I’m Sophie Hu, I live in New York— around 30 minutes outside of the city. I’m 18 and I’ll be starting college in the fall at UChicago. I also enjoy playing soccer, hanging out with friends, traveling and exploring, and listening to music…
Around early March, I heard about the coronavirus, but because it wasn’t in my community, it wasn’t really on my radar. One day, I got an email around mid-March that there were a couple of faculty in my school district that were affected by COVID-19. Initially, my school planned to take a week-long break, but it just kept getting extended and extended. My family and I decided that we were going to stay in our house in Montana. I ended up staying there for a couple of months.
Everyday, my parents watched CNN for pandemic updates. Things just kept getting worse and worse… and being from New York made watching the news even harder. I think New York handled the coronavirus well eventually, but initially, seeing the numbers rise and rise was really scary.
Everyone always says that the second half of senior year is where all the fun is. All of our school’s senior traditions are during the second half of the year, too. It sucked having all of that taken away. It definitely hurt knowing that the kids before us had these traditions and the kids after us will have these traditions, but we won’t ever have them. On the bright side, at least the class of 2020 is all in this together. This year is definitely one that we’ll always remember. Not everyone can say that they graduated during a global pandemic.
It’s funny because I had three different graduations. I had a virtual one, where they presented everyone’s pictures and had the faculty make a couple of speeches. Then there was a “drive-by” session where people would come in their cars and cheer us on— which was really cute, I loved it. It was also very special, because no other grade will ever get that experience. Lastly, I had an in-person ceremony, but it was very limited. There were only 50 kids graduating at a time, and each person had a “box” drawn on the field that they had to stay in. The three ceremonies helped me get closure, and now I’ve graduated!
Ali and I have been best friends since the third grade, back when I used to live in Hong Kong. We live very far away now, so it was nice getting the chance to catch up with her virtually during the pandemic. Ali was actually up in Canada for a little while, and because our time zones were a little closer to one another, calling her became much easier.
Ali is very ambitious, and she always has so many creative ideas. She briefly mentioned a project she was working on to me— back then, it was still called Count Me In, and now, it’s known as Alive Vibe. Some time went by, and then by March, she was like, “okay, now that we’re living through a pandemic, what if we used Count Me In (Alive Vibe) to host virtual events?” Funnily enough, she also saw that I had made a birthday post for one of my friends on my personal Instagram account, so she reached out to me saying, “hey, I need someone to run Alive Vibe's social media! You could work on graphics, too…” School was barely taking up half of my day and I had so much free time on my hands. I thought it’d be really cool to join her, so I did!
I started off by just running the Alive Vibe Instagram account, and then slowly but surely, Alive Vibe started to grow and I began to get more involved with the business and marketing side of things. Since then, I have learned so much about business, marketing, and graphic design… I’m really grateful that Ali asked me to join her all those months ago. I’m very proud of what we’ve done, and I’m so excited to share it with more people.
Around April or May, I was in a really tough spot. I think it was the worst that I’ve ever felt about myself, just because all of my college decisions came out while I was living through a pandemic. As much as I love my family, it was tough being cooped up in the house with my parents and my cousin all day. But then, there was this one night, right after dinner, when Ali texted me. “There’s this event that has been going on for two hours,” she said, “do you want to hop on?” I was a little nervous, because I didn’t know what to expect, going into a Zoom call with strangers from all over the world. Once I entered the Zoom call, all of that fear washed away. I was greeted by such warmth and energy. It felt like I was a part of one big friend group. I made friends from there that I still talk to every single day— I’ve met some of my closest friends through Alive Vibe! Now, I can say that I have friends from Panama, from Hong Kong… and all over the world! After the pandemic is over, I hope that I get to meet them all in person. I remember feeling so happy after leaving that first Alive Vibe event. I’m a pretty sociable person and I love meeting new people, so Alive Vibe was just perfect for me. To this day, I continue to meet new people through Alive Vibe events! I’ve become a better global citizen from listening to so many different perspectives.
I have a couple of favorite Alive Vibe events. My favorite community event is called “Mukbang Mondays”. It’s really fun because everyone is just eating and talking and enjoying each other’s company. I also really enjoyed going to the “Beginner’s Chinese” class— it’s cool having people of varying levels of expertise learn the same important language together. It’s also taught by someone around our age, so it’s a very collaborative environment. I host an event called “Culture Chat”, and I love it so much. I think this event is a really good representation of what Alive Vibe truly is— in it, we talk about our different backgrounds, the way they were raised, and our cultures. I went to another event called “Asians for Black Lives Matter”, and I learned so much about what it means to a minority helping out another minority. And of course, there’s the classic and very popular event called “Politics, Religion, Sex, Drugs, and All Walks of Ungodly Things You Shouldn't Talk About”, where we discuss anything and everything. There’s so much to do, but not enough time!
Alive Vibe really helped me out a lot. As I mentioned before, I wasn’t doing very well around April-May, but once summer rolled around, I was getting really involved with Alive Vibe, which made me really happy. I feel like crying every time I hear someone talk about how much Alive Vibe has changed their lives and how they’ve met so many incredible people through our platform. I am so happy that I get to be a part of something so important. We’ve come a long way and we still have a long way to go. I’m so excited to see Alive Vibe continue to grow!
Ali and I always say this: we love it when worlds collide, when people make new friends, and make friends with their friends, ultimately making one big family.
Written by: Natasha Leong
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