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Henn said she's realized her appreciation for JMU while quarantining at home.

Meet Darby Henn.

She’s a freshman elementary education major who, among many others, had her first year at JMU cut short. Although quarantine has taken away countless experiences for everyone, she said she’s looking at the positives of the situation and appreciating what she has.

“It’s … easy in times like this to kind of feel, like, helpless — just in the sense that there’s so much going on in the world right now,” Henn said. “So, I’ve just been trying to, like, find ways to, I guess, feel less helpless … and just trying my best, I guess, to connect and reach out to people virtually.”

Henn said she used to stay busy on campus with her membership in several clubs and organizations. She joined Student Ambassadors this spring and was only able to lead one tour at CHOICES before quarantine began, but she said she looks forward to getting more involved. 

Although she hasn’t been as active in her clubs as she’d like to be, Henn said she’s participating in many virtual meetings. As a member of JMU’s chapter of InterVarsity, a Christian fellowship on campus, she’s in a small group with other students that meets once a week over Zoom. 

Henn said she’s thankful for the technology that allows the miles between her and her fiends to temporarily disappear. However, she said she’s experienced difficulty communicating over Zoom with her small group because sometimes it’s hard to follow along and be able to tell who’s speaking.

“I definitely miss, just, like, the normality of being there and being on campus,” Henn said.

While she has more time to work on classes at home, she said time management has been challenging. With her involvement in so many clubs, she said it’s difficult to keep track of all her online meetings.

“When you're on campus, it's pretty easy to make your schedule for the week,” Henn said. “But since it’s kind of more in your own hands, it’s more flexible. It’s given me more time … but it’s also been challenging, I guess, just figuring out and deciding how to balance my time.”

When she isn’t doing homework, Henn spends her free time watercolor painting, going for walks and calling friends and relatives. She said she’s thankful for the extra time and space at home to play the ukulele and clarinet, which was difficult to do in her dorm room.

Although these times may be trying for many, Henn said she hopes this quarantine will encourage people to appreciate time together in a new way. 

“I definitely think I'm looking forward to, like, being more intentional, I think, with my time when I am with people,” Henn said. “I think … that all of this will kind of remind us just to, like, be really present when we’re with people … I'm just looking forward to, kind of, like, getting to see people but getting to see them with, like, a new perspective.”

Henn said she’s used this time in quarantine to reconnect with friends and spend time with her family that she wouldn’t have otherwise had. She also said she’s further realized her appreciation for JMU and the connections and community she’s found there.

“This time at home has made me be more, like, grateful for JMU and, kind of, put into perspective just how much I actually did really love and appreciate the school,” Henn said. “And even from home, I can still kind of feel, like, just, thankful for JMU in general because the professors are still really accommodating and also my friends that are still caring, even from a distance.”

Contact Charlotte Matherly at mathercg@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.