Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Transformation

By Stephanie Kepke Kaplan P’24 

I don’t mean to alarm you, but there’s a stranger in your home. Oh sure, that person sprawled on your couch, eating all your food, may look familiar, but rest assured the person you thought you knew has transformed into a…college student. Franz Kafka couldn’t have penned a bigger transformation. A college student is very different from a high school student. High school students had a curfew and ate meals at set times. College students are used to coming and going as they please and having tons of food available any time they desire with just a swipe of a card. College students are used to staying up all night and not having to answer to anyone (as you may have figured out when texts or phone calls sometimes go unanswered, until you’re pacing with worry only to finally have your phone chime three days later—been there)… 

This may be the first time you see your college student since drop-off three months ago. Three months might not seem like a long time, but at the age of eighteen or nineteen (or seventeen), it really is, especially with all the changes that living on one’s own brings. To be sure, commuting students go through their own transformation—having two myself I can attest to that—but it’s more subtle when you see your student every day. For my youngest, who’s a freshman now, the transformation has been a joy to watch. He was not really social in high school, being on the autism spectrum. He had a small group of close friends, and they would hang out at one house. Now, he has joined clubs and has made lots of new friends. He stays on campus until late at night, hanging out in the game room or Hof USA. He’s found his tribe. But, back to the student who comes home for the first time at Thanksgiving… 

While it is amazing to have this newly minted adult back in your home, it can be an adjustment. But, here’s the thing…your child has had tons of new experiences and that should be your jumping off point. Ask about everything with open-ended questions. Be engaged and interested. Put down your phone and really focus. And if your student doesn’t want to talk yet and just wants to sleep or see high school friends or veg in front of the TV, that’s fine too. It’s a long weekend with lots of opportunities to reconnect. When you do get a chance to chat, be sure to ask about some of the amazing cultural opportunities at Hofstra. My son went to see Hamilton on Broadway with his freshman seminar class! Your student will have similar stories to share.  

If your student is struggling, then listening with an open mind is also the best approach. My middle son, who is a junior now, was really struggling freshman year and the first semester of sophomore year. I sat down with him, and we had a conversation about his passions. I read every major description out loud to him, leading him to an epiphany—music is his passion and music business (with a performance concentration) would be the perfect major for him. He’s in his second year in the program now, and he loves it. His grades are the highest they’ve ever been. Always remember, your student’s major freshman year isn’t a lock for the next four years. There’s lots of fluidity allowed, and changing majors is sometimes the best solution.  

This Thanksgiving, take a moment to be grateful for your amazing child and all the growth that has occurred in three short months. And while he/she/they may seem like a stranger—at least at first—the child you love is there and so happy to reconnect with you at this special time.  


 

Monday, October 24, 2022

How to get into the Halloween Spirit

It’s time to welcome a new season! Fall is here and there are so many activities to get you into the Autumn mood. Whether you prefer to stay in and paint a pumpkin with a warm cup of apple cider, or go out for a walk through fields of corn, the options are endless in how we can enjoy the new season.

This time of year can be overwhelming for students as they are taking on midterm exams, and adjusting to the colder weather and earlier sunset, while also balancing their individual responsibilities. Through these experiences, it is important for their families to remind them to take a step back and welcome the new season. It could be a refreshing feeling to acknowledge the changes going on in their environment.


Visit a pumpkin patch

Just 20 minutes from Hofstra’s campus is F&W Schmitt’s Family Farm in Melville. Here you can walk through a huge field with hundreds of rows filled with pumpkins for you to take home! There are hayrides, a corn maze, a petting zoo, mini golf, a haunted house, and more. The Melville farm even has concession stands to satisfy your craving for freshly roasted corn during your visit. You can check out their website at https://schmittfarms.com/fall-faq/ for more details.


Paint a pumpkin

For those who prefer to nestle up in the warmth of their bedroom: ring in the Fall with some pumpkin painting! Now for those who are not confident in their artistic abilities, consider the fact that art has been known to decrease stress and is often used in therapy to reflect, express, and decompress. You may find that something as simple as painting polka dots on the pumpkin can give you a chance to step away from your work or school, and allow you to tap into your inner child.


