The ACT-ES program is privileged to be international. Having students from all corners of the world, this season has allowed us to visit different homes and experience life from hardships leading most importantly to growth. We are not promised that anything will be easy, but it will be alright. As for now, let us journey to Canada.
April 15th, I boarded a flight from Tokyo to Vancouver. A week earlier, I had made the decision to weather out the uncertainties of the COVID-19 global pandemic in my little hometown in rural British Columbia. This choice was a difficult but necessary one; I was run-down from two and a half years of what many would say was a bad case of overextending myself, and my anxiety due to the prospects of being stranded in Japan was rising daily. I felt a large surge of guilt surrounding leaving my fellow exchange students and returning to my hometown when many of us had no option but to wait out the pandemic in Japan, but I knew that I needed to trust in whatever path was set out for each of us, and mine was to return to Canada.
When I returned home, I spent the first fourteen days in isolation with my mom. My brother and dad slept downstairs so they could commute to work, and my mother and I had the main floor to ourselves to do puzzles, watch Anne with an E, and become heated over social justice issues. Perhaps there is no better example of this shift in priority than the BLM movement that has been shaking the USA. Isolation gave me time to do extra reading on these issues, and to explore how racial inequity and the climate crisis are deeply intertwined. Naturally, I’ve found my passions for the environment and social justice becoming more nuanced as I grow older, but it’s perhaps in the times when we’re quiet and sit with ourselves that visions of God’s kingdom as it is meant to be, becomes clear.
For lack of a better word, my spring term was idyllic. I spent most of my time resting, studying, journaling, and wandering the paths in the forests around my home looking for wildflowers and exotic mosses. I’ve learned there are many ways in which a body and soul need to be taken care of and being in this restful period has helped me to see the aches and pains, both personal and collective, and address them. It’s been a little lonely with all of my friends scattered across the globe, but this time to myself has helped me to be intentional in reaching out to those who I care about, and I have even had the time to rekindle some old friendships. It’s almost surreal how quickly this strange time has become normal, and how much joy is buried in both the unprecedented and the mundane.
As it stands, I am still barred from returning to Japan because the government has frozen all student visas indefinitely. This uncertainty surrounding my return to TCU in the fall helped encourage me to explore other options, and I ended up applying for an exchange at a university in Canada. I was accepted to the program, and I will be moving to Vancouver in the fall with friends of a friend where I will be taking courses online from both my Canadian and Japanese university. I believe I am being taught how to make the most of wherever I am placed, and I hope to approach my new classes and living environment with enthusiasm and vigour. I am thankful to be home, and I am trusting that whatever life throws at me, I will be able to approach what comes with gratitude and joy.
To those waiting to return to TCU weather it out and be reminded,
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
De Vries, Koryn Laurissa (Senior)