has spiked, against my will. But I try to get outside every day, on a run or my skateboard. I go say hello to the sheep and cows in the nearby fields. I sit in the neighborhood park for longer than usual, grateful for the ways that public space is serving my community in times like these.

It’s brought me great joy to see that the required “social distancing” of these days hasn’t stopped people from acting as caring friends, classmates, co-workers, and family members. People in my circle have been obeying the recommendations to stay home, but they have shown up to their relationships with more intentionality than ever. I’ve been smiling as I watch recorded CEP lectures, my peers and instructors checking in on each other, introducing the class to their roommates and pets. I have realized that community isn’t limited to the constraints of physical space. Despite my many gripes against today’s high-speed world, I have been thankful for the way technology has facilitated real human interaction amid this crisis.

I hope you all are feeling cared for at this time. I hope you have relationships that have shown perseverance through the challenge of distance, and that you feel connected to others, albeit in a new way. I hope you are finding things that bring you levity every day, giving yourself grace as the times change, and taking time to feel the grass under your feet. Stay well.

Sydney Solis
CEP Class of 2020