Powerful alumni responses to the pandemic and the protests

Throughout the summer, Odyssey staff and alumni have gathered online on Wednesday nights to keep learning, share heartbreaking experiences, and support each other during these unprecedented times. We have explored vocabulary words ranging from asphyxiation to heterogeneity, viewed art by Faith Ringgold, Frida Kahlo, and other artists of color, sampled songs by Aretha Franklin and contemporary hip hop artists, and pondered quotes by Walt Whitman, Nelson Mandela, and others.

Most movingly, we have heard from Odyssey alumni in their own words. Here are a few samples:

“We’re all dealing with a time in our history that none of us could have ever predicted we’d have to live through. One thing I know of Odyssey students is we have the ability to adapt and face the various situations we encounter. Now is the time to take care of ourselves emotionally and spiritually. That’s what it is to be human. Love one another and show real concern. We’ll get through this because we are Odyssey and we have the capacity to adapt.” — James ’13

“I was 14 years old in 1967 when Dr. King was killed and I remember the tanks rolling down the street in front of my house, the national guard telling us we had to stay in our homes. And now with everything happening since George Floyd’s death, our city of Chicago is ablaze. My girls now have a new respect for me, their grandmother. My granddaughters ask me questions like I’m a relic. They ask me what they can do, in their twenties, to make change. I’m looking at the positives that are coming from this, and I’m grateful to be here with my family.” — Oroki ’07

“When I think about the words “I can’t breathe,” I think about how breathing is the essence of life. As a mom of two black sons, as a refugee, as an immigrant, as a woman, I’m just kind of sad as I think about the future, but I try to have a bit of hope.” — Josephine ’08

“I opened my eyes this morning just to realize I was still in this pandemic. If you come out of this lockdown with your sanity intact or even hanging by a thread, you’re a warrior. If you come out of this lockdown while struggling with mental health, you’re a warrior. It’s okay if you don’t get out of bed today, as long as you get up tomorrow.” — Loche ’20

“Never give up. We are going through troubled times, but never give up. When life gives you sorrow, never give up. Just remember things will get better. When you are faced with challenges, never give up. Just be brave and use your voice. Never give up.” — Denise ’05


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