As a freshman at Hope, I was told about how beautiful the summers are in Holland. I would hear everywhere about how nice the beach is and how incredible the skies look. In January, I made the decision to stay on campus and not go back home to Honduras during the summer. I found a job, and I asked my best friend to be my roommate over the summer. Then everything changed. Instead of moving into my summer housing on May 1, I moved on May 22; and my best friend was stuck in Midland, unable to move back to campus. Although the fact that my best friend and I are not able to room together anymore is not great, I am actually very happy with my new housemates. They are all Spanish speakers, and two of them are from Honduras. My days are incredible — full of laughter, good food and good music.

But as you can imagine, most of my housemates’ plans were also canceled or changed. Going to the grocery store is still not easy because the shuttle runs only once a week, and sometimes we just can’t make it.

A few weeks ago, we got an email about a possible food pantry, and a few days ago we got an email saying the Food Pantry was ready for us to go. It warms my heart to see how many people from Holland are willing to help us and give us so many things! More than fifty students (domestic and international) are staying on campus and are benefiting from this community-wide initiative. With everything that’s happening around the world, it is so important for us, as international students, to know that there are people out there looking after us and supporting us in every way possible. I remember looking at the pictures uploaded to social media of people who gave to the Food Pantry. I remember looking at families and little children smiling and giving food and kitchen supplies away. It is important for us to know that the next generations are being taught to be kind and to think about others’ situations as well.

At the Food Pantry, we are able to find not only food, but also kitchen supplies, personal hygiene products and even books! I just thought to myself how caring and thoughtful people are to even think about bringing books to the Food Pantry.

I cannot put into words how grateful I am with everything Hope College is doing for me, as an international student who is not able to go home during this pandemic. Ever since the start of quarantine, Hope has been there to provide housing and food to all of the students who cannot go back home right away. We were given special treats at Phelps for Easter and the RDs have been so nice and treating us with sweets. The international students were also given summer housing for free! Currently, I wake up every day in a beautiful cottage with friends who now seem more like sisters to me, feeling grateful for the day I chose Hope as my new home.

Editor’s Note: Isabel and several other students still remain on campus. The staff at the Center for Global Engagement organized a #KeepingHope food pantry that they may access at anytime. If you are interested in ways that you can support students at Hope please visit hope.edu/give2hope.

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