Relief for a weary world — and weary feet

By Kelvin Nuñez

Hamilton College

My feet understood the campus by late April.  Or so I thought.

They experienced the ups and downs and the ins and outs of the Hamilton terrain. They took me to the basketball court, then they failed me when somehow, I tripped over imaginary pebbles. I splashed through puddles and performed the splits on spilt salad.

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Then, bracing for an early spring, snow swirled in New York City. There I was shivering, frozen feet and all.   

A snowfall in late April in New York City did little to lift spirits on campus. KELVIN NUNEZ

I knew the miseries of winter would end soon. However, I wasn’t sure when this modern-day plague of COVID-19 would go away.

College shaped my feet and helped me navigate a world that was upended by a devasting pandemic.  

When I first got to Hamilton, I did not fully realize the costs associated with a college education or the opportunities available to me. I only thought of my rotten luck of having to miss my prom and having to start college amid a pandemic. Like many other students, I attended class virtually.  Often, my connection lagged, and the Wi-fi cried. 

On the bright side of things, my professors and classmates checked in on me. Those relationships showed me no matter the situation, there are always friends to be made. They asked if I was okay, and in these crazy times, that was all I needed. 

I recall one of my professors who empathized with my pain as Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old African American man not responding to Philadelphia police commands, was shot dead in late October. I recall last year’s stressful presidential election. My professors comforted me during the entire ordeal including the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

Students wait in line to be served from a new food truck that was put into service after a campus-wide protest for better meals. KELVIN NUNEZ

I felt anxious but through conversation and communication my worries waned.  I experienced the humanity of others beyond a screen.

This last semester has changed me and those around me. Compared to the fall, I fought the desire to order out, an indication the campus food and my self-restraint had improved.  I enjoyed the freshman programs and free swag drops. Hamilton found ways to strengthen our morale and we are grateful. 

My resilient classmates grew stronger. Whether it was encouraging words for a discouraged student, or a celebration for a paper well written, everybody came together.

My feet and the rest of my body strengthened as most students received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

And now with an end hopefully in sight, we can breathe more freely. We pulled through, not only on campus, but across the world. It’s an example of the human spirit. 

Perhaps my numb feet can get some much-needed relief.

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