This new blog is a place where you will find stories about how the people of Hope College are working, serving, learning and responding in this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 crisis. We hope that here you will find inspiration and comfort in the ways we are keeping hope alive in our communities and at our college.
*Editor’s Note: Kleenex alert! The reflections below, contributed by Bill Moreau, associate professor of English, show how students are keeping Hope in their hearts by remembering how the college community and its bond are important to them. Their authenticity shows that #keepinghope is both difficult and enduring.
Because of COVID-19, on Wednesday, March 11, the Hope College community was told that we would start our spring break one day early. Athletic excursions did not depart. Immersion trips evaporated. Chapel Choir’s spring venture dried up. Personal break plans fizzled. Students were told to leave campus the next day and to stay safely at home until April 13. That initial four-week closedown ended up being extended to the end of the semester. Students did not get a chance to say goodbye in any significant way. Classes, meetings, celebrations, and Chapel/Gathering services all went remote. Although many activities continued in a distant, screen-captured way, the human touch on the campus of Hope College resembled a vacant lot. Rumor has it that a few tumbleweeds drifted with the westerly breeze through the Pine Grove and down past Martha Miller and onto the athletic fields just east of DeVos.
After ten weeks of
normal face-to-face interaction, a week-long blurred spring break (mainly
loaded with hours of figuring out a remote-learning strategy of some sort), and
then five weeks of distance-centered classes—plus another week of exams, final
projects, and presentations—we finally finished the semester.
I found that the
shelter-at-home lives my students were now living had an immense impact on
their view of their former lives as college students. Yes, they were still
college students during the pandemic readjustment, but they were now college
students with a different view of what they once had. To confirm that
observation, I asked all of them to respond to the following prompt as part of
their exit from my three classes: “What
do you miss most about your pre-pandemic life at Hope College?”
Below are some of
the thoughtful responses they shared:
“What I miss most about my life at Hope is
the sense of freedom. Being back at home has made me feel as if I have taken
two steps back in life instead of forward. I miss being able to get coffee with
my friends or play intramural sports with my sorority. I miss working at the
bookstore and the Science Center or going to the gym when I needed to blow off
some steam. Honestly, I miss everything about Hope. I never thought I would
miss it this much, but because I never got to properly say goodbye, I feel as
if I closed the book on my life in college without actually finishing it.” (Senior)
“I think the real question is what don’t I miss about Hope College. I miss
everything from late night conversations with my roommate, to hard workouts
with my teammates, to thoughtful conversations with professors, to singing in
Chapel with my friends. I think the overarching theme is that I miss my people.
The friends I made at Hope fill my heart with so much joy. I feel so grateful
that God led me to Hope and placed those people in my life. I am praying that I
will get to see their faces in a few months.”
“I miss singing!
Whether it’s in Chapel Choir or my acapella group (12th Street
Harmony), I always enjoy being able to express myself through music. I also
miss being able to see everyone that I love at school. You don’t realize how
much it brightens your day saying “Hello!” to thirty people in passing
throughout the day until you don’t have that experience anymore.” (Sophomore)
“I have missed interacting with my
professors the most while being back home. One of my favorite parts of Hope
College is the relationships I get to form with my professors. I truly learn
much better when I have one-on-one instruction. I also miss my friends and the
activities around campus. It has been quite boring sitting at home. I also
really miss having a library and a place to study…and not my kitchen table!” (Senior)
“I MISS EVERYTHING! I realized how much I take for granted
the freedom and the friends that come with living on campus. It has been a very
difficult transition for me. I had some personal trouble early in the semester,
and it was really helpful to have friends to talk to and lean on when I needed
them the most. I really miss the social aspect of Phelps and that feeling you
get when you just want to sit and talk for the rest of the night.” (First-year student)
“I really miss walking through campus and running
into people I know and being able to spend time in a place where I have so many
memories. I also miss being able to do homework on campus. I loved to study in
Schaap by the ducks and I miss sitting at those tables and doing homework. I
miss seeing my professors and classmates in person and I miss the opportunity I
had to go talk with my professors in their offices. I also miss Hope
traditions, like Brinner or Spring Fling. If I had to pick one thing I miss
most, I would say it would be the Hope community.” (Senior)
“I miss the
physical on-site meetings for Chapel and the Gathering. In the craziness of
life, those were my places to be at peace amongst the chaos, usually sitting
with my friends by my side. I miss my professors, my friends, my work staff at
Campus Ministries and my new Sib Sorority sisters. And finally, I miss my
motivation. I would do homework every free moment I had—in either the BSC, the library,
or at Campus Ministries. I miss the academic environment I used to be in.” (First-year student)
seeing my friends every day. It is such a blessing to be surrounded by people
who are so fun, kind, caring, and genuine. Being back at home is very isolating
and feels a lot like my senior year of high school, which is not a good thing.
