My project titled, Escaping Isolation by Reconnecting with Roots, follows four stories that are all united by one common theme: nature. It is no secret that the Coronavirus has been a severe and traumatic stressor in peoples’ lives, whether it is because of the isolation that has resulted from it, the increased work loads, or very real concerns about health. I had a very difficult Fall semester; I felt isolated from my friends and family and constantly overwhelmed by maintaining good grades in the midst of a pandemic. But, when I went outside and listened to the birds sing and watched the trees blow in the wind, my stresses were, at least momentarily, subdued. I started this project hoping to find that I was not alone in my reliance on the outdoors as a place of peace.

I learned from Anthony, a student who shared that through photographing animals his worries are calmed; Lori, a dean who utilizes nature to facilitate safe connections with her students; Layne, a yoga instructor who enforces ideas of balance and gratitude in the outdoors; and the Cornman-Lele’s, a family striving to safely reconnect and succeeding in the Duke forest.

As you take in these photos, I ask one thing: reflect on when you have last appreciated the world that surrounds you. I learned so much from these four individuals, and I hope you can, too.