Pandemic as Portal: Sept 3 and Wed. Sept 8, 3:00 p.m.

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”  (Source:  Arundhati Roy, The Pandemic is a Portal,” Financial Times, April 3, 2020)

What have you lost because of the many pandemics of 2020– COVID, racial injustice, police brutality, divisive political rhetoric, etc.?

What strengths did you find in yourself or your community during the past eighteen months?

What’s your vision of a healthy and vibrant “new normal?”  What tools have you developed to work towards this vision?

Fabric markers, scraps of fabric, and pins can be found at each of three tubes hanging from trees in Parker Quad from September 1 through September 8.  Please write whatever you would like to share about the losses, insights, and strengths of this past year on a scrap of fabric and pin it to one (or more) of the tubes. 

We will share spoken reflections at an opening event on Friday, September 3, at 3 pm and again at a closing evening Wednesday, September 8 at 3pm.  There will be music and silence, laughter, tears, as we move towards hope and healing in this new academic year.

Co-sponsored by Episcopal Campus Ministry (The Rev. Dr. Allison Moore), Rabbi Lori Wynters, Jewish Campus Chaplain, the Eddy at New Paltz, and the Faculty Development Center (Sarah Wyman), with contributions from Phyllis Chen (Music Department), Jen Rutner (Sojourner Truth Library) and Andrea Frank (Fine and Performing Arts).

Here some images and transcripts of the hand-written contributions:

event documentation
installation documentation

I lost a year of time with my grandmas but I learned to be comfortable in my DNA

The new normal is accepting there’s no normal.

Learning about myself and what makes me happy.

I learned that I am gay and trans. I -heart- myself.

I’ve learned to love myself again -a gay girl

I lost my grandpa to covid -heart-. I have found strength in the vaccinated community

event picture
gathering at closing ceremony

I lost my grandma

I lost some creative willpower & sense of self

I lost the end of my childhood. I gained strength to begin my adulthood. -Heart-

During the pandemic I found strength in myself and learned to love myself more!

I have found self love -heart-

I felt like I was living the same day over & over again

A new normal is wearing a mask when sick/cold even after masks are no longer required (respect)

I’ve learned to accept myself more

I’ve lost a sense of separation, even though isolated we’re all together in this. Hope that’s a gain!

I lost who I was but in the process I found a new me and embraced them!

installation shot

I lost my life but I have hope to make a better one!

I learned to be grateful for the time I spend with people and the places i get to go.

I lost hope for normalcy

I’ve lost a lot of hope

I learned to love myself & not care what others think. I also learned I am non-binary & I love that abt myself

“Lonely ain’t?” “Yes, but my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else’s. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain’t that something? A secondhand lonely.”

I lost myself

I m not what happens to me, I am what I choose to become

Lost the time & relationship of my friends….even if we don’t see each other try to stay in contact via social media

Lost time with my parents that live overseas. Making an effort to stay connected.

My new normal is choosing happiness first and everything else will align.

closing ceremony
closing ceremony

Until we meet again

I learned that forgiveness heals

Masks steal smiles but save lives

Reading books about race in U.S. history

I learned how to be more comfortable with myself and how important my family really is.

I have learned to value my chosen family. You don’t owe anything to people who don’t value your true self

My friend has lost many of his neighbors to covid. Remember to hug the people you love and remind them to get vaccinated.

Don’t be afraid to wander…Trust in my own past

Diversity Hires

I am strong, perseverant, and resilient! -heart-

Communities came and went like the tide

My vision of a healthy + vibrant “new normal”  For all of us to show more love + compassion for each other + heal.

I lost my grandma. And I lost my mental stability. However I have grown so much. And I hope to grow more. -heart-

I learned a lot of hard truths about myself.

I discovered hiking trails, new recipes, + the value of time just being with family during lockdown. I want to hold on to these.

Losing the sense of community

My Grandfather -heart- Gone too soon.

We are all going through this together! You are not alone! -Chelsi

I have gained a deeper awareness of what is essential- family, faith, friendship, laughter, connection, the Earth -heart-

I lost the end of high school, my grandfather, my stepfather, my family as it was, and my sense of smell.

I learned to enjoy spending time with myself! -heart-

I gained a truer, more unapologetic version of myself. I spent my time alone learning to better love me -heart-

I lost my second mother this year- Give our elders their flowers while they are here with us -DH

I learned to enjoy solidarity and appreciate long walks. -heart-

I lost hope. I lost myself, but I mostly lost hope.

