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I finished out the spring semester online. We started in the classroom and made the transition after spring break. I was supposed to go to Guatemala on a service immersion trip but they closed their borders to us at the last minute so we were redirected (through some slick maneuvering by campus ministry) to El Salvador. This turned out to be more of an immersion trip where we stayed with a host family in a rural community for part of the trip and learned about the history and culture of El Salvador the rest of the time. While we were down there the president of El Salvador closed their borders as well but we were able to go back home. I’ll write about the trip in itself soon.

It was disorienting watching the systems that we take for granted break down around us. There was so much uncertainty. We were far from home, surrounded by people we didn’t know well, feeling this slow moving tidal wave moving toward us together. I’m so grateful that I was able to begin this pandemic this way. We were able to see our privileged laid bare before us in a way that made the hardships of the lock-down seem trivial in comparison. And they are trivial.

I was able to take the summer off. My scholarships doesn’t cover summer classes and I couldn’t see paying out of pocket when both my husband and I are laid off. We worked in the same restaurant together. For the first time in my adult life I have been able to work on myself… get some things done that I’ve been meaning to do. I’ve been practicing a lot of much needed self-care.

I went to unv.org and have been accepted to volunteer for a couple jobs. One is crowd mapping in Tanzania to combat female genital mutaliation. The other is a pretty big deal for me: I will be leading a team of 20-30 volunteers on the “news” team of SODEIT (Social Development International). I will be working about 30 hours a week for the next couple months remotely for the organization in Cameroon, Africa. I’ve never done anything like this before (besides restaurant management but it’s not the same) so I’m nervous but very excited! I finally get to put my studies into practice in the direction I would like my career to go.

I’m nervous about attending school in the fall. I’m not sure what that will look like. I know that every fall everyone gets sick, so how will this virus work on top of that? If I can’t keep myself from getting the “back to school sniffles” how am I supposed to keep from bringing a deadly virus back home to my high risk husband? I am thankful that I attend a Jesuit college and while I am not super religious, they have proven to me that they have our best interests at heart.

On the other hand I’m super excited about my classes. My criminal justice instructor was our faculty “companion” to El Salvador, my African American History instructor is my advisor, and my History of the Modern Middle East instructor is my (much loved and appreciated tough as nails) mentor. I’m also taking Macroeconomics and Intro to Public Policy. So excited. My volunteer work will be ending as the semester begins. I wonder if I’ll go back to work in the Dean’s Office of Arts and Sciences like I did before the pandemic?

What about you? How do you feel about going back to school in the fall?