Grab a coffee and bite to eat

Feeling spooky? Journey down Hempstead Turnpike and grab a bite to eat at the Witches Brew!  This witch themed cafe is festive and delicious. The menu offers lots of amazing vegan dishes, as well as tasty treats and coffees. What better way to get in the Halloween spirit than dining at the Witches Brew? https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064931132207&paipv=0&eav=AfbwiBrvWsj6yiBfhluly5Rda6fSZo_Q5fulqOg6XwARXlvwt5wMQZwa2MCfBB_c4X4


See a movie

Kick back and enjoy the show! Prepared to be scared out of your seats while watching the newest edition to the Halloween trilogy, Halloween Ends.  Make a trip to the movies right down the road from campus at AMC Roosevelt Field 8 - Garden City, New York 11530.


Hoftoberfest

Join the Caribbean Student Association for a Halloween party in Hofstra USA. $5 tickets available in advance of the event, and $10 tickets available at the door .https://news.hofstra.edu/event/haunted-the-ultimate-halloween-fete/

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

A Journey Through Hofstra's Museum

By Logan Grasso

If you ever wake up from a dream confused, know that it’s because there is no more disorienting thing than living in reality.

Broaden your mind with each stygian stroke of ink. Open your eyes to the iridescent canvas collection interspersed by immaculate emulsion. View the world as it was meant to be seen. 

Standing at the center of Hofstra’s Museum, through the soles of my shoes, I could feel them. The rapid beating of a thousand wings. It’s that same sensation when ideas take flight. Just below the ground, the vibrations of my thoughts were all I felt. Frantic, screeching, untamed. Circling in the pitch black darkness of my mind until radiant colors gave them meaning. 

Whether you purposely search for a deeper meaning to art or not, the experience alone is bound to give you the insight that you crave. Thoughts can be conveyed through visual means, a perfect picture brought to life before your very eyes. A transmission of sound or written words form an image in your mind until what you see internally is crafted into reality. 

Photographs capturing that materiality are placed in the same exhibition. Windows to your imagination show the world as it is, monochrome and in dire need of the sun’s vibrant splashing sunbeams. Illuminate those pictures with your perception as you peer closely. See through the smog of smokeshafts and relish in the stretch of a city’s promise to be better.

Enter the realm of abstract thoughts by stepping foot in Hofstra University’s Museum of Art. Fresh Off The Press printworks meshed with phenomenal photographs are available to you completely free of admission. August 16 2022 to January 27 2023 provides you with ample opportunity to relish in the realism of these art pieces. September 6 to December 9th 2022 will give you additional articulacy to consider should you find yourself longing for more. 

(Both can be found at Emily Lowe Gallery and David Filderman Gallery, Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library on the south side of campus.)

Once you establish your discernment of what you see, share those conceptions with others! September 8th 2022 will mark the celebration of the exhibition where light refreshments will be made available 4:30 - 6:30 PM. Admission is free, but be sure to RSVP to 516.463.5672!

(Located at Emily Lowe Gallery, behind Emily Lowe Hall. South Campus.)

October 6th 2022 will welcome Guest Curator Susannah Ray, who will be leading a tour of the gallery from 4:00 to 5:00 PM. Should you wish to not be alone with your enlightenment of the exhibit, this will be a great opportunity to learn more about the displayed pieces. Again, admission is free, but you should RSVP quickly to 516.463.5672!

(Located at Emily Lowe Gallery, behind Emily Lowe Hall. South Campus.)

And lastly, should you wish to learn about the methods of printmaking that led to these artworks’ creations, join the Director and Exhibition Curator Karen T. Albert on November 3rd from 4:00 to 5:00 PM for an elaborative explanation completely free of admission! Thoroughly explore the varying techniques of intaglio, lithography, and more! Just RSVP to 516.463.5672!

(Located at David Filderman Gallery, Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library. Ninth Floor. South Campus.)

The next time you lay your head to rest and close your eyes, try visualizing what you see at the exhibit and your dreams may just very well turn into reality!

