At the Library
WellesleyESL Quarantine Journals
Wellesley ESL Quarantine/Coronavirus Journal
Wellesley ESL students were asked to share their thoughts, comments and experiences about the quarantine and coronavirus pandemic. The entries below are organized by date of submission. All are anonymous and none have been edited. Karen Evans, Program Coordinator
To Wear a Mask or not to Wear
To wear a mask or not to wear? It’s a question. Just before the start of the outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S., I had always asked myself this question. China confronted the virus previously than any other country in the world, and to wear a mask is mandatory for all the people in China. Most Chinese also think that to wear a mask can not only protect themselves but also protect other people. However, Chinese are always in the dilemma when they live in the U.S. Many Chinese friends told me that they would put a mask in their pockets, and they would wear the mask if they saw some other people wearing a mask. They are afraid of the virus without the protection of a mask, but they are afraid of the racial discrimination too.
I think the reason that it was very hard to see an American to wear a mask two weeks ago is not only because of the cultural difference between the west and the east but also because of CDC’s guidance, but CDC’s guidance always puzzled me. They said if you felt sick, you should wear a mask. On the other hand, all the experts told us COVID-19 will have a long time of incubation. If I was infected, how could I know if I am sick during the incubation period? If I would have the symptoms several days later, I would infect to other people easily without a mask. I don’t know if not wearing a mask is one of the reasons that the spread of the virus in the U.S. is so quickly. Fortunately, CDC started to encourage people to cover their mouth when people are outside two weeks ago. I am very happy to see many American people started to wear a mask. I met Jeanne, my neighbor, when I went to the recycling center last Wednesday. She had not a mask but only a scarf to cover her mouth. I put some masks in her mail box, since Chinese doctors told us that a scarf or cotton mask will not filter the virus efficiently.
To contain the spread of the virus, every country has many same measures, such as testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine. Besides, some other different measures are applied because of the different culture and political system. To wear a mask or not to wear a mask, I think is one of the biggest differences. The most appropriate is the best. I hope U.S. government will find the most appropriate method to defeat the virus and let the country go back to normal before fall. So that, my son will go to college on time and I could also go back to China as my plan, although I love Wellesley very much.
Today I’m writing my 1st story from my quarantine journal, and also is the 1st Birthday of my beautiful and beloved dog. We have 47 days of quarantine at our home.
Like any other member of my family we always celebrate birthdays and with my kids made for him a banner that said ONE and dog paws on the sides, we decorated a bone with treats and a candle all edible for our birthday boy, a bandana that said: It’s my Birthday!!!, party hats for all with paws, and my daughter made a pretty drawing of him.
Was his 1st walk around our neighborhood after his neutered and we don’t like disobey the order about stay at home, that’s the reason that we walked with him in our garden, but I made him a promise, not just any promise a pinkie promise, that if the weather allowed and it wasn’t raining, we would take him for a walk on the street for his special day, we haven’t been out since the schools closed, we took our precautions to put our mask and gloves, and my dog with his bandana and party hat.
I was impressed how beautiful the street was, with all the flowering trees and beautiful colors in shades of pink and purple. Absolutely amazing.
A Gap Between Me and My Chinese Relatives
As time goes by, I received more and more messages from China that checked how my family was in the pandemic and what the real situation was in America, because the number of cases is greater than China. I discussed this issue with my Chinese relatives though WeChat and appreciated their concerns. I thought it didn’t make sense that China has a large population, people can not have social distance in most circumstance, how the number of cases can be smaller than America. I felt upset during our conversations for our huge gaps in mental and recognitions. We couldn’t agree with each other’s thoughts. These kinds of conversations usually ended up with disappointments. I realized that because of we are living in different societies and we get information from different resources, I alone can’t fill the gap. If I continue the argument, it only leads to broken relationships with my relatives. Therefore, we avoided political discussions automatically. Even though I know that my Chinese relatives and I will be quarantined forever, from the physical location to the ideological.
Working During The Pandemic
My relatives in China often remind me of wearing face mask when I go out, because they know, as a banker, I have to work during this pandemic. My company set up a special working schedule for employees who need to work in the branches. They shortened the branch opening hours into 4 hours a day in order to protect their employees from getting infected by the Coronavirus and to satisfy customers’ basic financial needs at the same time during the outbreak. At the very beginning, I felt happy and really enjoyed this special working schedule; but as time goes by, I started to miss the normal schedules and the previous busy working life. I even felt depressed sometimes, because we had to have a social distance with our customers, and disinfected everything during and after each transaction. However, when I think of everyone going through the tough times, so many essential workers are still on the job. I am proud of myself of being one of them. Facing the fact that the rate of unemployment has been raising day by day, I am grateful that I still have a job!