I am ready to get back to Holland ASAP. I miss my team and my coaches. I never
realized how much they filled me up and challenged me to not only be a better
athlete but also a better person. I miss routine, having a definite purpose and
plan for each day. I miss walking everywhere and saying hello to people’s
faces.” (First-year student)
not being at Hope I have lost a lot of motivation. Hope gave me that
environment that pushed me to do my best work. It has definitely been hard for
me to keep this mentality at home. As a senior I also very much miss
celebrating all of our accomplishments with friends, professors, and loved
“At Hope College I am continuously
surrounded by people who love me, make me laugh, want to help me strengthen my
faith, and push me to be my very best self. While I obviously love my family
and being with them, too much family time is a real thing. It is hard to
transition from being on your own into a household of seven people. I really
miss seeing my best friends, eating dinner with my team, and staying up late to
eat grilled cheese from the Kletz with my study buddy. What makes Hope, Hope?
The people. The atmosphere at Hope College is what drew me to attending.” (First-year student)
really miss going to class. I didn’t realize how much I appreciated in-person
class until it was taken away from me. I love seeing my professors, seeing my
friends, having discussions in real life. Class becomes so much more than just
class when you are able to have a relationship with your professor and
“I miss my job. I was on the Stats Crew and
it was such an exciting time. I got to call the play- by-play for all the
women’s basketball games and the tournament was so fun. Spring season was just
beginning, so I got to see three of my housemates play lacrosse and call their
games as well. Most of all, I miss having a routine. The whole world turned
upside down and I was certainly not ready for it.” (Junior)
“In terms of my life at Hope, I do not think I
can pinpoint one thing: I miss it all.”
have missed my lacrosse team more than anything. Those women are my family. A
lot was taken away from us and it hurts me that we were not able to show how
hard we were working. It is strange to me that I will never step on the field
again as a Hope women’s lacrosse player. I miss human interaction and living
away from home on my own agenda. This was all such a fast transition, and as
much as I say I am past it, I am not. I am still in denial. Being cooped up has
been so hard.” (Senior)
“I miss the
people of Hope. SO much. I miss my professors, my friends, my roommates, my
TEAMMATES, my RAs, my RD. I miss playing softball. I miss falling asleep to the
train and then waking up from it at 3:00 in the morning. I just miss Hope
College.” (First-year student)
“I miss my usual study spots the most. I had just gotten the
hang of my new schedule and found my favorite ways and places to study so I
could be the most productive before we had to leave. At home, unfortunately, my
desk is right next to my brother’s room where he plays loud video games all
day. I am excited to go back to campus to get back to my usual routine so I can
be more productive and honestly just feel like a college student.” (First-year student)
“I deeply miss my fraternity. I miss
the Gathering and being with my best friends. I really miss my girlfriend. This
is the longest we have ever gone without seeing each other since we started
dating. I miss feeling like I have control of my life. I miss longboarding
through campus barefoot. I miss going on double dates with my best friends. I
miss being able to look in people’s eyes when we talk. This has been hard, and
I will forever miss my last weeks of college. This was supposed to be our
victory lap of school. Instead I am sitting in my parents’ basement, feeling
like I am missing out.” (Senior)
“We all had to abruptly say goodbye to the people with whom
we had made such close bonds over this past year and that was really hard to
do. On that last Wednesday night on campus, my roommate and I watched movies
and played games with some friends from our dorm one last time before the
COVID-19 shutdown. Before I left the next morning, I had to give her a hug
goodbye and we both cried because we knew that we probably weren’t going to be
returning to school until the fall. After being home for a few days, I realized
that I was sleeping in my room alone and had no one to talk to besides my
family. I love my family, but it was odd to spend so much time with them after
creating a new life for myself at Hope.”
