Submitted by Divya Bhargava
As vaccination rates increase worldwide, overseas travel is now an option for vaccinated passengers with a negative COVID-19 test result. The pandemic prevented many families from visiting each other and connecting, it’s understandable why some students at SPA decided to travel for Thanksgiving or plan on doing so during Winter Break.
For senior Divya Bhargava, visiting Delhi last month was an important moment of connection for both herself and her parents. While over the course of the pandemic, she has had the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with her immediate family, she understands that her mother and father did not have the same privilege of spending in-person time with their own parents. With her Thanksgiving trip marking the first time she has been united with her parents, grandparents, and younger brother all at once since the pandemic began, she understood how meaningful the visit would be, and made sure not to take any moments for granted.
Even the most simple activities, such as having tea together every morning or playing cards, were especially enjoyable when they were together. “We mostly just spent time at my grandparents’ house, because we were staying with them, and we just went to spend time with them,” Bhargava said.
In addition to using the week-long break for a long-awaited reunion, Bhargava also took advantage of the opportunity to explore other parts of India. She traveled to Amritsar for a day, a popular tourist location known for religious monuments like Sri Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple.
Richardson’s oldest sister, Sadie, is a junior in college majoring in Spanish at the University of Notre Dame whose semester abroad began in August this year. For his first trip by plane since COVID-19 and travel restrictions began, he was able to visit Sadie and also see Madrid and Toledo for the first time. Although he enjoyed the time spent with his sister, the tourism and exploration the trip entailed were also highlights of the trip.
“Because we’ve never been to Spain before, it was mostly about seeing what’s there, but obviously it was to catch up with her,” Richardson said.
However, it was not only Richardson who benefited from the connection with his sister. The family was immensely proud of his sister’s growth, her ability to easily use a second language in real-life situations and navigate through an entirely different culture impressed them all.
Even with just one week in person, the opportunity to see family from across the world despite the havoc from the COVID-19 pandemic is a great privilege that these students have had the pleasure of enjoying. Though online forms of connection are powerful and should not be ignored, the simple act of being next to someone will never fade.