Nazareth College, April 15th, 2020. Except where indicated all photos by Ian Richard Schaefer
In An eerie quiet at Nazareth College, I visited Nazareth College at the tail end of last week’s snow flurry — which one, you may ask? — and discovered just how deserted, at least visibly, are American educational campuses.
A graduate of Brighton High School, Fordham University with an M.P.A. from SDA Bocconi in Milan, Italy, Ian Richard Schaefer is the Department Assistant at Nazareth’s Department of Italian. Ian and I both took photo excursions on that snowy Wednesday. By the time Ian arrived, the photogenic scenery — the snow on the grass creating a white/green color — had mostly dissipated (soon turning to mud; this is Rochester). Interestingly, only one of our shots was similar.
While both Ian and I show the emptiness and stillness at Nazareth, Ian also tells how Nazareth is adapting and surviving.
An Eerie Quiet at Nazareth College, Part Two, by Ian Richard Schaefer
One of the most popular places to take pictures at Nazareth is the gothic portico that connects Smyth Hall with the Otto Schultz Center, and rightfully so. The covered walkway brings to mind the cloister of a monastery, with a simple stone cross marking the peak of the arched entrance, a sign of the College’s history with the Sisters of St. Joseph.
On a beautiful Rochester Spring day, like this past Wednesday, (a “Rochester Spring” day, of course, includes snow), the bustling corridor would have been packed with students. But of course, not now. Students now take screenshots of their online classes instead.
The College, as discussed the previous article, An eerie quiet at Nazareth College, is certainly not closed, even though the campus is nearly vacant. It is decentralized; while the beautiful physical campus is closed, the virtual campus has become the computers of its employees and students. My job as secretary for the Italian department has changed significantly. Unfortunately, dinners and trips have been put on pause, but classes and movie showings continue online. Casa Italiana will continue its traditional Wednesday movie nights with Prof. Maria Rosaria Vitti-Alexander throughout the school year using Zoom videoconferences.
Perhaps nobody has had a more unexpected experience than the international students at Nazareth. Many of them were forced to cut their exciting semesters abroad short and return home, like the American students studying in Italy had to do earlier in the year. However, for students from particularly affected areas, this was not an option.Giovanni Minicucci was so impressed by Rochester and by Nazareth College, he chose to return for another semester here after having already studied here last Spring. Certainly, this semester has not gone as planned, but he is just as certainly making the most of it. In addition to keeping up with an already-busy schedule of online classes, once a week, Giovanni — from Pescara, Italy — hosts a virtual version of his Italian conversation practice sessions. Nazareth also offers the “trapped” students opportunities for online community events, such as trivia or bingo.
What came across most in Giovanni’s interview with is his gratitude to Nazareth College. The College has made sure that the students who had to stay on campus are comfortable and well cared for. Giovanni moved into an on-campus apartment, and the College has helped to provide necessary supplies and food.
When flights become available and things begin to open up, students like Giovanni will eventually be able to return home. Life will return to campus: the dinners at Casa Italiana, the students taking photos at the portico. The flowers that bloom and the trees that bud point to the hope of Spring. But for now, the campus waits patiently while the College continues in the homes of students and professors across the country.