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Eye on the Horizon

Image of a bird singing from a branch looking out onto the horizon and the sun with the words

On Wednesday March 11th, I taught my usual four classes of Italian and said to my students, “who knows if this will be our last days together on campus.“ I passed out some hand sanitizer to whomever wanted some and some chocolate Easter eggs as I knew it wouldn’t be much longer that we too would be going online. I usually would bring in traditional Italian treats for all the holidays for my students, but this time it felt different, so I shared some chocolates with each class that week. Looking at what was going on in Italy those days and weeks told me we weren’t far behind. That evening, I went straight to the immediate care center after work as I felt something was wrong. I had lost my voice and had a very bad sore throat those last weeks so I was tested for strep throat, but it came back negative. I went straight to the store to pick up some cough lozenges, food and to fill my gas tank. It just felt like we would not be returning to UIC anytime soon and if I was going to be stuck at home for a while I wanted to be as prepared as possible. That’s exactly what happened!

A day or two later, a very touching video was posted on YouTube from Italians from Siena, Italy singing their national Palio horse race song. I know that song all too well as I have taken around 400 UIC students to Siena in the faculty led programs that I began at UIC back in 2006. It was cancelled this summer because of COVID-19 and it saddens my students and I. I know it would have been another memorable and successful study abroad program.

In the following two weeks of UIC spring break, we worked endlessly to get acquainted with online teaching within our department. I’m very proud to say the semester ended on a high note with what seemed to be very content students although it was an emotional time for all of us. Some students lost a parent or grandparent or sibling. I had dear friends in Italy in hospitals with COVID and some are still hospitalized as of today. I pray for a healthy future for all of us and a safe return to UIC because nothing beats in-class teaching.

–Prof. Maria Iusco, Faculty