A Year of Mourning

The year 2020 seems to be a trial of our mortality. We’ve seen the deaths of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman and Breonna Taylor. We’ve seen deadly natural disasters like wildfires and hurricanes. We’ve seen a virus sweep across the globe in just a few months, with no certain end in sight. We’ve seen the economy crash to numbers so low even our great- and grandparents would be appalled. We’ve seen the people who are supposed to be our protectors fail to do the very thing we ask of them. We’ve seen our political state regress to a condition of which generations before us fought hard to overcome. And now, we’ve seen a tragedy hit very close to home and to our hearts.

In Palmyra, Ohio, not more than 30 minutes from campus, Muchtar Kamara and Nekian Sesay were killed in a car crash Friday, Sept. 25. They were international students from Sierra Leone, here to pursue careers. Here to pursue goals. Here to make a change, here to make a difference. 

All of these major events have been in the foreground of everyone’s minds. It’s hard to remember something as seemingly insignificant as wearing a seatbelt can matter a whole lot, too.

Our international students have been dealt a number of blows as of late. They’ve been unable to travel home or come back to Youngstown. Many of them were without jobs for a majority of the lockdown. They’ve been unable to receive money from their relatives back home. And now, they’ve lost two members of their campus family. 

There isn’t much we can do, as mortal beings, after something like this has happened. We can’t answer why this has happened, or how, or at what cost. At most, we can only offer our humble condolences, our shared feelings of sorrow and grief. We can only hope the families of these students know how sorry we are this has happened, how we wish we were able to alter the events of Friday so this had never happened. We can only express how grateful we are the two other passengers in the car, Imran Sawaneh and Aicha Sawaneh, survived. We can only show our love and support to these two survivors.

It’s okay to not have answers, or to feel overwhelmed right now. It’s acceptable to feel angry, or sad, or numb, at the state of things. It’s reasonable to wonder if things will ever get better, to question whether there really is a light at the end of this dark, murky tunnel of misfortune. 

There have been so many things to comprehend and make sense of since January, it’s hard to keep them straight. It might be hard for some of us to find the good in all of this. But we don’t have to go through it alone, because we’re a campus that’s over 12,000 strong. And while we may not be able to link arms in solidarity right now, and while we may have to stay six feet apart, we will always be together at heart.