When shelter at home was enacted in Alachua County my daily routine changed instantly. Luckily, that has been the only major change to my life. Whereas I used to spend most of my time studying or with friends, now a good chunk of my time is devoted to homeschooling my nieces. Like a lot of other essential workers across the country, my sister and her husband are unable to stay home.

I’m an international studies major in my freshman year at UF. In other words, my qualifications do not include a teaching degree, let alone a college degree. Those reading this may already be familiar with teaching their own kids during quarantine, in which case I empathize with you. Currently, as I write this my four-year-old niece sings the national anthem while tangled in a soccer goal… that she brought inside the kitchen. That’s just to say that the experience has been hectic, surprising, and challenging pretty much all of the time.

At the same time, I feel so grateful that the pandemic has brought me closer to my wild, curious, sweet, and most importantly, healthy, nieces. I know that the pandemic has caused tremendous suffering all over the world.

I think homeschooling has allowed me to better understand the question, “what does it mean to be human?” It has allowed me to understand grief in the form of a funeral for a dead lizard. It has allowed me to understand joy in the form of a talent show featuring ukuleles. It has allowed me to understand frustration in the form of never-ending zoom calls. It has allowed me to understand longing in the form of facetime playdates. The humanities are about everything that makes us human, and in my opinion, so is homeschooling.

– Isabella Kemp (Student)