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Grow As We Go

My name is Aleyana Boothe. I am entering my junior year this fall semester majoring in Urban Ecology and minoring in Sustainability Studies. As a first-year student in the fall of 2020, I was determined not to let COVID interfere with my college experience. I decided to get involved on campus by joining clubs such as UNICEF, LEAF Club (our university’s environmental club), and SGA (Student Government Association).


In the spring of 2021, I communicated my interest in working on sustainability initiatives to a few SGA cabinet members.  I was directed to reach out to Ms. Branka Kristic (Director of Parent and Family Programs) as she was working on the addition of a family garden to our campus with our university’s Parent Council. I emailed her to suggest the inclusion of pollinator plants in the  

garden, to spread awareness about protecting bees and other pollinators. This email gave me the opportunity to be invited to the Parent Council meeting where Mr. Fred Soviero (Director of Grounds and Arboretum) addressed the creation of the Hofstra Family Garden. Afterwards, I attended a meeting with Mr. Houston Dougharty (Vice President of Student Affairs), Ms. Branka Kristic, and Mr. Demetrios Mihailidis (Vice President of the Hofstra Parent Council) to discuss the plan for the Hofstra Family Garden. We brainstormed and discussed various strategies to promote the family garden and focused on how students can become more involved.


The Hofstra Family Garden Logo Competition became the first project I worked on at Hofstra. From the end of the spring into the beginning of the fall, I communicated and met with various individuals to conduct the logo competition. In mid-fall of 2021, we formed a committee to choose the logo out of twenty-eight submissions to be the official logo for the Hofstra Family Garden. At our announcement event held in the student center atrium, we gave out participation gifts, announced our runners-up, and the winner, who was Joseph Pergola, a first-year student.


Additionally, in the spring of 2022 (this past semester), I organized an activity under the SGA Programming Committee to generate an uplifting playlist that would be located in the Family Garden. The only way students could access the playlist was through the QR code located in the garden which would get more students familiar with its location. While the QR code was in the garden it was scanned over forty times by current students, prospective students, and parents/guardians. 

Furthermore, the LEAF Club alongside other sustainability-involved students joined in the 

greenhouse to start growing plants propagated by Dr. Bennington (Chair of the GES (Geology, Environment, Sustainability) Department) early in the spring semester. Mr. Fred Soviero, Mr. Michael Runkel (Assistant Director of Grounds and Arboretum), and I used some of those pollinator plants in the Family Garden.


This upcoming academic year, there are plans to expand the Hofstra Family Garden as more pollinator gardens are added to our campus. There will be two pollinator gardens added to the academic side of our campus, one being located beside our admission building and the other by Monroe Hall.

Additionally, I will continue to work on my goal of more students finding out about the garden and its value to our campus.


When I came to Hofstra, working on projects related to a university family garden was not what I 

envisioned myself doing, but I could not be more thankful for being given this opportunity. I 

have learned so much from working on these projects with such amazing members of the Hofstra community. I am excited to see what other Family Garden projects I will complete during my last two years at Hofstra and the projects that may be completed after I graduate.


Aleyana Boothe

Student Representative of the Hofstra Family Garden





Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Triumph Over Failure

Stephanie Kepke

Failure is a part of life, and it often leaves one stronger and wiser. But…when it’s our students who are failing college classes, it can leave parents feeling disappointed, frustrated, confused and even angry. After all, college is not a small investment and to see both your dollars and the opportunities afforded by attending a prestigious institution, such as Hofstra, squandered is upsetting. It may seem hopeless, but I’m here to tell you that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

You see, my son, Joshua, failed three classes in the first semester of his sophomore year in fall 2020. Looking back, it was a perfect storm. Covid was raging. Some of his classes were virtual, but most were in-person. He had a severe phobia of covid tests at the time (which, thankfully, he has gotten over), so he missed his mandatory covid test, due to an anxiety attack, and was therefore not allowed to return to campus. Thanks to his attention deficit disorder, he struggled mightily with a full schedule of virtual classes. To top it all off, he was in a major that was not the right fit for him, even though he had just switched into it the semester before from another major that was not a good fit.