Spring is coming. Although, we are quarantine at home, we can still discover the changes of the nature: green leaves sprouting from trees; different flowers blooming over night; birds singing in the morning to wake people up. What a vibrant world!
The U.S government is considering to reopen the states, but keep social distance until the pandemic is over. I miss my friends and their warm hugs!
I am wondering why the most powerful country in the world be found helpless and confused by meeting one tiny virus In the time when people creating such complicated means to protect the population even from atomic bombs, why they were not ready to intervention of virus.
The signals of a coming tragedy appeared months before. Every day I see on TV rising numbers of death. There are thousands and thousands…
How to take it? To be scary or compare it with the statistic of death during previous years? The information is diverse, not reliable and not quite opened.
If virus kills much more people, and we are not ready for defeat this virus, it means the population could be killed very easily by any virus, economic could be destroyed in couple of months, all of this could happen in the most powerful and rich country in the world. And without any scary atomic bombs. So, our enemies understand our helpless, make conclusion, and, as a result, we ‘ll be doomed ??? Sorry for negative position. There are my thoughts and questions according to this situation.
About the compelled isolation. I think, we have to take advantage of this time at home. There are so many things to do what we regularly postpone because of the lack of time. Do it now. When isolation ends, you’ll regret about wasting this time.
People consider time and life “after pandemic ” as a different time, different life. My personal opinion is — after the short time to adjusting to a freedom after isolation, life becomes the same what it was before the pandemic, but without the people who lost their lives and who will be missed a lot.
LIFE DURING CORONA
In January there was a Corona virus…
In February there was a Corona virus…
In March there was a Corona virus…in our lives
At March 13th the Wellesley Public Schools closed their doors for 2 weeks.
That moment changed our lives. A week later my husband works from home. The threat of a very contagious disease made our lives different. First there were concerns about our health. Family, teachers, neighbours, everybody wants us to stay healthy. The kids didnt have any homework from school. The main goal was to stay healthy!
What we did at home was a reading challenge. Just before Wellesley Library closes his doors we borrowed two bags full with books. The kids read as many as they can. And after two weeks all the books were finished! That was great, but also a little disappointing because we cant borrow new ones. Its May now and we still missing the library. We dont have a bookshelf with English books and online reading is so uncomfortable. Luckily we have great neighbours and they gave us some books to read. It is remarkable to notice how great this community is. The people are so friendly and it seems they do care about us. We try to do the same and help our neighbours in return. We miss our social lives, but we were used to not seeing our family. It is easier now to communicate online with our family because their are also stuck in their homes too.
After these two weeks the schools remains closing his doors. More and more things, like shops, parks, restaurants, are closing for public. Not urgent appointments are cancelled. The virus has reached his tentacles into Wellesley. You can feel the anxiety of the people. The people are so scared to get sick and die to this horrible disease. I am worried about that. I am really worried about these scared people. You cant control anything happening outside yourself, so I hope they find the power inside. For me there are three big challenges.
- I have received so many emails! Everyday I read and read. Its difficult, but important to understand whats in these emails. I use Google translate and ask my kids and husband for help. I learned a lot of new words!
- We have a dog. In the beginning the parks were still open. Now, the most parks are closed. The parks and woods who are still open, they are so crowded that it is not funny anymore. I really like the rainy, windy days when the parks are empty!
- Homework for the kids. All the technology, the different approaches, the different grades. It was really confusing and we worked hard to get it. My oldest daughters are working independent now. My jongest son needs his mom. So, I am a teacher now, who teaches in a foreign language, using learning methodes I never seen before. It is sometimes very stressfull.
Now we are several weeks further, the main goal still is to stay healthy, but we have to move on. The schools wants that our kids are learning. Work has to finish. English learning has to be done. There is only a big change. We live virtual now most of the day. And everyone has his own personal challenges. We are still growing. Despite or thanks to the Corona virus.
Today is May 3rd, and it is the 54th day since we started our quarantine. We all stay at our house except once and we all only play outside in our backyard.
