Dear students, alum, families, partners, and friends,
Our Spring 2021 semester has officially started onsite in Sorrento, and it is already our third week in. The preparation and anticipation for this semester has been a long road, but a very exciting journey as well as our campus welcomed our U.S. university students back onsite for the first time since the Spring 2020 semester.
The decision to reopen our doors once again was a hard one, given the fear of potentially putting any of our students, staff or anyone for that matter in danger. However, after the past year of facing the unknown and learning how to more confidently confront this pandemic with the utmost caution and safety, the desire to be able to give this opportunity to students again was very important to me.
Personally as a mother, with both of my kids abroad last year during the outbreak of the pandemic, I fully understand the anxiety and fear of having my children, pieces of my heart, so far away during difficult times and not being able to protect them completely. But during this period, I was as present and supportive as I could be everyday. It was not only a good lesson for me in learning how to trust them more as adults, but also an important rite of passage in their lives as well – realizing how to take care of themselves more.
So when I made the decision to open Sant’Anna again, I thought a lot about the other parents out there like me – maybe torn between our innate, selfish desires to keep our kids always next to us under our safe control, but also with the confidence that they are strong enough to make it even on their own.
I felt a lot of responsibility making sure our protocol was in place and everyone was informed and prepared to follow the rules, both staff and students. From the moment they arrived, our students demonstrated their maturity in understanding and respecting the rules, not just set internally at school, but those set at regional and national levels by our government.
It is true pieces of our freedom have been stolen from us during this pandemic, but we have also been reminded of the freedoms that cannot be taken away from us and that we probably no longer take for granted if we had before. Our students exercised their own freedom to take chances and to live to the fullest the opportunities they have been given. They are our proof that no matter happens, we can persevere. The world may change face, but our values in education and life – commitment to multiculturalism, open-mindedness, respect, inclusion – are still there for us to take hold of. It is time to see the world with a new lens, but always with the same wonder.
Our heroes here will be different than the alumni that came before them – they will gain an additional perspective unlike any of our students before, and their personal growth may be intensified as well. We are proud and honored to have them here, and it is my hope and sincerest wish that Spring 2021 will be a respark to a new beginning of studying abroad in Sorrento.