A coworker and friend used the “s*** or get off the pot” metaphor to think about our current situation. The State department sent out an email to Americans living abroad. The message was that you should not do any optional travel, but you should hunker down where you are or return to the US. There’s talk that the borders might get sealed.
Families were left with a choice. We can still do our online teaching as long as we have internet, but some are choosing to do this from the US.
It’s such an uncertain time and I’m asking questions every day that I’d never considered. My instinct kept telling me to stay. We have an apartment, a community. We live in a beautiful condo complex with wide open spaces for outdoor play and a trail for hiking and pretending we live in the Atlantic rainforest.
In the US, we’d have to crash with family or go to the condo we use in Minnesota, but we’d have to rent a car and figure life out there. We have family, but no friends. Where will things be worse. Brazil is still under 1000 cases (probably not for long) but the US (as I write this) is at 21,000+ cases. So, right now, it’s better here. Where is it better? I don’t know. No one can know.
And what does this mean for our home leave next summer? Great question. No one knows. We have plane tickets to the US in June. Will we be on that plane? I don’t know. There’s a scenario where we don’t leave Brazil this June/July.
We are choosing to fish instead of cut bait.
It’s okay. I’m feeling okay with that gamble. I have a family that is healthy. I have a job. We are okay. And, for whatever reason, here feels better. There’s a sense of solidarity. I can’t really explain it. About half the teacher families left, about half stayed. I think and hope we will all be okay.
We are staying.
Am I overwhelmed. Hell f-ing yes. I keep asking what happens when starvation spreads through Brazil and the US. When all of the hourly workers living paycheck to paycheck now have no paycheck and no food. Seriously, what happens to all those kids?
I know that I speak for a lot of educators when I tell you that we are all thinking about the kids. We give kids a safe place with food every day. When we are closed…what then, for them? Consider that seriously.
I think of those photos of the Great Depression. 25% unemployment. Families abandoning children because they couldn’t feed them. Those stories haunt me.
I also really love our life and I’m clinging to it. I want to hold on to all this as much as I can. Not that people who left don’t. I know that we all have our situations–newborn babies, elderly parents, social isolation.
I’m grateful for David and these three crazy kids, because at least we have each other. If I was alone in NYC like I was in my first year of teaching, this would be a really hard time. I’m grateful for this crazy big family of mine.
I just want the time machine so I can jump ahead 3 months, see that everything is okay and come back. We keep facing situations every day that we didn’t see coming the day before.
A family in our condo who aren’t teachers but sent their kids to Graded got the call that they were flying home tonight. They had 4 hours to pack. That’s it. They have an apartment full of furniture and belongings, and they had to pack whatever they could fit.
And they have a bunny. Chester. Matilda is obsessed with Chester. So, when the message went out that they needed to find a home for the bunny, I looked at David. We were thinking the same thing. We will take that bunny.
Becca HennardMarch 21, 2020
Hi Meg! This is Becca Hennard, your old bio teacher (and getting older every day!) I really enjoy your posts. As for the current situation, we are back at our house in the USA. We are currently in our 6th year of teaching in Jakarta, and about to graduate our oldest next year and the younger one the year after. We decided to come to the USA for reasons you have touched upon. We are fortunate that we bought our house 11 years ago and have never rented it, though several cousins have lived here during their first year of teaching. Well, we turfed out the latest first year teacher and moved in Wednesday! Really, living in Indonesia, it was a bit of a no-brainer for us. Internet quality is poor and signal unreliable, plus the government have really been woeful in their response. Embassy advice for both our nationalities was to leave, mainly because medical support would essentially amount to zero should we get the virus. Also, and this will sound awful, but we have household staff that did not know a THING about coronavirus until we sat down and told them about it. They are in and out of their densely populated local communities who are not practising any sort of isolation and believe that “prayer” will be sufficient protection. So, we packed and left. One bad thing is that I applied for a 6 month visa (and paid for it, I might add!) but by the time I requested the mandatory interview they’d stopped them, so I am on a 90 day visa waiver and have a one way ticket to the UK on June 14th. After that, who knows? Anyway, stay safe, enjoy your family and hiking trails. Like all of us, I think we have a new-found appreciation for the freedoms in our lives! Peace and love, Becca XXX