When I clicked on my ebill statement on the Hofstra portal in the dawning days 2021, I was hit with a bit of sticker shock. Joshua had lost his scholarship…or so we thought. Telling him he had to withdraw from school was excruciating, but without his scholarship we simply could not afford for him to return. He decided to take a gap semester before transferring to community college to at least try for an associate’s degree. He always had an interest in real estate, so we bought him a real estate course, so he could study for his license during his time off. We were all quite despondent, to be honest—this wasn’t just something that affected Joshua. As a parent, when your child’s dreams are shattered, yours are, as well.

Another disappointing aspect for me that had nothing to do with Joshua was dropping out of Parent Council. I truly enjoyed the meetings and cherished the friendships I had made. It pained me to let Branka Kristic, Director of Parent and Family Programs, know that I would not be attending any more meetings. However, that one email changed the trajectory of Joshua’s life in ways we couldn’t even imagine at the time.

Upon hearing that I would not be returning to Parent Council, since Joshua had dropped out of school, Branka sprung into action. She immediately called me to let me know that not all hope

was lost and advocated for Joshua, calling the bursar’s office to see if he had indeed lost his scholarship, since generally scholarship reviews take place at the end of each academic year, not the end of the semester. I could have sworn I saw a message that said, “Insufficient grades” and a $25,000+ price tag when I initially tried to pay the spring bill. But, Branka let me know that Joshua did still have his scholarship and he would be welcomed back to campus, should he decide to return. It was nothing short of a miracle.

While Joshua felt that it was too late for him to return for Spring Semester 2021, as it was two weeks in already and it would be difficult to make up the work he missed, he set about making plans to return for Fall Semester 2021. The first order of business was deciding what he was truly passionate about—not what he felt he should major in, but what he’d love to major in if pursuing his dreams did not crash into the reality of a post-graduation job search. He had switched majors from radio production to political science for the Spring Semester 2021 (he entered Hofstra as a psychology major), but he never actually took even a single class in political science…

After lots of discussion and soul-searching, he came to the conclusion that I had suspected would be best for him all along—music was his passion and that was what he’d truly love to study. I knew this from the time he was in high school and first applying to colleges. I encouraged him to apply to music programs, as he’s wildly talented, even being self-taught. He thought it would be impractical for the future, so he fought it and by not following his dreams, he struggled and failed multiple classes. He earned a .42 GPA for Fall Semester 2020. Discovering the BS in Music Business program, which includes music performance studies, combined with Branka’s advocacy changed Joshua’s life for the better, and here’s where the story gets really good…

Joshua went from that .42 GPA for Fall Semester 2020 to a 3.47 GPA when he returned to Hofstra in Fall Semester 2021. In fact, in his major he now has a 3.70 GPA. He loves his classes. He’s even found his “tribe” after difficulties in making new friends as a commuter. He’s in several music clubs, both performance and business-based and performs in the Percussion Ensemble and the Jazz Ensemble. Their upcoming concerts are free and open to the public, so if you are local you can catch all the talented students on both April 23rd (Jazz Ensemble) and May 9th (Percussion Ensemble). He also has performed as a musical guest on Thursday Night Live and Two Weeks notice, both shows Hofstra’s HEAT network, as part of the backing band for rapper Official X. He just recorded a song for one of his classes, on which he plays all the instruments.

His professor liked it so much, he sent it to the music supervisor of an indie movie. Joshua’s friend used it for a short movie he filmed, and even though I truly hate to brag…it really is pretty amazing.

On second thought, bragging is actually important in this situation. And you know why? I’ll tell you…the whole point of this essay is to let you know that even if your student is struggling, there is hope. You and your student just need to do a couple of things. First, reach out to Branka at the office of Student and Parent Services. She is a true gem and can help you with literally any situation that comes up. She’s a treasure and always has students’ and families’ best interests at heart. If there is a way to help your student (and there is always a way), she will find it and point you in the right direction.