“My friends made studying for tests fun and a lot less
stressful because we would all stay up late together studying. Now, I find
studying for tests to be more stressful because I have to do it all on my own.
Also, I miss being able to do my homework in Martha Miller and other places
around campus. Now that I am at home, I feel like it is harder to focus on my
homework since I am no longer surrounded by other students.” (First-year student)
“I miss the chance encounters and
interactions. I miss saying hello to my groggy housemate in the morning. I miss
the pre-class chit-chat with my peers. I miss seeing professors in the hallway
and saying hello. I miss heated conversations at the lunch table with my
friends. I miss exchanging smiles with the reception desk worker at the Dow. I
miss waving across the Pine Grove to a friend passing by. I miss making small
talk with the workers at the Kletz. In sum, I miss the interactions with people
that I would never organize a Google Hangout to have, but still valued as part
of my daily routine.” (Senior)
“I miss absolutely everything about being at Hope. I am
dying to have one more day of classes, one more meal at Phelps, one more
Chapel, one more Gathering. I would love to get a proper goodbye with my
friends. I miss my dorm room. I miss feeling like I have a new life after high
school and have finally found myself and my people.” (First-year student)
“I miss the people honestly. I’ve been quarantined in my off-campus housing here in Holland and campus has been so empty it’s almost lonely. I miss the fact that I didn’t get to experience my last semester of college in the way that I thought I would. There was no last bar night, last meal at the Kletz, last walk through the Science Center. We had our last official week of classes on campus as Hope students without even knowing it would be our last. I miss what could have been.” (Senior)
Like all of Hope College, the Admissions Office staff had to rely on online communications to deliver their Hope-ful messages to prospective students when the COVID-19 crisis hit. And what a virtual presence they had! Their leadership helped Hope secure an amazing number of deposits for the incoming class of 2024. Congratulations!
Thank you to ALL in the Admission Office for your creative methods, positive spirits and focused efforts in keeping hope with our freshman class. Your many Zoom room chats, Facebook Live, virtual tours and nightly phone calls helped so many still see the wonderful ways they will become integral members of the Hope community. We look forward to meeting our new Hope students in the fall!
— Eva Dean Folkert, director of communication services
“Kudos to Pauline Rozeboom and Brad Bouwkamp who have kept CIT’s engine going throughout the current crisis. They have been in the office every day fielding questions and making remote learning seem technologically effortless. Brad has also made the mail run to the Holland post office daily which, in turn, makes Campus Mail and Print’s job a bit easier. Pauline and Brad represent the best of Hope College — the silent workers behind the scenes whose make being part of Hope College such a privilege. Thank you!”
While almost every Hope student went home to finish their classes via remote learning beginning in late March, some also began to engage in remote teaching, too.
Since April 1, 18 Hope students have volunteered to serve as tutors for children in the Holland area, helping K-12 youngsters navigate school work now entirely sent to and completed from home. The Hope students – from various majors and academic years — have met virtually with their tutees twice a week for a half hour for more than a month. And, some will continue tutoring to the conclusion of the scholastic school year which ends in June.
The idea to connect area children with home-bound Hope students came from more than 800 miles away from Holland, Michigan. Annie Kopp, a rising junior from Lancaster, New Hampshire, and an English and communication double major, had a yearning to help during the COVID-19 crisis. At first, she just wasn’t sure how, but she was determined to figure it out.
“When this pandemic hit, one of the first things in my mind was who’s going to need more help than I need? Because right now, I’m fine. So, who can I help with what I have?” she said. “Then, I went on a walk with my mom (who is a school teacher) and we talked about helping children learn remotely. That led me to write a one-page proposal to Jane Finn (chairperson of the department of education) basically telling her what I wanted to do.”
With Finn’s help and endorsement, Kopp became acquainted with the CASA, Step Up, and Upward Bound organizations on Hope’s campus, all of which provide academic, and normally in-person, support to “at-risk” children in the Holland community. Surveys were sent to parents of children in the three programs to see who was interested and able to receive tutoring via online platforms like Google Meet or Zoom. Hope students were then sent an appeal to sign up as tutors.
