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Testing Bonds By Serena Dugar Ioane

Quarantines and restrictions adversely affected relationships said students, but they learned to endure them

Students shared that social distancing brought on by COVID-19 helped people see the importance of family, friends and social situations. They said they learned to spend quality time through online sites while building stronger relationships with God.

Interviewees from the right, Alyssa Odom, Otgonbileg Bataa, and Angela Fantone

Strain on relationships

Angela Fantone, a recent alumna from the Philippines, said not seeing her friends was the hardest part of the COVID-19 restrictions. “I’m an introvert by nature. It’s hard for me to make friends, but I was fortunate to find friends I wanted to keep for life. Quarantining reverted me to my natural introverted state, so it’ll be hard for me to be outgoing again.

“I try to connect with my friends via social media, but it’s hard because of different time zones, so you can’t expect quick replies.” Fantone added that the depth of her friendships has not changed because it is not something that distance can take away, “However, I definitely felt a change in our emotions.”

Blessings on relationships in the pandemic

Otgonbileg Bataa, a sophomore from Mongolia majoring in finance, said he believes the pandemic gave people more opportunities to spend time together as a family and see the importance of family.

“Soon after quarantine started, my wife gave birth to our first child. Being at home all the time and helping my wife and son was such a blessing. Spending more time together helped us to be a stronger family.”

Bataa with his wife, Anudari Enkhbat, and son

According to Bataa, restrictions also helped people see the importance of friendship. “In Mongolia, we have an idiom that says the hard times test friends’ true character... Many of my friends proved to me how great friends they are to me.” He noted how having a baby during a global pandemic was challenging, but his church leaders and friends ministered to his family.

The unity of nations and organizations were strengthened during this time, noted Bataa. “I saw how countries and organizations were working together, making positive changes to people’s lives. It was great to see unity instead of conflicts arise.”

Overall, Bataa said that although the global pandemic brought hardships and sorrow for many families, “it reminded us of the important things that we forgot sometimes because of our busy lives.”

Overcoming obstacles

Fantone shared that although her relationship with her friends and families struggled due to long-distance, she built a closer relationship with God.

“I believe my relationship with the Lord has improved. It’s been a big part of my focus. At the end of the day, we are who we have. We should develop a good relationship with ourselves and the Lord because we won’t always have our friends or even family members by our side all the time.”

Alyssa Odom, a senior from Washington majoring in piano performance, said, her relationships were affected by this pandemic, and she learned to cherish things like face-to-face classes.

“Until this pandemic started, I had never realized that being able to attend social activities and meeting people face-to-face was such a big privilege. Now when face-to-face classes start, I will never be annoyed by going to classes.”