Branka helped us tremendously in the process of filing an appeal to get Joshua’s scholarship reinstated, because even though he didn’t lose it for the Spring Semester 2021, he did lose it after taking an academic leave of absence. But, knowing whom to speak with and how to go about the appeal process made everything so much smoother and, as I’m sure you can figure out, Joshua’s scholarship was reinstated with no problems, thankfully. Marc Oppenheim, Dean of the Center for University Advising, was also extremely helpful. He met with me and Joshua via Zoom to really help with Joshua’s path going forward. Take advantage of all the people at Hofstra who want your student to succeed. They’re there to help.

The second thing you and your student must do is have a serious conversation about your student’s passions. The old saying, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” applies to college, as well (that quote—or some variant of it—has been attributed to everyone from Confucius to Tim Cook). If your student studies what he/she/they love, it’s not really work and success is pretty much guaranteed. And the best part about that? Studying what you love in college leads to a life of doing what you love.

It might take a bit of experimenting—Joshua first auditioned for the Music Business BS (with music performance) as a bass major. That’s not really his first instrument, and he did not get into the program and was placed in the Music Business BA program (purely a business program for non-musician students). However, he did get accepted as a percussionist into the BS performance program right after he returned to Hofstra, and he absolutely LOVES it. The drums are his first

love, and he’s been soaring to new heights in his private studies with world-renowned percussionist, Sean Ritenauer. Professor Ritenauer is also the director of the Percussion Ensemble and the opportunity to study with him one-on-one and in a group setting is something Joshua would never have experienced if Branka didn’t pick up the phone and call me after I emailed her that I wouldn’t be returning to Parent Council. And for that we are forever grateful. So, do not give up hope if your student is struggling. Reach out to Branka, talk to your student, brainstorm what gives your student joy, and before you know it, you’ll be celebrating your student’s success.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Public Safety Launches New Program

 Rida Shah

The Public Safety department is holding ‘Dishin’ with the Director’ in room 111 in the Mack Center every Wednesday at 1-2 pm. This is a fun and interactive way the Hofstra community can reach out and meet with the director of Public Safety, Gerri Hart, without an appointment necessary. This is a great opportunity for students to drop-in and leave suggestions for improvements because of its timing during common hours.  As a Hofstra student myself, I know the importance of having an opportunity to reach out to those that care about the community deeply, such as the Public Safety department. This event gives a wonderful chance to meet the director and see the people behind the scenes that help keep the community safe. Other services provided by the University are the Hofstra Shuttle and ‘Safe Walk’. When I was a freshman, I was very new to the area- even though I was from Long Island myself. Through some other students and professors, I found out about the Hofstra Shuttle. The Hofstra Shuttle provides safe and quick transportation to and from certain locations such as the nearby grocery store or the shopping center. Another benefit of the shuttle is that it has a route to the nearby train station. Since we’re so close to New York City many professors plan trips to the city and the shuttle helps us greatly- especially with such large groups of students. Another plus is, during the holiday season and breaks there are extra hours in which the shuttle will operate- including routes to the nearby airport. Another great service provided by the University is the ‘Safe Walk’ program. As a freshman I used to feel a bit uncomfortable walking to my car at night but Public Safety offers this wonderful program in which not only do officers accompany students to and from their cars during very early and very late hours, but student patrol officers as well! Having students help in patrolling not only takes off the workload from the already hardworking officers but also the embarrassment that may be felt from students who call for this. It helps students reach out to others and be able to help, creating a wonderful community that interchanges and interacts.





Tuesday, December 7, 2021

How We Decided to Send Our Only Son Off to College Far Away from Home during the Pandemic: Part 1

 Biljana D. Obradović

We began preparing for my only son’s college in his eleventh grade. His high school, Benjamin Franklin, the best public high school in the state of Louisiana, was great in letting us know how to do it. There were all kinds of sessions for parents and visits by different colleges from all around the country and the world. Since I am an immigrant, originally from Europe, we thought about his going abroad, maybe to Trinity College, or to American colleges in Paris or Rome. Some of my son’s friends were thinking of going to Canada. As we travel overseas each year and spend a substantial time during our summer breaks in “the old country,” I knew right away that I would not be OK with our son living overseas on his own for college. There would be too many unknowns.  If I needed to get to him, I could not, and what if he got sick? I just was not prepared for that. He could go for a semester abroad during his undergraduate years, but even though he had never been away from us for more than a few days, I knew that he should go anywhere he wanted to in the US. We are not from New Orleans originally, not even from the South (my husband is from Pennsylvania), so we’d let him go anywhere he wanted to…well, sort of. He, on his own, opted not to even look at schools in California and the West for his undergraduate studies, but would keep that area in mind possibly for his graduate study.

