From Our Scholar Blogs:

Vuochnear’s Unexpected Year

Vuochnear’s Unexpected Year

Vuochnear Ly, a recent graduate from Gettysburg College, wrote her blog about her experiences in 2020, which ranged from an immersion trip in Texas to a quarantined graduation celebration.

2020 started off as a great year. I attended a wonderful leadership training organized by SHE-CAN and I learned about immigration at the U.S.-Mexican border on my Gettysburg College immersion trip in El Paso, Texas. 

During both experiences, I gained leadership skills and learned about social justice issues that I intend to use in the future as a diplomat. January gave me so much optimism, hope, and excitement for the rest of 2020 and beyond. Yet…

My immersion trip in El Paso!

Three months into 2020, the U.S. and the world faced the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, which infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands of people globally, in addition to badly affecting the world’s economy. Not only has COVID-19 had tangible impacts on the world, it has also had tremendous impacts on people’s emotional and mental well-being. It is a very challenging time for almost everyone and it is difficult to cope with what is going on in the world as well as within one’s own family. 
Like the rest of the world, I have never faced such a challenging time in my life. Knowing that my school’s campus was closing and my senior year was going to end with virtual classes, I was perplexed. My dreams and hopes that I had had at the beginning of the year were suddenly taken away, leaving my life after graduation uncertain. 
However, things have turned out to be more positive than I had anticipated. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, I have gotten incredible support from my family, the SHE-CAN community, and my friends. A few days before Gettysburg closed, my SHE-CAN sisters, Chakriya and Nich, helped me pack and move out of my dorm room. It was nice that we could all comfort each other during this difficult and emotional time. 

My supportive mentors: Michelle, Cynthia, Libby and Kristin

Additionally, I will never ever forget the generosity and care I received from my SHE-CAN mentor team. Each one of them constantly checked in on me to make sure I was doing okay during the crisis. My dear mentor Kristin immediately offered to help by getting me a flight to San Francisco and allowing me to stay with her. It has been 14 weeks now that I have been sheltering in place with her. 
Kristin and I have had spent a lot of quality time doing different activities together, from cooking to dancing to learning about finance and investment. We’ve also passed the time doing puzzles, attending online events, gardening, watching movies, and discussing various aspects of our lives. 
We have built a stronger relationship during this difficult time. One memory I will never forget was when Kristin read the book titled Who Moved My Cheese?It was the perfect time to read the book as it gave us perspective on how to adapt to the changes COVID-19 has brought and taught us how to navigate our lives as we move forward. The way Kristin has handled the whole situation has taught me that no matter how strange, abrupt, or unprecedented life can be, we are in control of how we react. 
Despite the circumstances, my mentors did not forget to celebrate one of my biggest achievements: college GRADUATION. They all remotely joined a graduation ceremony organized by SHE-CAN to ensure that my special day would not go unnoticed. 
My mentor Cynthia made me a “Congratulations” banner that Kristin surprised me with, and my mentor Michelle provided a house full of balloons and love. I am forever grateful and will always cherish that special moment. 

My quarantined graduation was still special!


Hanging out with Sreileak

During the quarantine, I have also spent time with my dear friend, Sreileak Hour. We have been cooking, watching tv shows, and reflecting on our lives and time in the U.S. I don’t know when we’ll get to spend quality time together like this again, but I do know that I am grateful to have her as a friend for life. 
As I reflect on the last few months, I have come to realize all of the positive things that are happening in my life despite the many uncertainties. Even though it didn’t go as I expected, the pandemic hasn’t ruined my 2020!