“Hope College students love to serve, and we know that they wanted to serve. And not just students in the education program but any student at Hope. This was one way for them to use their gifts.”
At first, 50 Hope students said they were interested in becoming tutors. Kopp eventually paired up 18 Hope students with Holland-area kids who raised their hands for help. And since day one, she has continued to provide support, communication and enthusiasm to all involved.
“There was a
yearning to give back and people did not know how at first,” and Finn. “Annie
helps us find that way. Hope College students love to serve, and we know that
they wanted to serve. And not just students in the education program but any student
at Hope. This was one way for them to use their gifts.”
As for working
with Kopp specifically, Finn has been impressed with the young woman’s fierce
desire to make a difference in her college’s hometown from several states away.
“I have appreciated Annie’s organization skills. She always on top of things,”
said Finn. “When she first emailed me, I told her it’s going take a good amount
of her time to do something like this. But she said, ‘That’s okay, I can do
this.’ And she has. She’s figured out different ways to navigate and negotiate
a new process. She really has been the spearhead.”
“I also think it’s good that Hope students realize that even when you are kind of in distress or don’t feel good, God always has a calling for you. There’s always someone else you can help. I think that’s important to remember.”
Kopp has a bigger hope for what she started beyond the time of
COVID-19. She sees broader benefits that are more than educational; she sees
them as emotional and spiritual as well.
“This could potentially bring Hope students to become regular
tutors during the regular school year. So, I think that’s exciting,” Kopp says.
“But I also think it’s good that Hope students realize that even when you are
kind of in distress or don’t feel good, God always has a calling for you.
There’s always someone else you can help. I think that’s important to remember.”
“I’m so proud of all of the helpers right now that are keeping Hope strong in this time of crisis. One person that is always at the top of my list, who probably will try his best to get out of being recognized so that others can be, is Carl Heideman. He has been working tirelessly to help keep everyone sane and focused, holding hands to guide everyone through these tough times. His capacity for empathy and reaching out seems to know no bounds, and he brings clarity of thought to every area he touches. I believe I speak on behalf of everyone at Hope when I say this: Thank you Carl, from the bottom of our hearts.”
— Eugene Kim, data warehouse and analytics architect, CIT
They have no props, or costumes, or scenery. But that’s a
not a problem and that’s not the point. What they do have is all that they
need: a play script, a Zoom room, and a gladness for a connection with friends
in the Hope community.
Every Monday night for the past three weeks, approximately 30 members of the Hope faculty have pulled up a chair in front of their home computers, opened the script of “Our Town” or “Shakespeare in Love” or “Borrowed Babies,” activated their creative juices, and collectively read aloud each play’s narrative while in character.
The idea for such a collaboration in this time of social
distancing came from Michelle
Bombe, professor of theatre and chairperson of the department.
“With theatre, when we are at our best, we give people ideas to think about and concepts to consider, but we also give them a little window into another world as a form of escape that people need, that people crave.”
“When Covid-19 first started, I thought, does what I do
matter? I wish I were a nurse. I wish I were doing something that was really of
help,” she said. “At some point, I thought, ‘No, I do have something.’ Theatre
can make a difference and satisfies my need to be of service in some way during
And as most things do in academia, it started with students
“Our (theatre) students are accustomed to having rehearsal
every night,” Bombe says. “And they are lost at sea right now with not having a
creative project, but also not having that creative community. It’s part of
what we do in theatre: create this sense of community by working on a piece of
So, since the spring production of “Twelfth Night” was cancelled
(postponed actually as it will be the opening production in the fall), every
Wednesday since late March, Bombe and her students have met to conduct play
readings. It’s been a release . . . and a revelation because she then thought,
why not do the same with her colleagues from across the Hope faculty? Perhaps
they are in need, and want, of a community to help them connect, process and
rethink their time physically away from each other, too?
“With theatre, when we are at our best, we give people ideas to think about and concepts to consider, but we also give them a little window into another world as a form of escape that people need, that people crave,” explains Bombe.
