Student leaders of many clubs and organizations were ordered to cancel or postpone events for the remainder of the spring semester, some of which had been planned and organized for weeks or even months in advance.
International Bazaar and the University Productions spring concert are two of the major events impacted by Lehigh’s decision to move to online classes on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Adrian Suarez, ‘22, expressed his initial feelings of disappointment after preparing to be a host for Lehigh’s 32nd annual International Bazaar.
“I felt exhausted,” he said. “Like all that effort went to nothing.”
The International Bazaar is an event that celebrates different global identities and the diversity at Lehigh. Suarez said he was looking forward to helping showcase the flag parade, fashion show, international performances and more.
“This is the time for leaders to come out and make sure that Lehigh’s community doesn’t fall apart,” he said. “It’s the time for us to connect and create innovative ways to collaborate. We can still create something out of these trying times.”
Despite having to move onto next semester, he joked that it provided more time to plan for next year.
“We are making lemonade out of the lemons right now,” he said. “Make a way out of no way.”
Raahil Amarshi, ‘20, shared similar sentiments. As president of University Productions, he said the spring concert was the last event he was planning in his role.
When he first heard the news, he immediately jumped into action by creating a to-do list for himself and his team. Despite the cancellation, tasks such as allocating budgets, choosing next year’s leaders and running social media platforms still needed to be done.
Despite his own personal feelings, Amarshi had to finalize and resolve logistical and internal details that came with cancelling the spring concert.
“I shared my plans with my directors and gave them a head start on what it’s going to look like from here on, and how we can reinforce next year better now that we have this time on our hands,” he said.
As a senior involved in planning other events and even performances, Amarshi was sad to hear that he wouldn’t be able to fulfill his goals and plans for the last time at Lehigh.
Now, he is hopeful for what the future has in store for the clubs and organizations he has been involved with.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how far my impacts can reach on campus,” Amarshi said. “Obviously, this is all very sad, but it’s necessary and I hope the best for the future.”
He encourages other student leaders and organizers to think positive and provide support for each other. He said the clubs and organizations students are involved with can provide an outlet for reducing the pain of the current situation “by sharing it with each other.”
Oi Yee Cheng, ‘20, offered further solace as a Ph.D. candidate finishing her last semester at Lehigh after seven years at the university to complete her master’s and doctoral degrees.
“At this moment, I think everyone is affected in different ways,” Cheng said. “It teaches us a lot of life lessons that many things are out of our control and life is very unpredictable.”
As a graduate assistant for the Center for Gender Equity, she was planning on co-hosting an event with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Pride Center called “Post-Colonialism Series on education and gender, reproductive justice of black women and queerness.”
According to Cheng, one of the events in the series called “Post-colonialism on education and gender in Hong Kong”, will be hosted virtually at 12-1 p.m. on April 2.
Cheng said she was looking forward to attending events in her last eight weeks at Lehigh, unaware that last week was her final chance.
“I might not even see the students whom I’ve worked with for the rest of the semester — or even for life,” Cheng said.
Despite the circumstances, she wants to remind her peers and the Lehigh community that there are ways to find a peace of mind.
“Don’t take everything for granted everyday. Not everything has a closure in life,” she said. “The things that we put effort into don’t always come out the way we would like to have.”