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Coping Together: New Online Series Builds Resilience, Community in Socially Distant Times

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Students, faculty, staff join together online to build community, offer mutual support

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

As we near the one-year anniversary of the spring 2020 lockdown, Dickinson is creating a virtual space to join together and reflect on shared experiences during the past year and build and strengthen a sense of community in socially distant times.

The Dickinson Copes series brings students, faculty and staff together online from 5 to 5:30 p.m. each Wednesday. It includes a brief talk by a faculty or staff member about how the pandemic has reshaped their lives and the strategies they use to promote calming, resilience and connection. Attendees are also invited to share their own pandemic experiences if they wish.

“We wanted a reflective, contemplative space where we could take a break from our busy days and acknowledge each other’s stories—a place to slow down and breathe and just be together,” says Don Domenici, executive director of Dickinson’s Wellness Center, who co-organized the event with Todd Nordgren, director of the Office of LGBTQ Services, and Marley Weiner, director of the Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life.

“Our hope in convening this space is that students, staff and faculty feel less alone in what can often be a very isolating time,” says Weiner. “They’ll hear from other members of the community facing similar challenges, gain advice and wisdom in techniques that promote calming and resilience, and just generally be together.”

That’s important for all members of the Dickinson community. It's perhaps particularly so for students in the class of 2024 and other new Dickinsonians, including Nordgren, who joined Dickinson at the start of the fall 2020 remote semester.

The series kicked off Wednesday, Feb. 10, with President Margee Ensign as guest speaker. During her brief remarks, Ensign shared that self-care, including regular exercise, the support of family and the knowledge that she’d successfully navigated past challenges helped her remain healthy and grounded.

“What’s also really helped me get through is my strong belief that when we come together as a community, we can come through absolutely anything,” Ensign said.

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Published February 12, 2021

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