“But it’s also about the community around that escape. That’s what
the faculty have appreciated. Just the fact that they’re getting to see
everybody’s faces in a different way. I mean, it’s one thing to see each other
in a committee or department meeting on Zoom – and the faculty have been great
in those meetings to interject humor and not have it just be about business.
But it’s not the same thing as having a social time together. And that’s what
these play readings are doing for us.”
Dibble, associate professor of communication, concurs. As relational
communications specialist, he was drawn to the Monday night readings for their
connections that “transcend video screens and WiFi airwaves. Humans are social
creatures,” he says. “We find ways to connect even when we don’t have available
our preferred channels.”
His other rationale for taking a role in “Shakespeare in
Love”: He probably would have been watching a two-plus-hours movie anyway. “So
rather than watch a recording of drama,” he explains, “I could witness that
drama unfold live. And all this while getting a glimpse of my beloved Hope
Bombe chose “Our Town” for its meaning, “Shakespeare in
Love” for its fun, and “Borrowed Babies” for its message. “Our Town” in
particular was a crucial choice as the first play in the lineup. Launching the
project from good footing was a priority, and she found some of that strong
base when President
Matthew A. Scogin agreed to read the part of the Stage Manager, a role that
serves as a leader and spokesperson in the play to familiarize the audience
with various aspects of the town of Grover’s Corners.
“I have been so thankful to have Matt Scogin as our president as we go through this time,” she says, “because as a leader, he’s giving us direction and comfort with all kinds of things we need to hear as encouragement.”
“I also thought, we need something that’s going to help us
think about what we have, not what we lost,” Bombe explains. “That’s what I think ‘Our
Town’ is about. It helps us stop for a second and really look at our lives. And
that’s the gift, I think, that is coming out of this pause in our time of
hurry, hurry. Now we are forced to slow down.
“But I also feel incredibly guilty because I’m comfortable in my home,” she continues. “I have food and I have everything I need. And so many people don’t. So, I know it’s a double-edged sword here. But the gift that’s part of this is the fact that we’re all going to look at what we have and be so thankful. That’s what ‘Our Town’ means for me. It’s not the special things. It’s not the highlights. It’s the everyday part of life that matters.”
“I am very sad about the cancelled Hope Summer Repertory Theatre season, and this alleviates some of that sadness,” Joanne Stewart says.
Some colleagues like Dr. Joanne Stewart,
professor of chemistry, just drop in to listen and watch. Like Dibble, she is
gladdened by the community the readings provide as well as for their provision
for another purpose. “I am very sad about the cancelled Hope Summer Repertory Theatre season,
and this alleviates some of that sadness,” Stewart says.
Dibble has other takeaways, too, such as fond memories of “getting
to see more of some folks’ sense of play and lightheartedness. Realizing that
even if we’re physically separated, we can still create together. And we can
still laugh together.”
Oh, and this one last thing: “If you haven’t heard Sonja Trent-Brown’s cockney-accented nurse (for ‘Shakespeare in Love’), then you’re not living at all!”
“I want to note the wonderful contributions of (program manager) Laura McMullen and (associate provost) Dr. Gerald Griffin to our collective life as a campus and their tireless work on behalf of our students. The reimagining of the Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (CURCA) as a remote event, with students giving verbal presentations in virtual rooms, was inspired. It was also executed beautifully. Our students, many who would have been also giving off-campus presentations this semester if it were not for the current health crisis, had the opportunity to showcase their excellent work. Friends and parents joined the rooms and learned from their research. Alumni, friends of the college, and academics from across the country and world joined to participate in this event; some of them were wanting to learn about whether they too could coordinate such an event. Laura provided training for the moderators, worked with CIT to ensure a workable system, set up all of the rooms, and provided wonderful communication and encouragement to students. I am so grateful!”
— Dr. Lindsey Root Luna, associate professor of psychology
“I nominate Dr. Donald A. Luidens, director of the Van Raalte Institute, for his efforts to create and maintain an esprit de corps of our small group of dedicated scholars. Four weeks ago today, he initiated a daily round robin conversation in place of our daily coffee time, when we normally share insights gained from our research, talk about local, national and international news, or reminisce about past experiences. He has creatively put forward conversation starters and thoughtful reflections on how to think theologically about the covid-19 pandemic. Two weeks ago, he added a weekly Zoom coffee hour, when we can all see each other on screen and converse with each other.”
