‘I realize connection is exactly what our world is missing.’

A young woman with long dark hair and a black sweater with gray collar smiling for a portrait.
(Photograph by Trevor Jackson / For The Times, Los Angeles Times photo illustration)

Abigail Chang, Immaculate Heart High School


In 2020, I bitterly reflected on the high school experience that the pandemic stole from me: hugging friends each day, engaging in discussions without a mute button and proudly placing a printed essay in my teacher’s hands.

Yet, upon returning to in-person classes in 2021, I realized that although the pandemic cruelly took, it also gave.

It reinvigorated my classmates’ appreciation for connection, creating a vibrancy on campus that makes us cherish the moments we do have together. We thrive off one another, and in these recent months I have felt the loving bond between members of my community like never before.


I realize connection is exactly what our world is missing. Over the past few years, polarization has become worse, made more so by the physical separation of the pandemic.

However, against this backdrop of discord, the rejuvenated spirit within my school is a testament to the healing power of connection fostered by listening and understanding. The world presents us many important issues — climate change, women’s rights and racial discrimination, to name a few — and now it is ours. The future is what we make of it.

So, let’s own it. My high school experience has demonstrated that we can wield the strength of our voices to remind others of our vital interconnection. Because it is only together that we can move into a brighter future.