In the days after Tianyue passed, classes were canceled and the campus shut down to mourn her death. Here is some of what our staff did in those few days.
Mary Clare: I have been thinking more about the international student community after Tianyue’s passing. Although not many of them write for the newspaper, according to current writing consultants: many utilize the writing center’s services. So I started thinking about what it is I want to do in the future here at Denison and I looked into applying to be a writing center consultant. I tried to keep myself busy the following days. I attended a mental health meeting and wrote a letter for Tianyue’s parents. As much as my friends were there for me, I didn’t realize how much support I needed from faculty too. My Chinese teacher from freshman year helped translate the letter to Tianyue’s parents. Administration checked in on me often and worked with me to make sure the letter reached Tianyue’s parents. And my orchestra director nicely sat down and listened to me for hours before I left campus.
Nina: I took this time to first and foremost check in with all the people closest to me. I cannot stress enough the importance of reaching out to family, friends, and acquaintances during a time of tragedy. After spending all of Wednesday with my closest friends on campus, I chose to go home early on Thursday. This was absolutely the right decision for me, because my extended family was in town and able to provide me with an even larger support system. There’s no “right” way to process a tragic event such as this, so it can be beneficial to make sure you’re communicating whatever it is you may need. That can be anything from asking loved ones to check up on you more often to taking some time alone to reflect.
Liz: What I did first was call my aunt, telling her about the news. I told her that I loved her and appreciated her, because she has been my main support system since before high school started. I think often about what would happen if I ever lost her — she has a special place in my heart because she, essentially, helped shape me into who I am. It wasn’t too long ago that I discovered that she had colon cancer. She’s the person that I always turn to during times of distress and I asked her for advice. I told her that I was worried about my campus, that I didn’t know what to do. My best friend who goes to Denison wasn’t on campus when we heard of the news and I called her crying. I didn’t know Tianyue. But I felt for her, I felt for this campus and, couldn’t imagine what those who knew her were going through. I always try to see the light in everything, but I felt surrounded by darkness. When I asked my aunt for advice, she told me this: bring light and love to those around you. It’ll go far. So, I continue to try. I try and practice being conscious of everyone around me. When I walk somewhere on campus, I always try to say hello. I always ask how they are doing. I ask because, if I don’t, who will?
Nathaniel: Tianyue and I had a class together and I only knew her as her American name, “Aimee”. However, what I did get to learn about her was how hard of a worker she was and how dedicated and passionate she was to the things that mattered most to her. After our three days off I took time to reflect. To really take time for myself to think. And in doing so, I came to a few realizations. First, we have to cherish the people around us. Immediately after I heard the news, my initial reaction was to go see my closest friends. It made me realize just how important the people around us are. The friends I make here, I know without a doubt will be my friends for the rest of my life. They have my back and will always be there for me. This entire experience really helped solidify that and prove to me just how good people can be. By having a support system, even if it may be a few people, helped me mourn and cope with the issues at hand. I’ll always remember Aimee from acting class. I’ll always remember how dedicated she was to the class, even when everyone else may have not taken it as seriously. I’ll always remember how excited she was to be there, how friendly she was as a classmate, and in doing so, I want to make myself a better person to be able to truly honor her. Tianyue you will be greatly missed, and I know that the Denison community will work as hard as we all can to make this place a better and more inclusive university for all. At the end of the day, we’re all Denisonians. We are all a family that gets to spend a short amount of time on The Hill, yet we develop these connections and relationships that last forever. I hope no one forgets the impact that Denison has on them and truly cherishes the relationships they have made. I know I have.
Joey: I felt a strong need to be with people. I didn’t want to be alone, but instead wanted to be there for and be there with some of my friends. The amazing thing about a small community is how these things impact everyone so differently. Whether they knew Tianyue or not, her death seemed to have an impact on everyone, myself included. I think that is why I wanted to be around others so badly. I wanted to see if everyone was okay, but also make sure others were making sure that I was okay.
Devin: During the days we had to reflect on this tragedy, I had multiple thoughts flowing through my head; from my regret over not being able to know Tianyue while she was with us to the shock that something like this had happened again, so soon. When I wasn’t checking in with my friends or parents, I found myself mostly using the time for isolated, quiet reflection, and I stayed at Denison until the end of the week in part because I didn’t feel ready to go home quite yet.
Laura: When I first read the email, I sat in the Geoscience department for a few hours just to be alone and think about what had happened. I later when and met some friends and we spent many of the days together to be with each other and to support each other and work through our thoughts and feelings. I personally tried to split my time between being with people and trying to help each other and finding solitary activities, which were mostly just drawing and paper crafts, that relaxed me and brought me back to center in a way. I thought it was important to take time to be with those around me while also taking time to care for myself.Alina: During this time of grief, I found myself reflecting on my support system. I am fortunate enough to have friends and family that unconditionally support me. I tried to think about when was the last time that I had vocally expressed my gratitude. I’ve always believed that people show gratitude when you interact everyday through small things. When one of my loved ones offers to refill my water, or asks when is the last time I ate. These acts show love and gratitude to me. During difficult times like these especially when experiencing loss, we need to show our gratitude a little louder than looking out for one another in small ways which needs to be incorporated into daily life. Send that text of acknowledgment. Hug your friend that you haven’t seen from a while when you run into them in passing. Show love.