Roxana Rosario, Intern

ONE Neighborhood Builders is fortunate to work with local universities and give internship opportunities to current students. During the Fall of 2020 we have had the ability to work with Roxana Rosario, a Master’s Degree student at Providence College. Like many students around the world, COVID-19 changed their education model and lifestyle. Roxana and her family are Providence residents who have dealt with the impact of COVID-19 firsthand. Below, is her story

Oftentimes, we see things in the news or read things in the history books and feel that our communities could never be touched that way, that our lives could never be uprooted so quickly and drastically in the land of freedom, the land of the American Dream.

Our view of the American Dream shifted at the beginning of March 2020. Just like many college students across the nation, we finished our semesters online and had to reframe or abandon projects along the way. We restructured our lives and schedules to fit indoors, and we were not able to cross the stage at graduation or celebrate with our friends and families. Along with many families across the nation, it meant questioning where we could find necessary food and supplies, stressing about when we could get back to work, and worrying about our health and safety in the face of infection.

My family was hit hard by the pandemic. First, as students. Both my younger sister (a freshman in college) and myself (a senior in college) were both affected by the new health crisis and the subsequent and necessary guidelines. Providence College was forced to shut its doors and shift to online instruction at the end of March. Freshmen like my sister, had their experiences cut short (exploring campus, solidifying friendships, establishing your place in a club or group, etc.) Seniors like myself were not able to properly say goodbye to the staff, professors, and friends that shaped our growth and experiences and provided the instrumental support throughout our four long years. However, we did the best that we could. I was privileged enough to have reliable access to the internet to continue online instruction. I was privileged enough to have professors that were dedicated and understanding of the situation. But most importantly, I was blessed to have an amazing and supportive family. In four years, I gained so much knowledge, considerate mentors, and great friends.

My family was hard hit by the pandemic as employees. In a family of 6, my father was the only member employed full-time at the start of the pandemic. My parents struggle with language barriers as they do not speak fluent English and employment opportunities are difficult to come by. My mother takes the role of housewife, while my father works at a factory full-time. When the factory where my dad works was closed due to local guidelines at the time, my family held a sharp focus on the financials. My younger sister and I were both full scholarship students, so we never had to consider dropping out of college due to financial reasons. I was later able to find a graduate assistant position to cover the costs of continuing my education at the Master’s level. My parents had money saved, so we were able to cover bills and food, especially after the relief packages and unemployment benefits were given to families. My father was called back for employment due to years of loyalty to his employer.

My family was hard hit by the pandemic, lastly, biologically. In a family of 6, four of us officially received positive test results for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. My younger sister and I had very mild symptoms, while my parents demonstrated more severe symptoms. They both demonstrated close to all the symptomatology for the disease and were bedridden for a full month. This took the biggest toll on our family. My older sister and niece had to halt their daily visits to our home, and my younger sister and I (who although infected, had milder symptoms) stepped into the role of caretakers and homemakers, on top of our roles as students. Slowly (very slowly) but surely, my parents recovered and returned to their old, energetic selves.

There is no denying that my family faced hardships through this pandemic and continues to face them. As a nation, we are more fortunate than other countries around the world. There is also no denying that, like many, we were severely underprepared for the public health crisis that the coronavirus presented.

However, the average person demonstrated resilience in the face of uncertainty and humanity in the face of mortality. We reached out to our friends, neighbors, and local businesses. We made use of the tools at our disposal to continue educating our youth and communicating with our communities. I am positive that one day, we can use this pandemic as a tool to mitigate future pandemics and their impact on communities and individuals. Let us think of all of our community members and what each of us can do to make sure that each member has their health and safety protected as is expected in living the American Dream.