But, to get back to how our son made his college choices….Either our son, my husband or I went to these school college events. We took detailed notes that we shared with each other and our son when we could, when we were not busy teaching Creative Writing and English classes at two different universities in New Orleans. We’re both poets. So it was rather a surprise that, out of the blue, our son got interested in filmmaking, on his own, in eighth grade at the private school we sent him to from K-8th grade. He began to make short stop motion movies with his Legos. He was always creative—not much of a surprise. But making movies?

Why not? We suggested that he could try to get into the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. He prepared a film for the audition on his own and got in, but was on the waiting list, so he had to wait a year. He made another and got in his sophomore year, then spent three years going to both high schools. He knew what he wanted to study in college his junior year. He was always interested in History and Geography, and loved flags…Also both of his grandfathers were diplomats, and his paternal grandmother is an immigrant like me. So, he decided that he would double major in Filmmaking and International/Global Affairs. So now that that was settled, we needed to find colleges that had both of those as majors and/or minors.

The World Wide Web is too wide. We weren’t sure where to look. So, in October 2019, of my son’s junior year I bought a great book on colleges in the US: The Complete Book of Colleges, 2020 Edition: The Mega-Guide to 1,359 Colleges and Universities (College Admissions Guides) published by the Princeton Review. It was very useful, but didn’t have the majors separated….So, I also borrowed a book from the local library which showed universities by the majors. So you could look at Filmmaking and it showed all the colleges in the US (and some overseas) that had the major. Not every university called each major the same thing, so sometimes it was Global Studies, sometimes something else, like International Affairs, but often it was the same thing or similar…We picked a bunch of colleges that had both majors, and that we knew by reputation; after all both my husband and I are college professors. Then we looked at each one in the other book, the one I had bought, and we began comparing, and then on their websites. Some of the universities had come to my son’s school campuses—both of his schools had college visiting them, so he had talked to people from some of the schools we were looking at already. The city also had a big college fair and I went to check it out, got a lot of handouts, lots of information.

Things were progressing smoothly… When my son and I visited my mother-in-law for Easter that year in Philadelphia, my son’s first cousin showed him around the campus of the University of Pennsylvania where she and her two siblings were at college. We had visited some other schools in the past on our own. So we decided to visit the colleges in Louisiana first, right at the start of the school year. There was only one possible school our son would be interested just two hours away by car from us (he could come home on weekends!), and it would practically be free tuition as our son would qualify for the in-state funding for colleges—

Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS). But, it was in a smaller city, and the opportunities for filmmaking and for being exposed to world views at the school just didn’t seem to be there…So that was another reason for our son to go elsewhere. Most of his classmates from the private school days were going to LSU. He had wanted to go there when he was four, but definitely not anymore. He was never interested in sports…  

We decided during the winter break that our son and I would go to visit my friends in Indiana at the end of February 2020, so we could look at some colleges in the Midwest. We booked our flights. But in January, something unexpected happened. There was a virus called Corona Virus spreading like wild fire all around the world. A few cases had already been detected in the US. I looked for facial cloth masks on the internet and found a package of three black ones that arrived just in time for us to get on the plane for Chicago. Nowhere else could you find masks for sale. No one except for the two of us had masks on the plane or at the airport. Everyone looked at us like we were total weirdos.

