Mandira Panta ’20: The world isn’t ready for us

In this series, graduating seniors from the Class of 2020 share their thoughts and reflections as their final semester comes to an end in ways that no one ever expected. 

Mandira Panta

On March 11, we received the first notice about the shift to online classes. Less than a week after that, my friends had started packing, booking flights back home, and the days were filled with expedited blurred goodbyes. It’s been almost a whole month since and I am yet to process everything that happened and is happening. On April 15, my friends and I did our capstone presentation through zoom. After it ended, it brought a stark realization that this is it. I am almost done with my undergraduate degree but it lacks the recognition and closure that I was anticipating.

I am a first-generation college student and commencement was supposed to be “the moment.” Now, I think about it, I had my life planned out almost too well. Commencement. May Term at Merry Lea. Go back to Nepal. An internship waiting for me. Return to start my graduate degree. Now, I am not sure. My flights are booked but both the host and the home country have travel restrictions. Internship is cancelled. And I am more unsure than I have ever been before.

I am a sustainability studies major and if there’s anything I learned in the last four years, it is that the human race is doomed unless we do something. But knowing this does not bring any relief. As Goshen students, we learned about finding strength in adversity, unity in difference, and peace within chaos. As graduates, we are now expected to translate that in this current situation and create a positive difference in our communities. Class of 2020 — who have worked hard, and saved, and planned at least the next 20 steps into our future in order to create our own space — are about to enter a world that isn’t ready for them. I can only hope that despite all the chaos, we are able to meaningfully contribute to the world that is drastically changing as we stumble through the last leg of our college journey.

Mandira Panta is a sustainability studies and biology major from Bhaktapur, Nepal. She is a co-founder of Ecotiva Collective and a Campus Climate Ambassador at Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions.