Tuesday, October 14th, 2014, 3pm: all students receive an email from SCAD informing us that classes have been canceled for the rest of the week. A rush of adrenaline and excitement came over me because I had planned on staying back, riding out the storm and getting caught up on personal projects. My friends and I had agreed to make a decision about leaving by 12pm on Wednesday morning. As of Tuesday, the storm wasn't close enough to make a call about it's strength. Tuesday night was fun; we'd all gotten together for a little Hurrication kick off. At that point none of us knew what was coming.
Wednesday, October 5th, 2016, 12pm: we decided to evacuate and head to North Carolina for the weekend. The storm swelled and many of our worried parents, who are scattered around the world, insisted we leave. Along with other students, we took advantage of the weekend to go explore a new place and have an adventure.
Friday, October 7th, 2016, 2am: Hurricane Matthew struck Savannah after leaving devastating results in Haiti, the Bahamas, and parts of Florida. Our hearts were prepared for the worst but praying for the best as we went to sleep. We woke up and immediately turned on the news to see Tybee underwater, homeless people wading through the flooded roads, the beautiful live oak trees uprooted and fallen on peoples' homes. While viewing all of this on the news one can only wonder, "was my house a victim, will my power be on when I return, are my friends okay?" Millions of thoughts flooded through my mind after seeing my city look like a disaster zone; I had to get back as soon as possible.
Sunday, October 9th, 2016, 10am: SCAD students were notified that classes will resume on Monday October 17th. Another week off from school, more make-up classes, and a lot of stress.
Sunday night I made my way back to what appeared to be a post apocalyptic Savannah. My apartment was one of the few with running water and power; there was no damage. The things that made my life comfortable were in tact. The next day I ran through the park to see the destruction and saw every able body in the community cleaning up the mess. The same man that I pass each day on my way to class was cleaning up debris around his usual bench rather than sitting on it. He too wanted to see a beautiful Savannah again.
Monday, October 10th, 2016, 3pm: all SCAD students receive the email, "Monday, Nov. 28, through Thursday, Dec. 1, is now the final week of Fall 2016 to accommodate for missed classes due to the hurricane."
My initial reaction was anger. Why would you punish us for a natural disaster? Myself, along with most of my peers, had purchased international and domestic plane tickets to go home for the holidays. How can you pull us away from our families for even longer? None of us deserve a failing grade if we don't have the luxury to afford the $200+ change ticket fee. My current reaction is understanding. I empathize with you SCAD; you need to devise a sensible plan that ensures all students get the most out of their academic quarter. I appreciate that you cherish our coursework and hold us to a high standard; that work ethic has gotten me many opportunities thus far. Although education is important to me, I do draw a line.
Hurricane Matthew has made me reassess what is truly valuable in my life. When I left, I was not sure if I'd return "home". Work was the last thing on my mind, and it should have been the last thing on my mind. Thanksgiving for me is one of the only times I'm able to see my family. Shortly afterwards I'm going to Asia for two weeks to visit my best friend's family. Those experiences, those people, and that time is irreplaceable. My work can wait, my grades can suffer, my professors will be flexible. At the end of the day, what holds the most value? Extend my quarter, but I will not be attending. SCAD, I'm asking for flexibility through this: alternative solutions, or online submissions. I will put forth my best work until Thanksgiving and after that time is over I will walk away and go on to live out the things that bring me inspiration and happiness.
As many of us work through this frustration, it's crucial to remember that we are OK. This place many of us call home is able to function. Our work is valuable, but your presence and safety is more important right now and it will always be more important. We've got a week to prep for the race ahead. When all is said and done we will finish the quarter knowing we gave it everything we had given the current circumstances.