Home away from home


Steven Joe Fortes of VM Salgaocar Institute of International Hospitality Education (VMSIIHE), Raia, whose family is based abroad, is the only student who is stuck on campus owing to the pandemic. NT KURIOCITY gets details of how he is spending his time and more


It is said ‘home is where the family is’, but Steven Joe Fortes has managed to find a home within the campus of VM Salgaocar Institute of International Hospitality Education (VMSIIHE) at Raia.

A second-year student at VMSIIHE, Fortes, whose family is in Kuwait, has been stranded on campus, while facing the uncertainty of the pandemic.

As much as he wants to be with his family, the suspension of international flights has made it impossible for Fortes to travel home. Talking about what he misses the most about his family, Fortes says: “I especially miss the togetherness of my family during this pandemic as my parents are in Kuwait and my other two brothers are in Bengaluru and Nashik. When I first learned that all the students were heading back to their families except me, I was very sad and even nervous. But I had to accept the fact that these are the present circumstances and I would have to get used to it. I did not mind living alone because sooner or later we all must live on our own for some time.” He adds that everyday his parents call and ask about his day and after that they
pray together.

Fortes is the only student left behind on the VMSIIHE campus but he states, he has never felt out of place as he was quite familiar with the campus and people around. He says that time on campus has been very enjoyable, be it in the green spaces of the campus, the kitchen gardens or the gym for regular workouts. “I tried to keep my spirits high by keeping myself busy and spending time productively. The staff and faculty constantly make sure that I do not feel uncomfortable or alone. They are like a family to me
now,” he says

In fact, it was his positive attitude and the constant check-ups by the institute’s management that helped him overcome the initial nervousness of the situation. “The principal Irfan Mirza and faculty kept asking me if I’m alright time and again and also provided me with meals and essentials when necessary. Whenever I need any groceries, the management helps out and also provides transport if I need to go somewhere far for shopping”, he says.

Taking us through his regular schedule on the VMSIIHE campus, Fortes says: “In the mornings after breakfast, I visit the faculty block or the marketing office to assist and help the team. It’s a great learning experience for me to work alongside the marketing team and gain insights into how it’s done. I then head off to the cafeteria at 12 noon to help in serving lunch. After lunch I try to finish any pending work and then head for my daily walks around the campus at around 5. p.m. I also do exercises.”

And though lockdowns can be quite stressful and boring, Fortes has found his quarantine hobby to get him through. Pledging to work on his fitness and remain active, he has used quarantine to his advantage as he spends his time exercising. “I go to the gym and take walks within the campus area. I have also reduced my food intake so that I can lose weight and started playing sports frequently to keep myself active”, he says. Besides all this he also spends time watching his favourite shows and movies on Netflix.