I learned how important family and close friends are. Without those special people in our lives we could not be who we are as individuals.

I lost a lot of things that I didn’t realize I would be better without

It will never be the same

My beloved Grandma

I loved having my grown daughters home again

And we rise

My Grandma. I would call her on my walks home from class. The last conversation we had was on the phone under this tree -heart-

I lost the best parts of school, seeing my friends, and even people who weren’t. It was isolation from humankind. Online classes via zoom took place in my bedroom, invading and destroying the sanctuary of my own personal space. It was a space newly filled with schoolwork and disappointment.

I have gained a better understanding of my family, though a year of my life has been taken. Where fundamental growth is not found, and time now has a new meaning. I have gained a perspective on injustices in this country and only seek change. Wishing for sense of community and love in this anew. -hearts-

Over the last 19 months I discovered that my mind is my biggest strength. Only you can face your battles so making sure that my mind was in a good place has been very important to me. Happiness Over Everything

I have gained deeper relationships with myself and my friends. Gaining a confidence that I would not have been able to get without pain and loss. Losing many friends + family hurts but also a drive to succeed and be happy in my life.

During the pandemic I lost my grandma and most recently my uncle. I’ve learned that grief is never ending but time heals when you remember the good moments with the people that you love. So I also that appreciating those around you is so important -heart-

I lost a lot of relationships. But I found myself. I learned what it means to be strong, patient, careful, open, responsible, caring & loving. I’ve dedicated myself to leave the past behind me and to appreciate the world w/ new openness. I learned new levels of self-love, self-worth, all the “selves”. I am happy and super proud of myself to be who I am today! I worked hard on my character. I love the choices that I made -heart- I love myself so, so much -heart-

I feel like I’ve lost invaluable time as well as an unscathed part of a younger me. I’m different now, but we all are no doubt.

I am closer with my sister. I am better at functioning independently. I have a greater appreciation for “little things” and moments. I am working on living in the present rather than being distracted by the past or future tasks. I’m learning to express myself more. -star-

I’ve lost time but gained a sense of self. Normal doesn’t + never existed. It simply is.

I now know I am capable of adaptation and have the strength to make it through trying times. I will always remember how much I value the company in my life. Dinners with my grandparents have never meant more to me.


Joy and Pain

Quarantine gave me time to reflect- new ways to connect

Masks covered up smiles but revealed so much more.

I have learned self love + friendship

Self love is a rollercoaster

Take your time and be patient

My sense of respect for my family. A lot of them turned out to be nasty + selfish. I’ve learned how to remove myself from their ignorance + misery. I’ve learned other people have no power over me and that’s a good thing.

I learned to move on with no hate in my heart. I learned to be forgiving. To be understanding. I am learning to love myself unconditionally.

I lost my grandmother to covid. Many friends stopped being friends soon after. I focused on improving myself after in health physically and mentally. My new normal is no normal and to face the new head on. Take what is needed, leave the rest.

During the pandemic I developed anxiety disorder/panic disorder and became terrified for my black/asian/non-white brothers and sisters. I also lost two loved ones along with my GG  last night, all of whom died of covid-19. The pandemic taught me a lot and forced me to grow up even more and has sent me on a path of self discovery through the pain _smile- -heart-

It was isolating. I feel like I lost out on time away from school + with my friends, but also got closer with them because we were all there for each other. Time has gone so fast + slow.

The pandemic + the anxiety from it made me relapse w/my eating disorder. I’ve found the community to be incredibly compassionate.

I think I lost a sibling. The last time we spoke she told me I was brain washed that covid isn’t real. That it only hurts older people. Its been almost a year.


  • no highschool graduation or prom. Everything about my final highschool memories.
  • confidence
  • -motivation
  • friends
  • -family ties
  • -faith


  • stronger & closer relationships
  • healthier & new relationships
  • Resilience + grit
  • confidence in not caring what people think of me (as much)
  • Independence
  • a better perspective on who I really want to be in life + how I want to live my life.

I’ve gained a new sense of time- a deep longing + appreciation to bein the present and cherish it.

Besides the pandemic making everyone miserable already, I had another once in a lifetime event occur right when first Fall semester of 2020 started. It’ll have been a year on the 11th since it happened but I’m thankful for my friends in NY that supported me through this trauma.

I learned that mental health is important. Its much as we want to get better, it is about growing and developing yourself. Life is not easy and happens fast. We need to understand that its okay to slow down.

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