The only one time I went outside is when I went to the hospital to do the COVID19 drive-through test. That was a really tough time. We all got stick (sore throat, fever, and coughing, coughing..) it started with my husband’s sore throat, then my three young kids (5 years, 3 years, and 4 months) they started to have a fever, runnying nose, and keptep coughing. Then me and my mother & father in law we all started to have a sore throat (my parents in law live together with us). We were so panic that we may get COVID19. My husband was trying to apply for the COVID19 test around March 13, but at that time, the test was not general enough for him to that he can get the test. They only tested the people who awere involved with the Biogen conference or who have direct contact with people who have COVID19. My symptoms becaome worse and worse, my throat was so sore throat and my coughing was so bad that I could not fall asleep in the night. Although we all got sick, we still tried our best to eat enough nutrition, drink plenty of water. On March 19, I wrote another message to my PCP and tried to apply for the COVID19 test again since we were really worried about our young kids and our parents in law (both of them >65). Finally, at that time, MA starteds to have more drive-through tests and have more test capabilities. I went to do the COVID19 drive-through test on March 20, it is a pretty “safe” experience because I couldan just stay in the car and they just swabbed a sample from my nose. But at that time the doctor told us we have to wait one week for the results. And it turns out that after 3 days, we all becaome better. Only the kids have some coughing, but no fever, no sore throat. So when our results came out which was negative, we had already got recovered.
After this experience, we are so thankful that we all got recovered, but it is such a so tough/miserable experience that we are very scared to go outside to bring any virus to our house again (for grocery shopping, we all do online through Costco, Peapod, and Instacart). Especially since the number (death number and the confirmed cases) in the MA keepsis keeping increasing and increasing. We hope more people can follow the social distance guideline and wear a mask when going outside.
And hope we all stay safe and we will be back to normal soon.
Quarantine daily life:
I would say every day is crazy and I am still struggling to balance work and kids’ activities. Both I and my husband are a software engineers, it is lucky for us that we can work from home. My two older daughters (5 years old, and 3 years old), they have virtual online class every morning. Most of the time, they will call MOM to help them out. (This made me laugh out loud–it’s the same in every house, I think! MOM!!)
Except for their online class, in order for me able to do some work, I just open the Youtube, then they will just stick to the Youtube (although I am trying to do some learning station, like NumberBlocks for math, and AlphaBlock for reading, but still they have a lot of screen time.) Other than that, they will do a lot of pretend play, princess dress up, coloring, drawing, and painting. Today, we also did a cheesecake baking together.
Today is Sunday and the weather is very beautiful, we also did a picnic in our backyard, and the kids ate better than normal 🙂 At the same time, I am also very grateful/thankful that I can have so much quality time with my family. Especially these “little pie”, they are so cute/adorable that I feel blessed by just looking at them playing. Last, I just appended some coloring pictures from my little pie. Wish we all have sunshine and beautiful color in our heart.
WHAT I AM DOING?
When this situation started I thought “OK, I can do things that I always wanted to do but did not have time’. The reality is very different. I spend a lot of time with my son helping him with his homework and playing outside when the weather is nice. My husband is working from home, so I’m cooking more than ever. I’m learning new recipes and cooking many cakes. Our family is in another country, so we connect every day with them by FaceTime. When my husband finishes his work, we go for a walk. It’s a great moment when we enjoy with the family. I try to have a little time for myself to exercise, read or watch a series. I look forward to the weekend because there are no homework and everything is easier!
SOMETHING POSITIVE IN THIS PANDEMIC
I’m thinking about these days and I have decided to share one of the positive things that the confinement has brought me. I live outside my country so I’m used to being away from my family and friends, but now I feel closer than ever. Thanks to technology we are connected and we can talk and see each other every day.
There are many people concerned about me and my family who have pleasantly surprised me, people I had no news for a long time, and in this situation they want to know if I’m ok. In my case it’s the same I feel the need to contact people I have not seen for years. I hope this ends soon and we can meet in my country.
Meanwhile we will always have technology!
In this difficult time of quarantine, it has helped us to reconnect with our friends and loved ones. My second story started last Saturday when I woke up with 600 messages from a new group in WhatsApp, Who has written so much? When I started to read was one of my high school friend that organized this group. I started to read from the end to the beginning and all saids: Hi! after 25 years of high school graduated.
I thought the propuse of this group was for our 25th anniversary, high school promotion year 1995. But when I started to read the beginning of the messages my friend tried to contact all our classmates because the Director of our School is sick and and he’s at his terminal stage with 90 years, we decided to make a video with all our classmates to give him comforter and happiness of the last days of his life, we clap, wave, kiss, with a beautiful music behind us, the other high school promotions organized different videos. Will be a nice surprise during this difficult time for him and his family.
On Sunday morning, she sent the video to our beloved teacher, and his family replied sending to us, he sitting at his couch watching all the videos. It was a heartbreaking moment to see him and saying to us THANKS! Monday morning, we saw the last video High School Promotion year 2000 and for all of us was a nice surprise because our Intering President of Venezuela studied the last grade and graduated in our school, he sent an touched video for our Director.
