A college senior I don’t know is trying to organize a remote orchestra to record Pomp and Circumstance over Zoom for use in home graduation ceremonies.
A young adult I do know was recalled from his Peace Corps appointment after only six months. His term, like all Peace Corps volunteers, is terminated, and he will not be allowed to return.
College students I’ve spoken with were on spring break when their campuses shut down. They are miles and miles away from their dorm rooms with all their clothes and books. It may be September before they can go back. Some of them are leaders on campus; their peers are looking to them to solve problems and they don’t know what to do. Others who are abruptly “home” are in a place they don’t recognize, since their parents moved after they left for college. One says, “I just can’t be here.”
This moment of dislocation and suspension feels particularly grievous for young adults who were taking some of their first meaningful autonomous steps into adulthood. We have made so much of college as the conduit to becoming a “grown up”; who is a college student who can’t be at college? Institutions like the Peace Corps serve as containers for critical vocational discernment and the development of lifelong skills and agency. Who is an ejected Peace Corps volunteer?
I expect these young adults to thrive in these changed conditions–they are smart and full of conviction. But the more I talk to them the more understand how much is being asked of them.