BYU–Hawaii students said pandemic-related changes were challenging, but helped them grow in different ways, including learning new skills, improving existing skills, and strengthening their testimonies in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Alyssa Odom, a senior from Washington state majoring in piano performance, said she felt very restricted at the beginning, and it was difficult for her. “Everything was closed, and I could not meet anyone. It was very frustrating, but I adjusted to the changes eventually.”
Boldbaatar Darichuluun, a freshman from Mongolia, majoring in hospitality and tourism management, said the hardest challenge related to the pandemic was attending classes online. He commented it was difficult for him to understand the lessons without interacting personally with the instructors. “I have noticed that learning online requires more time and effort. I learned to be more independent in my studies from this experience.”
Angela Fantone, an alumna from the Philippines, said the pandemic-related changes were overwhelming initially, but she dealt with them by taking them one at a time.
Odom said she learned to be flexible and paid close attention to her hygiene practices from this pandemic experience. “I also learned to be more respectful of others’ personal space. Even after this pandemic, I will try to be mindful if others are okay with my hugs and handshakes. I also learned to use online platforms better to communicate with others.”
Odom shared COVID-19 helped her to gain a new appreciation for the little things in life. “I learned to cherish the time I had with people face-to-face and not take it for granted. When we start to have classes, devotionals and other social activities, I will be very grateful.
“I am looking forward to the opening of the temple. Going to the temple whenever I wanted and serving there was such a great blessing.”
For Fantone, the pandemic helped her focus on passions she didn’t have time for before. “The quarantine helped me to have time to work on my writing skills. I’ve been working on my poetry and short fiction, which is something I never get to do much because of my busy life. Since I became stuck at home, I have more time to rekindle these passions.”
Fantone said she understood the importance of being prepared. “It’s true that we didn’t see this virus coming, but when we prepare, we can face any challenge ahead of us.”
Darichuluun shared how doing sacrament every week at his house helped him grow spiritually and his family become more united. “Doing sacrament at home helped me to use my priesthood often and strengthened my testimony. We will try to continue our new spiritual habits even after the pandemic.”
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