This was a nice weekend for me not only for the nice weather, my son first time riding his bicycle, the zoom connection with my best friend from elementary, middle and high school, was incredible see their faces and catch up on our lives after all this years, was amazing see all, we promise never lost the contact for so long.This is something good that this pandemia give us, for one way less human contact, but more virtual connection with friends with whom I had lost contact for many years, the creation of this chat allowed us to be in touch forever.
PANDEMIC TIMES AS AN IMMIGRANT
When the pandemic occurred, most of us thought that it will not last long. We postponed many things in our lives because that was what we’ve been advised. Nobody thought that this lockdown would last more than three weeks. However, as this advisory lockdown extended, I would say my concern turned into more of an anxiety. While I was trying to customize my family life to the new routine, I also started to follow up with the rate of spreading and deaths in my town, in my state and in the US. We all started to live with numbers, charts, and scientific researches. After a while, checking the numbers and charts have become an ordinary, routine action in our daily life. I’m quite sure that we all experienced similar things at the beginning. However, as an immigrant, I have been also concerned about my loved ones in my home country, so I also checked the same information in my homeland and my hometown. So, my anxiety doubled.
On the other hand, we had to have a plan as a family in case one of us catch Covid-19. The most difficult part of this planning was feeling lonely and insecure and not having any family members to help or for moral support. In my opinion, as an immigrant, the most important issue that I cannot stress enough during these uncertain pandemic times is were feeling insecure. This feeling is already something quite familiar for immigrants. However, the level of it has been highly elevated.
Feeling insecure about the immigration situation, healthcare, and employment/unemployment is not easy. I would imagine the feeling of being insecure when you lose your job and unable to maintain or process your immigration status because government offices are closed. The most devastating part of these issues are the lack of moral support by being away from their families. Although I don’t have any problems such as losing my job or processing my immigration status, I also have this strong feeling of insecureness.
During these days everything is by zoom, my anual check will be the same, but my Primary Care was busy and canceled, because she needs to work at the Hospital and with this pandemia of Covid-19 will be her priority stay there. I was feeling good, and for me wasn’t any problem about the cancelation of my appointment.
Last Wednesday, I started to feel bad with a pain in my bone behind my right ear, I finally call to make and appointment with my Primary Care or my Nurse Practitioner (NP) she take care of me always, 30 min before my appointment someone called me to confirm my name, insurance, day of birth, needs my weight, tension, pulse, temperature all by phone. On time was my zoom appointment with my nurse I talked with her and explained what bother me, but was really difficult show by the computer and I took a photo and sent to her, I explained all about my pain.
At the end she said to me that she needs to do research about this symptoms because she doesn’t know anything about it, and for the pain recommend take acetaminophen and ibuprofen every 4 hours, after a few minutes, she called me again and sent my prescription to the pharmacy a stronger muscular pill, she explained that cause dizziness, and sleepiness, remember drink the pill at night.
A medical appointment will be a problem for me always, from the operator who attends me by phone, to the consultation, try to explain everything in detail in English and at this time behind the computer and a virtual appointment is too much for me. Who feels the same? I hope that my diagnose by zoom will be the most accurate and precisely, I have to take the pill, rest and hope to improve with the days.
breakout pandemic: first, save to life, we are lives the same planet together, economic community together, environment protection together.
I donate protective clothes, donate masks, donate money… don’t ethnic crisis. expect all humans to use genius to confront the virus or all kinds of viruses. expect gets better in the world.
Pandemic, coronavirus, COVID-19. Who doesn’t know these words now. COVID-19 has burst into people’s lives. It broke the plans, canceled meetings, changed the usual course of affairs. I can watched the Americans, who are restrained, follow all the rules and they know the quarantine will still end and gradually life will improve. From TV screens I can watch the Europeans. The pandemic strongly knocked them out of their usual rhythm. But now European people want cafes to open to drink coffee and spend a good time, to walk in the parks, to start their business again.
I can watch people from my native country. The quarantine and bans also affected them. Desperation and irritation are growing in the people, and the end of the quarantine is not visible. The state does not help. There is no hope for quick change for the better.
But the time is running out. The trees are putting on their green outfit. The weather is pleasing its warm sunny days. The summer is coming. People don’t tend to be sad for a long time. The time will come when this period will be only a memory.
I work in Whole Foods Market at Wellesley. I live with my husband and my daughter, as well as my sister Martha in Milford. When the Coronavirus Pandemic started, I started my quarantine on April third. I brought my lovely mom to my house because I have to take care her during this pandemic. Her name is Tomasa and she is 91 years old. She uses a walker but she is healthy. My mother watches TV in her room, where she likes to see the news and what going on, in the world. Currently she is back on her apartment, but I was very lucky to have her with me sometime. I am also very lucky to have a teacher. She is my friend. She gives me English classes by FaceTime once a week. I will also be going back to work soon.