— Jack Nyenhuis, Director Emeritus, Van Raalte Institute
When freshman Jaclyn Klinger returned home to Noblesville, Indiana, on March 12 for Hope’s spring break and online classes that were supposed to last only until April 13, she decided to make the most of the situation and head back to work at Northridge Gracious Retirement Living, her place of employment while in high school. She thought working odd shifts for a few weeks at the senior independent living center would give her extra spending money and some flexibility.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic caused Indiana to declare stay-at-home orders on March 23 and when Hope’s temporary move to remote classes became permanent until the end of the spring semester, Klinger made a somewhat long-term decision, too. Instead of just taking shifts here and there, and instead of going back and forth from her home to work them, she decided to stay put at Northridge 24/7.
Klinger has been living there since March 24.
“I didn’t think that [the national crisis] would really get
to the point where it is right now so quickly,” says Klinger. “One of my
coworkers told me that our boss asked her if she wanted to move in, because
it’s just easier and safer being in the building. I was like, ‘That’s an
“So, I talked to my parents about it, and my mom, who is a nurse, said, ‘It honestly might be a better idea if you’re at the building because if I picked something up at the hospital, and you went into work and passed on the virus to a resident, I’d feel awful.’ So, I just decided to move in.”
Klinger and her co-workers now help in a myriad of different
ways at Northridge — serving meals to the residents’ doors, taking out their
trash, offering snacks on a cart, walking their dogs. Their small acts of
service are a huge help to residents who must stay put.
“Right now, the current state is that the residents are not
really allowed to leave their rooms,” she says. “We currently don’t have any
[COVID-19] cases in the building, but there are few other retirement homes in
the area that do have cases. I think they’re really just trying to increase the
safety of the residents and keeping them from sharing anything.”
An instrumental music education major who specializes on French horn, Klinger also plays the piano. Since a baby grand is located in a Northridge common area, she uses it every morning to practice or take her remote keyboard class with Professor Linda Strouf. “Sometimes they are just hearing my random, weird assignments,” Klinger laughs, “but they enjoy hearing the music, I think. They say it sounds nice.”
“She comes to my class every day with her work done and a smile on her face from making a difference in the world in which she is currently living,” says Strouf.
“Being here, I feel thankful that I’m able to work and that I’m healthy, too. I’m glad I can give back to residents with music or chats. It’s a reminder to be thankful for the really small things that we take for granted in a normal-life situation.”
While in the past, Klinger worked solely in the facility’s dining room, now she sees residents a bit more in their living environments, but always from a safe, social distance. She found out that one resident couple loves swing dance and another Trivia Night. One woman enjoys oil painting and recently gave Klinger one of her works of art. “I had just stopped by to offer her a snack, and she said, ‘You see those paintings over there. I paint those. Pick one and it’s yours.’ So, I have a small painting of a mountain range. It was so sweet.”
Though she talks with her parents and sister almost every
day (and sees them occasionally when they drop off personal goods and laundry),
Klinger knows that living and working at Northridge during this crisis has
given her a new appreciation for both the generation she serves as well as her
“Their everyday life has changed so much. They miss their friends who live down the hall, just like I miss mine at Hope,” Klinger reflects. “But they’re super thankful that they’re still healthy, that they can still get up and walk around and take care of themselves.
“So, it’s nice to think about that when I feel bummed out
about not being back at Hope. That’s the hardest thing for me. I don’t get to
finish my semester. I felt like I was getting close to all these people I was
meeting. And now, it’s all cut off.
“But being here, I feel thankful that I’m able to work and that
I’m healthy, too. I’m glad I can give back to residents with music or chats. It’s
a reminder to be thankful for the really small things that we take for granted
in a normal-life situation.”
“My shout-out goes to Amy Otis (senior director) and the entire Center for Global Engagement team for their tireless work with international students and all students who were studying abroad this semester. They have all been going above and beyond, every day. Amy’s work on the coronavirus started back in January and she hasn’t stopped since. Thank you, Amy and team, for making sure that Hope students are well cared for. You are amazing!” — An appreciative, anonymous observer