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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Why taking Spring Term off was my best decision

Remember on the last day of classes in Winter Term when everyone was panicking and trying to figure out their spring break plans? That night at 1 a.m., my parents called to tell me I had a flight to India in 12 hours. In the span of a few hours, I scrambled to pack my entire life up, email the Dean to inform the College, tell my professors I wouldn’t be on campus to do my finals, and do my laundry (yes, my mother made me). 

I cried practically throughout the entire journey on Northfield Lines, then again at the airport, and then again in my flight because I was so overwhelmed by the whirlwind I was in. Needless to say, I was very happy to see my family (and the glass of wine I was handed as soon as I landed) with whom I had a really fun time in quarantine. 

We hosted a fancy family cocktail party, had relay races, and daily dance exercise sessions to pass the time. When it came to paying tuition for spring term, my dad seemed oddly hesitant. We discussed the value of doing spring term online on the other side of the world. 

After multiple roundtable discussions (not the kind you’re thinking of, we just have a circular dining table), expert consultations (i.e. my brother, a college graduate), and cost-benefit analyses (thousands of dollars vs. zero dollars), I decided to withdraw from the term. At first, I was jealous. I couldn’t relate to all the Zoom learning memes or complain about time differences like my friends, but later I was even more upset when I ended up getting COVID. 

Once I recovered, I stopped thinking about my selfish needs and realized that my country was literally dying, not because of disease, but because of hunger.

The Indian lockdown was one of strictest imposed in the world which, unsurprisingly, was pretty difficult for the 1.3 billion people it affected. Unfortunately, this meant millions of people were unable to get basic groceries for their day-to-day life. I signed up with a non-profit and made dozens of phone calls a day to ask people if their basic needs were being met. 

I connected them with other individuals and organizations that delivered food and medicine to those who needed them. 

For the first time in my life, I left my protected, privileged bubble and experienced (vicariously) the atrocities brought by a total lockdown. When I spoke to a man who had not eaten in 2 days, I had an actual breakdown worse than the ones before every Carleton final. 

I called every organization in his district, every government helpline number (not a single one picked up!), and my dad’s friend who lived in the same state to get him basic rations.

 I broke down again when he called me to say he had received it and referred to me as godsent. I have no regrets about the credits I missed in the spring or what my decision means academically.

This spring term, I actually learned.

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