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Health Humanities major Sydney Dahl contemplates 2020

Sydney Dahl in the woods on the North Shore of Lake SuperiorThis has been the year of incredible turmoil — wildfires, hurricanes, killer hornets, social unrest and blatant violations of human rights, polarization and an increasing divide in our society — all on top of a horrific pandemic. This year is seriously testing all of us. Thanks, COVID. As much as I want to scream at the top of my lungs and become a time traveller, I can’t help but think of all of the good experiences and opportunities 2020 has also brought with it.

My mind immediately wanders to a Haitian proverb, "Dèyè mòn gen mòn," meaning "beyond mountains, there are mountains." There are two ways of understanding this proverb, just as there are two ways to look at 2020. Sometimes the proverb is used to express the idea that opportunities are inexhaustible, and sometimes it is used as a way of saying that when you surmount one great obstacle you merely gain a clear view of the next one. I am choosing to look at the opportunities and positive experiences that have flourished this year.

First, my wedding photography business is booming. Love conquers all! I've also spent a lot more time outdoors and have rekindled my love for camping and hiking. I travelled to Montana to hike Glacier National Park, and my boyfriend and I purchased a 1956 ford step van that we are going to turn into our little nomadic home. I’ve fostered a stronger relationship with my parents and witnessed my community come together during this trying time. I decided to start pursuing a life I want to live. As a senior, this is an incredibly stressful year the way it is, but I am choosing to see the good and be the good.

I am incredibly grateful for the extra time. For the small things that I started to notice when everything else was taken away. For the slow mornings. For friendship and community. For the time to actually read a book for leisure. For all of the hope and love that has radiated from humanity.

Beyond mountains, there are mountains. Will you choose to see the opportunities or the obstacles?

– Sydney Dahl, '21