Home Away From Home
Michael Le ’20 arrived at Logan Airport only to discover that his long-awaited flight home had been canceled.
On March 12, just one day after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, Head of School Tim Richards P '15 announced that Spring Break would be extended indefinitely. Though most students were able to head home the following day, a handful of students remained on campus as their families made plans for them to return home.
Nearly two weeks later, on March 25, Michael Le ’20, the last student remaining on campus, arrived at Logan International Airport only to discover that his long-awaited flight home had been cancelled. Vietnam had closed its borders in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, and Michael was forced to return to a closed Pomfret campus. "Initially I panicked," said Michael. "All of my friends — every other student — had already left campus. I was bored and lonely."
One month earlier, Trustee Greg Melville ’68 mentioned that he and his wife, Susan Fox, would be willing to welcome a student into their home in Hadlyme, Connecticut, should the need arise. "We were looking for an opportunity to make a contribution during this difficult time," said Greg. Initially, it appeared that all students would be able to return home. But in March, Tim Richards reached out to Greg and explained Michael's situation. "We knew right away that we were going to help," said Greg.
Michael spent an additional two weeks on campus self-quarantining before heading to Hadlyme for an extended stay with Greg and Susan. He arrived at his new home away from home on April 9, two days after celebrating his eighteenth birthday. Since then, when Michael isn't busy with his studies, the three spend time hiking, baking, and just getting to know one another.
They have dinner together every night, and Greg and Michael share stories about Pomfret, discussing all the traditions that have stood the test of time, and others that have faded in the fifty-two years since Greg graduated. "He has no inkling what a dough ball is," Greg laughed. "How can any self-respecting Pomfret alum not know what a dough ball is?"
Greg, Susan, and Michael all describe the experience as very positive. "In many ways, having Michael here has made our quarantine so much more enjoyable," said Susan. "He's a very lovely young man, and it has been our pleasure to have him."
Though Michael is grateful to Greg and Susan for their generosity and hospitality, he hopes to soon be able to return home to Vietnam to be reunited with his parents, brothers, and sisters. But the trio plan to keep in touch. "He's part of our family now," said Greg.