We had been to Europe in summer of 2019, first to the “home country” and then to the South of France and then to Paris following the steps of the Impressionist painters.  After we returned, our son got very sick. He had a very high fever for nine days that would not go away and he also a rash on his body. The epidemiologist at the Children’s Hospital looking at his lung X-ray told us he had dots on his lungs. Our son was being attacked by some unidentifiable bacteria. It was a scary time. Everywhere we had gone to in France, there were mostly Asians wearing masks over their faces and gloves on their hands. Did they know something we did not? Once our son recovered and the dots disappeared from his lungs, I wasn’t going to chance anything, so we put on those new, black masks, just in case. When our friends picked us up from the airport, they were shocked to see us wearing the masks, not realizing that mask-wearing would soon become part of our everyday lives. We toured the universities and were the only ones wearing masks at each school. We visited ten universities there.

Those were the last ones we would visit due to COVID restrictions, but we did not know that at the time. We had to do virtual tours from then on as COVID spread drastically. One could not travel anywhere…But we managed and made up our minds eventually. We never visited the school our son would eventually attend before he made up his mind to go there. In fact, we had not flown anywhere (not to Europe, that’s for sure), until he and I got a plane to New York City in August 2021 for him to begin his college on Long Island in person, now vaccinated, but still wearing a mask. We took AMTRAC in June to NYC for his orientation, and to leave seven bags with an old friend from the American school I went to in Greece who lived close by. What are friends for during difficult times then to help each other…Even though I had not seen him in twenty years, he picked us up with his truck, loaded the bags, kept them for two months, and when we came in August helped us move my son into his dorm. Amazing!

All was well…except that Hurricane Ida had other ideas. She appearing suddenly while my son and I were busy moving him in. My husband stayed home.  Ida hit New Orleans on August 29th, 2021, sixteen years to the day of Katrina which had destroyed the first floor of our house and everything in it (including all of our two-year old son’s baby toys), so that we could not live there for a year. I didn’t know what to do. I was in a hotel room by myself when PTSD hit me. Would we lose our house again? Would we lose our jobs? How will we pay for our son’s college then? I was stranded. I could not go back to New Orleans. The airport was closed The power was out.…Who knows how long it would take before I could go back. I immediately called my Indiana friends, and they said to come stay with them. I rebooked my flight and flew to Chicago. I found out from my husband that our house was OK, except for a few living-room leaks, and shingles off the roof, the bent fence. He saved our furniture, rugs, floors, by being there…But the city was not OK and would take a while for things to be OK again. But the levees held this time. We did not get flooded this time.

I suddenly realized we had made the right decision for our son. He was safe (even though two days later Ida flooded basements of three friends in New York and New Jersey, who had kindly offered for me to stay with them, including the friend who had kept my son’s bags). My husband endured 90 degrees heat for a week. I was in Indiana for eight days before I could fly home to the piles of debris in front of our house...

In the meantime, at Midway airport, my friends greeted me wearing masks. Ah, what irony! 

On a train in Chicago on the way to visit Northwestern, February 2020, wearing ,masks

My son’s suitcases for college piled up on the sidewalk in front of the main entrance to his dorm.


Safe with my friends in Indiana walking by Lake Michigan.

Dr. Biljana D. Obradović, a Serbian-American poet, translator, critic, Professor of English, who was recently Head of the English Department at Xavier University of Louisiana, who has a Ph.D. In English from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from VCU in Richmond, VA, has published four collections of poems, most recently Incognito (Cincinnati: WordTech Press, January 2017), two translations of collections of poems—into English from Serbian (Bratislav Milanović; Zvonko Karanović, Sleepwalkers on a Picnic, Dialogos Press, 2020), five into Serbian from English (John Gery, Stanley Kunitz, Patrizia de Rachewiltz, Bruce Weigl, and Niyi Osundare), and two anthologies of poems, the most recent co-edited with Dubravka Djurić, Cat Painter: An Anthology of Contemporary Serbian Poetry (New Orleans: Dialogos Press, Oct. 2016). She has also edited a collection of essays by Philip Dacey, Heavenly Muse: Essays on Poetry (Lavender Ink, 2020). An issue of Atlanta Review, Summer 2021 was devoted to Serbian poetry that she co-edited with Dubravka Djurić and mostly translated herself. She is currently working on a new collection of her own poems and a new translation of selected poems by Dubravka Djurić.