In the midst of adapting to the “new normal” with the pandemic, both as a student and simply as a human being, I have been reading a book with a message that resonates with me—especially during a time like this.
The Day the World Came to Town tells the story of the generous and hospitable people of Gander, Newfoundland coming together to help the passengers on the 38 flights that were diverted to the island on 9/11. Yes, I know that this doesn’t sound like the most uplifting story to be reading right now, but I find comfort in it.
Rather than focusing on the tragedy of that day, the bigger takeaway of this book is that a community of people with incredibly warm hearts, came together to overcome an obstacle. Nineteen years later, I think this message still proves to be true, making the book even more universal and timeless. I have an immense amount of respect for the journalist, Jim Defede, who not only condensed his research into a 244-page book but also published one of the most humanity-centered stories I’ve ever read.
I think everyone is concerned about what’s happening around the world right now, reading news headlines that pop up with notifications of people stocking up on supplies. Personally, on a much less serious level, I’ve been thinking about how much my last semester has changed in a short amount of time. I’m having to say goodbye to friends earlier than I thought because I’m either not seeing them with the campus closure or they’re going home. I’m having to pack up my room in case I decide to go home while simultaneously playing the risky game of how long I should stay here. I’m having to tell people that graduation is probably going to be cancelled, coming to terms that this isn’t how I imagined my last semester to be. Granted, these thoughts are not as dire as needing to take care of myself, but I still consider them very real concerns because they’re part of the new norm.
It feels like the world is coming to a standstill, and that’s especially jarring when you’re used to a society that doesn’t stop moving. It’s also a rare occurrence for the entire world to be talking about the same thing, but here we are. With everything going on, I’m trying to remind myself of the message from the book—people can overcome seemingly insurmountable problems when they come together. People are coming back from the problem because drastic measures have been taken as a community to fix it, proving the message of the book to be true.