Wild Forest

Gathering rainclouds over the Tonto National Forest, where the scholars went on a Jeep tour

“It was an amazing day. We fed wild animals, explored the hidden beauty of the forest and met with some of the native people of Arizona…”

Creekside Tours vehicles that took the scholars on a tour of the Tonto National Forest near Payson
Tonto National Forest Jeep tour. Photo Credit: Bogdan Oprea

No, it didn’t happen like that. This is all my wild imagination. I and some of my friends caught the virus, and we couldn’t join the trip. The SUSI scholars went on a jeep tour of the Tonto National Forest, except for Roy, Anubhuti and me! While just sitting in my room and looking at the trip photographs that were shared by my SUSI colleagues, I felt there was something missing from the scene. This could be a lion in the background or a black-eyed eagle!

I am just using some elements of humor and literary art to create a somewhat interesting blog post for you. The missing part was us in the photographs, of course. My imagination about animals can be considered limited, especially compared to my 6-year-old niece. According to her, Tom and Jerry live in the U.S.A. and everybody knows this. She asked me for a photo of a cat to prove Tom’s presence here and as a responsible aunt I searched everywhere for a cat and finally found it! You will be seeing one of Tom’s photos in this post. 😊

I would like to briefly mention our pre-COVID-19 period here. We already completed three weeks and the SUSI program has given us a unique experience. We are 15 scholars from different countries and we became close friends in a very limited but intense process. I am sure some of us will visit each other in the future and maintain ties of friendship. For example, I have started planning to go to Indonesia and visit Bintan Humeira and she promised to visit me in Istanbul too. During this period of sickness, she helped me a lot (my other friends did too). I think I will always remember their sincere support. 

I hope to enjoy my time and learn as much as possible from my experiences here. Having COVID-19 is part of the journey. Longing and nostalgia, the other parts of the journey, are strong emotions to deal with. However, it gets easier when you feel the camaraderie surrounding you. I realized once again that friendship and social support are powerful factors for survival and recovery in life. When we return to our countries, to our normal lives, we will have many vivid memories of our adventure and appreciate many things, even including being infected since it has come with a stronger friendship!  

A ginger cat on a downtown Phoenix porch
Tom is in Phoenix, where is Jerry?