Hi! I hope everyone is doing well and keeping safe! It has been a little over 6 months since Peace Corps Volunteers were evacuated from their country of service due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The last 6 months have been a wild emotional ride for myself, other volunteers, and the world. I decided to post a quick little update for anyone following this blog.
The last 6 months have not been easy. I went from living in a community I happily called home, having a great job, and enjoying my newfound life in a new country to being sent back to my home of record. The transition has not been an easy one. Upon arriving to the United States, I quickly made my way to a prepaid Motel 6 in a very questionable part of my home of record. Evacuated volunteers were recommended to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival. (The risk of transmitting the virus was going to be high considering we were cooped up with a bunch of volunteers and traveled through multiple airports)
Those two weeks in a motel 6 were very interesting… as I watched the mad scramble for toilet paper and other supplies on CNN during the day and listened to the ladies of the night loudly exclaim they were only seeing “5 customers per night” to lower their risk of catching the Corona Virus; two things became increasingly clear: I was safer in my site and its going to be a long time before I can return to Guatemala and or my Peace Corps Service.
My personal safety was my biggest concern upon arriving to the States. Partly because of the Corona Virus and mostly because of where I would have to self-isolate. I did not have the privilege to self-isolate with my parents or family as everyone in my immediate family was at risk. I settled for the local motel 6 as it was close to my parents’ home and I did not have any other choice. The area where the motel 6 is located is plagued by poverty, drug dealers, drug users, prostitution, and violence. (A couple of weeks before I arrived some one was killed in the local parking lot…. Normally this wouldn’t concern me but couple that with someone pounding at your door at 1AM and it’s a pretty surreal experience) None of this stuff was new to me. I grew up around it… At that point in time I found it ironic that weeks before evacuation I was politely listening to volunteers rant about poverty in the United States and the experiences of Low-socioeconomic status individuals they had read in college textbooks or learned in University classes and here I was weeks later facing that reality… a reality I grew up in. Life is wild.
The months following my self quarantine were by far the worst. While it was great connecting with family and friends the reality was that I was very much unemployed. In this country that is a major “No-No” as your identity, sense of worth, and more importantly your wellbeing is tied to your job (Healthcare). As some one who’s been working since they were 16 being unemployed sucked. I did my best to pick up hobbies, exercise, and link up with friends…but those things are hard during a pandemic, while trying to adjust to U.S. Life and while mourning the evacuation. Some days were easy but most days were hard. The last 6 months have been a whirl wind of mundane inactivity with some highlights and many sleepless nights sprinkled in.
One of those highlights is that I no longer feel as lost as I did 6 months ago. The other highlight is that I landed a new full-time job in my field: Higher Education (a field hit hard by the pandemic) and I once again will be serving students.
I wish I had more to add but I do not. Every day feels largely the same. A “whirl wind of mundane inactivity” corona cases and deaths keep rising, protests are still happening, the entire west coast is on fire and the rest of the world watches in horror. If you want a potential solution to the problems above I highly suggest voting in the upcoming election. (If you are able to do so) The changes wont happen over night but a simple vote can get the cogs of the bureaucratic machine moving to eventually address the issues listed above.
Any who that is all for now. I do not know if I will write another update at a later time. I just saw it fitting to write one considering its been 6 months since being evacuated and it is the eve of my 27th Birthday (or this might actually be posted on my birthday). I originally made this blog to provide updates of my Peace Corps experience…. I do not know what will happen in life but I do know one thing though: Should I be given the opportunity to serve again I will not only do it in a heartbeat, but I will do a much better job of documenting my experience through a written blog, pictures, and videos. Primero Dios.