The Beauty of Virtual Reality





Unfortunately, Taylor and I did not get to physically explore the city of Columbus this semester. Due to COVID-19, I moved back home and Taylor informed me that she stays at home as well. It may have been possible if I lived in Columbus like Taylor, but unfortunately, I live two hours North. However, I did enjoy our time during Zoom, exploring the locations I would have taken her. If in-person, I planned to have taken Taylor to two locations that are not far from campus or far from each other. I decided on two locations because I have yet to explore the Columbus area myself; this would have been a new experience for both of us to enjoy! I decided on two locations that had an African or African American authenticity. One fact that I appreciate about our mentorship is that both Taylor and I are African American females, and are passionate about issues surrounding that identity. I believe Taylor and I deserved to enjoy African authenticity and beauty during a time of social unrest.

The first location I planned for the night was at Kings Arts Complex. I decided on this location because I knew Taylor enjoyed art, especially art from Black artists. I am not artistic as Taylor, however, I do not mind performing or viewing artistic pieces. Taylor commented that she heard of this location via Twitter. It is a new building that replaced an old clothing store and currently only has one exhibit: The Elijah Pierce exhibit. Again, this was a virtual exploration of Columbus, therefore, we looked through its website to see what it had to offer to the public. Kings Art Complex offers various activities for its guests, including but not limited to, a Gala event, a Heritage Festival, a First Tuesday Tea event, and other events. Due to COVID-19 pushing events to next year, we were only able to watch videos of people performing for the Gala or Heritage Festival. We also explored the internet to look at paintings from its featured artist, Elijah Pierce! Though it was virtual, Taylor and I were able to experience that sense of appreciation by listening and viewing African beauty via the website.

The second location I planned for the night was at Madison Soul Food Kitchen. It is directly down the street from Kings Art Complex, which makes it even more convenient to go to. Everyone loves the essence and taste of soul food, especially Black people. Its taste is rich and connects us to a warm ancestral feeling. I believe it would have been the perfect place to feed our hunger and end the night! Like myself, I learned that Taylor does not indulge herself in soul food as often. Mainly around holiday times, specifically Thanksgiving or Christmas, is when we can enjoy authentic soul food. Therefore, Madison Soul Food Kitchen would have been another new experience for both of us! Unfortunately, it did not have an official website, however, I was able to find a bit of information via a third party website. We viewed the menu, and read reviews regarding its food and service. It did not offer much, however, it had a sufficient variety of food. Almost all of the reviews were four stars or above with excellent commentary from customers.

Taylor and I recognize issues that arise due to meeting only virtually. I informed Taylor that we would have been down the street from each other if we both decided to live on campus for the school year. I would have made occasional pop-ins at her dorm building and did more mentor/mentee activities with her. It is unfortunate because Taylor is an amazing girl and we share similar things in common. It has been hard forming a deeper bond with Taylor due to everything being online. Plus, with our separate and busy lives, communication is not where I would like it to be. I take full responsibility for that, however. I apologized to Taylor for not reaching out as much like I said I would during our first meeting. I explained how mentally drained I am this semester because of COVID-19 and other issues. Taylor completely understood and offered support. We both made it aware that we are there for each other, even if communication is little. Taylor is aware that I mean well with our mentorship relationship. I promised her that I would do better and Taylor made the same as well. Hopefully, next semester offers new opportunities to further develop our relationship.

Due to neither of us being on campus, there was not much to discuss in terms of challenges faced while exploring a new city and/or campus. I have been on the Ohio State campus for about a year and a half, so I would have loved to have shown and explored the campus with Taylor. Taylor is fortunate though because she is from an area within Columbus. Therefore, she is more experienced in this city and I would have enjoyed sightseeing with her. It is unfortunate that I could not stay on campus longer this school year. It would have been a great experience for both Taylor and me, and it would have made it a lot easier to form a bond. I believe those two locations would have helped to form that bond as we connect with each other, and our African stories and identities. Though, I am still happy to have introduced these two locations to Taylor via Zoom call. It was nice to share information with her and experience a bit of what it would have been like. Hopefully, when the virus is over, I can take her to those locations and enjoy the night properly!