At the beginning of global lockdown/quarantine/stay at home orders, I, like many, reached out to my friends from afar, especially those from my semesters at the Institute. Finally, after four years, we had a good excuse to have a virtual reunion. Apparently there’s nothing like a pandemic to bring you closer to your friends and loved ones. I was not surprised to see that other Arava alumni had similar thoughts to connect with each other virtually. Nor can I say that I was shocked by the variety of offerings from our diverse alumni community. From yoga classes to storytelling workshops to a lecture about the Amazon rainforest to a four-hour alumni DJ-ed dance party, and so much more, we’ve got a lot to give, share, and teach. These Zoom workshops clearly show the collective pushback against social isolation by the Arava community. If this doesn’t encapsulate our strength, adaptability, and resiliency, I don’t know what does.
I was honored to be able to give a virtual lecture to the Arava community. I recently completed my master’s degree in Transboundary Water Governance and Diplomacy. My decision to go back to school to study transboundary water conflict and cooperation was a direct result of my year as an intern at the Institute’s Center for Transboundary Water Management. So it was doubly special for me to be able to share my master’s research with the community that inspired my studies in the first place. Everything comes full circle, doesn’t it?
These days, much of the world has been forced to find connection in different ways. Zoom calls don’t necessarily replace the intimacy of an in-person interaction, nor do they ease the anxieties of not knowing what the future holds. But for me, at least, they bring back a partial sense of normalcy, and remind me that there are still other important issues in the world that don’t have to do with COVID-19. Plus, how could you turn down a virtual dance party with all of your friends? I am so proud to be part of the global Arava alumni community, and our collective effort to connect with each other, if only through a screen, exemplifies just how strong and capable of greatness we are in the face of crisis.
Submitted by Jaclyn Best, 2015-16 alumna