In Spain, we celebrate Mother’s Day the Second Sunday of May, but It wasn’t always like that. Formerly, it was celebrated on December 8th, the day of Inmaculate Maria for the Catholics.
In the sixties a department store decided to celebrate it in May to imitate the American
countries. For several years it was celebrated on both dates, until the Catholic Church ceded as May is the month of the Virgin.
Currently Mother’s Day has a commercial and popular character. Like here, the mothers receive a gift from the children.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN QUARANTINE
Two months in quarantine are so much. During this time many people have celebrated their birthday in a different way. The fact of not being able to get together with friends and family makes us more creative.
Zoom has become essential. On my nephew’s birthday we were connected 14 people. While my nephew was playing with a ball, the rest of the family tried to say something (becoming an impossible mission). My friends prefer to make a video in which each one congratulates the birthday girl. The last one was throwing us toilet paper that seems to have become another essential in the quarantine.
When the birthday person lives in the same town, it’s common that all the friends and family come to his house in car and honk the horn, respecting social distance. Next weekend my son will have a classmate’s birthday and we will participate in a car parade. It will be a new experience. Another way to congratulate children’s birthday is for the police to come to your house. In our country, the police sometimes goes with a dog (like Paw Patrol) and the children are very happy.
My birthday is in October. I hope I can celebrate it in the traditional way, with all my friends, no social distance and no mask, but it can be a dream!
Project for Washington Avenue-Wellesley
My project would be to close a part of Washington Avenue and provide people with a wider sidewalk, so that we could continue the social distance with more security. That would be ON SATURDAYS OR SUNDAYS.
To make things safer, each sidewalk would have a direction. The local business would participate in this modification. The restaurants could place a few tables outside, so it would avoid the crowd of people inside the restaurant. Each restaurant could create a special meal for each weekend or each month. The same for cafes and other stores.
Artists would be invited to participate, so we would be helping the artist to show off their work that for the future, they could charge for it. These artists could be, painters, musicians, magicians or dancers. Students from High School could perform there as well. The traffic would be modified to surrounding streets and we would need police help to organize the traffic that day.
Some benches and umbrellas would be placed on the street, so people could sit and enjoy shade on the hottest days. We could put some plants to decorate, and these plants would be donated by florists or plant stores that would be promoting their store. The benches could be made for carpenters and donate to the city and they will be allowed to identify their work. New artists would have space to register to participate each week. These artists and new marketers should undergo an evaluation. This project would not be just for summer, every month or special dates, something different would be offered to the city.
Thanksgiving: Some artists can dress up in costumes and tell the real Thanksgiving story to children. This would develop a greater interest and love for each special date that we have in the country.
In winter, some towers heaters would be placed near the benches and even on the restaurant tables, providing a more pleasant environment. the street would have a Christmas decoration, like mini lights in stores, a large Christmas tree would be placed at a certain point on the avenue to make the environment more welcoming. Christmas music would be played. Some artists could perform with costumes according to the time of year, telling stories. Choirs can be hired to sing for people. Artificial snow would be placed for children to play. This artificial snow would come out of the roof of some stores. And it would have a special moment to be demonstrated. Santa Claus will be present in a few days to chat with the children.
Restaurants and cafes would offer seasonal food and drinks. Each special date would create different activities, different decorations. Always with the local business, holding meetings and defining what would be offered.
So that the population knows what will be offered, every month on the city website they will be published in the program and also sent by mail to each residence. This is just a small demonstration of what could be done.
My fifth quarantine story.
I love my parents and they will always be a priority in my life. In this difficult time, both felt depressed, sick, lonely, locked up all these months at their house, they talked to their friends to feel connected, talk with me, my brothers and grandchildrens by FaceTime, watched TV all Netflix series and movies.
But the situation is difficult and hard in my country, is a huge risk for my parents walk outside, be on the street because are the most vulnerable people at this time with 86 and 76 years. The advantage that I have is that I can send them food, medicines everything they need and delivered to their house.
Last week was my Father’s Birthday, 86 years old, my Mom with my older brother celebrated with him, we called to see my Dad by FaceTime and we sang Happy Birthday! What a beautiful detail of my Mom to put a family portrait on the table, that allow to us be together celebrating with my Dad his 86 birthday.
Most of all the people I know have taken care of their parents and now is the turn of us to take care not only wit money with a lot of love. I miss them every day and it doesn’t help that we live in another country, but I hope very soon that I can see them again. Count the days to kiss and hug both.