PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — When María Guerrero Martínez recalls the social interactions she would have on the Brown campus before COVID-19, their spontaneity is what strikes her the most.
“I remember going to the Ratty and running into someone and sometimes just spending the next couple hours in a great conversation,” said the Brown senior, who is concentrating in biochemistry and molecular biology.
Guerrero Martínez hadn’t realized just how much she missed chance exchanges like this — which, in light of necessary health and safety precautions, have dwindled during the pandemic — until she attended last week’s installment of Feel Good Fridays, an in-person series organized by the University’s Student Activities Office and the Office of the President that invites students to engage in a different COVID-safe activity during select weeks throughout spring term.
This week, about a thousand students came over the course of the three-and-a-half-hour event — forming in a carefully spaced queue as they arrived — to receive individually packaged Brown Build-a-Bear kits, which they assembled with their podmates in socially distanced circles on the green. Guerrero Martínez lingered long after her bear had been made, enjoying the sunshine and serendipitous conversations (behind masks and at safe distance) with friends walking by, many of whom she hadn’t seen in person since the pandemic began.