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Dancing In THON 2021 From 3,700 Miles Away

While the rest of her sorority sisters from Omega Phi Alpha are dancing from State College this weekend, senior Elise Wolfs is having a very different experience.

Wolfs will be dancing from more than 3,700 miles away from her hometown of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and will be operating on a six-hour time difference. When the THON stream is down in what will be the middle of the night for all the East Coast dancers, it’s actually the early morning for her.

“It wasn’t planned that I was going to be here [in Amsterdam]. I was fully planning to be back in State College by now,” Wolfs said. “But unfortunately, the pandemic kind of made that very difficult. So I made the decision a few weeks ago to stay in Amsterdam and to start planning THON here.”

Wolfs was in State College for the fall semester up until break started, but with the extended break and Penn State’s decision to have a remote learning period for the first month of the semester, she remained in Amsterdam.

Courtesy of Elise Wolfs

Planning THON Weekend for herself while adhering to the Netherlands’ coronavirus guidelines has been a challenge for Wolfs. While back in State College, small groups of people have been gathering throughout THON Weekend.

In the Netherlands, Wolfs is allowed a maximum of one visitor at a time. Her friends and family will all need to visit at separate times to adhere to that rule.

“I demoted my little brother to my THON chair kind of, my personal THON assistant. So he’s been amazing, and he’s been texting a lot of my friends…and coordinating with them that one at a time they’ll come over,” Wolfs said.

Wolfs added that the support from her friends, family, and sorority has been heartwarming and motivating. Throughout the weekend, she’ll be connecting with her sorority via Zoom and joining them when possible in any virtual events they’re doing as a group. Since Wolfs is choosing not to know the time, and in addition to that she’s operating on a time-difference, her brother will be responsible for executing the logistics of the events.

Courtesy of Elise Wolfs

Wolfs found that it was important now, more than ever before, to remain just as committed to THON and that’s why she wanted to dance her senior year no matter the circumstances.

“Ever since I first stepped foot in THON I’ve known that I wanted to be a dancer at some point. To get the opportunity to represent my sorority, our fraternity, and just our amazing THON families that I’ve gotten to know over these past few years, I’m so humbled and honored,” Wolfs said. “Even though it is virtual, that doesn’t affect my motivation or my excitement. It’s all for the kids, and I’m more bummed that they won’t get to have a THON weekend than that I won’t be at the BJC. It’s not about me anyway.”

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a senior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at [email protected]

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