Campus Remains Open, and Welcoming, for Students During Break


Due to Covid-19 and the inability for some students to travel internationally, Williston has opened its dorms for students to stay during break.

On November 20, Williston opened dorms for students who are unable to go back home to stay on campus. Williston currently has nine students staying on campus. These students are from Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Sudan, and Senegal.

Emily McFadon Vincent, and the two boys’ dorms, Conant and John Hazen White, are housing three students each. Meals are also still being provided by Sage dining and there are still shuttles going to nearby places as well as events on campus keeping the students busy.

These events include shuttles to Northampton, Holyoke, or pretty much anyplace nearby, cookie decorating, and gingerbread making competitions. Dorm parents brought in treats and snacks for the students to enjoy. Erin Davey, Director of Inclusion and Community Life, and Assistant Deans of Students, organized the events.

Anita Hua, a third-year junior from Shanghai, China only returned to Williston halfway through the first trimester. She describes how it’s difficult for her to travel home and it’s much safer for her to stay back on campus.

“If I want to go back home right now I would have to go to Cambodia and quarantine there for 14 days before going back to China,” she said,  “I would need to do the same thing in order to come back to the U.S. I’d be wasting 28 days just quarantining, so I decided to stay.”

“It’s also a lot safer to stay on campus,” she continued, “because if I go back to my homestay families house in Boston, with the cases rising there, I have more chances of contracting the disease. With Williston still doing the weekly Covid tests, I feel much safer on campus.”

Staying on campus is fun because Anita gets to spend time with her friends.

“Even though I don’t get to see my parents I still think it’s fun to stay on campus. Sari, Poojaa, and I all live next to each other in the same dorm so we go to meals together, spend so much time watching tv, go on shuttles, and go on our daily walk to Dunkin’.”

Anita enjoyed some events happening on campus, specifically the cookie decorating competition that took place last weekend.

“Ms. Ildefonso was on duty this past weekend and she brought some cookies, and we had a small cookie decorating competition between the different people who stayed on campus with faculty members also participating in it,” she said. “So we decorated the cookies and we decided the winner, and they got a gift card. It was very relaxed and a nice way to spend my weekend.”

Poojaa Prakash Babu, a four-year senior at Williston from Saudi Arabia, also came back a few weeks after school started because of Covid-19 restricting travel. She explains how this is her final year at Williston and doesn’t mind spending winter break at a place she loves.

“Getting back to Williston after spending six months at home was very difficult. My flights kept on getting canceled and I felt as though I was never going to come back,” she said.

“I’m definitely sad that I don’t get to be spending time with my parents, but this was my senior year, and I didn’t want to miss out on anything,” she said. “I also wanted to stay because the flight situation this fall was a nightmare, and I don’t want that to happen all over again.”

Poojaa also got to learn more about American culture and traditions.

“This is my second Thanksgiving and my first Christmas,” Poojaa said, “so I’m learning a lot more about American culture. Since my family doesn’t celebrate these holidays, I think it gives me a unique experience.”

Poojaa doesn’t feel lonely on campus because she has people to talk to and hangout with. Furthermore, she knew she was going to stay on campus for break, which reduced her loneliness.

“Since I was in that mindset already knowing I was going to spend break here, I knew I wasn’t going to feel lonely,” she said. “But if this was my junior year I definitely feel like I would’ve felt lonely. Anita and Sari [Yamagata] are also here, so I feel like I have good company and people to hangout with.”

“I also stayed at Anna Richardson’s house for Thanksgiving break and did the three weeks of online on campus,” Poojaa added. “I’m going back to her house for winter break, which I think is keeping me busy and not lonely.”