Liz Pearce, a cheerful and soft-spoken lecturer at the University of Iowa, went viral nearly overnight after she offered a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal to students who are spending the holiday alone or away from family due to the pandemic.
“It may seem a bit silly, an English person making a traditional thanksgiving,” Pearce admitted in an interview with local TV station KCRG. She expressed that she did not want her students to feel sad or lonely on Thanksgiving.
Leah Blask, one of Pearce’s students, was one of the first to post a screencap of her email on Twitter. As of writing, the post has received nearly 900,000 likes and more than 77,000 retweets.
My professor is absolutely too pure for this world😢❤️ pic.twitter.com/jrXRifFnp8
— leah girl (@leahh_163_) November 19, 2020
Isolation During the Pandemic
Pearce revealed that she understood how it was to feel alone because she herself had to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19.
She also has a student in the hospital and three others who lost their loved ones to the virus.
This Thanksgiving, only three out of Pearce’s four children can attend her Thanksgiving dinner. Her son in the Quad Cities area tested positive and will have to self-isolate throughout the holiday.
“I sent out a message to the students saying I know it’s been a hard semester and some students, I heard, couldn’t go home and I didn’t want anyone to feel sad or lonely on Thanksgiving,” Pearce explained.
As of writing, three students have accepted her offer. Hundreds more have asked to take part in preparing the dinners or sending donations, but Pearce is hoping to retain the intent of her original offer: delivering home-cooked food, made by her family, to any student who needs it.
Quarantining at the University of Iowa
According to the University of Iowa registrar, around 5,000 students live in university housing while some 13,500 more live in Iowa City and Coralville. The vice president for medical affairs as well as the Dean of the Carver College of Medicine, Dr. Brooks Jackson, emphasized the need for students to remain where they are.
“I know this is really hard — especially given the difficulty that we’ve been through to date and the strong desire to get together with family and friends during the holiday season — but we are now at a state where we must buckle down,” he explained.
In her interview, Pearce reflected on how the pandemic and the subsequent social distancing measures must make many people around the country feel isolated.
“So many people who read it said it brought a tear to their eye and it made me realize just how vulnerable maybe as a nation we are right now,” she said.