Teaching, Travel

A Change of Scenery

I haven’t written in a while because life is absolutely batty, which I don’t even really need to say, I guess because we are all living it. It’s weird. Normally, you’d have to compose a blog post or a social media post about going through some stuff, and sorry that I’m absent. Ha. No explanation needed. We all understand.

But, I wanted to give you an update on our lives. I’m going to start doing some more blogging about my teaching and things I’m doing to survive my teaching. But first, a personal update.

Our school works with a team of filmmakers and they asked me if I would be interested in working with them. They dropped off tripods and steady cams and an iPhone at our apartment. We spent about a week documenting what our life was like, teaching online and raising 3 kids. The film team, The Filmistas, edited it into this amazing final product:

I got so many amazing messages from parents, students, and other teachers. I basically cried every time a message came in. Every time I watch the video I cry. I cry a lot.

About a week and a half ago, we got the call that our school would not be reopening during this school year. David and I had been talking about next steps. It’s so hard to know what next week will bring and how I will feel about it. There are about 100 scenarios of what might play out, and I’m never sure how I’m going to feel.

We happened to have the May Day holiday coming up, which gave us a 3 day weekend to travel. We got yelled at by doormen for letting our kids play in the sand below the roped off playgrounds in our condominium. We both realized it was time to go.

I felt some guilt about leaving. Staying was a point of pride at first. Maybe I shouldn’t have felt pride at staying, but I did. Deciding then to leave felt a bit like abandoning ship.

But my admin was really supportive. They understood and they knew that we needed to do what was right for us. That gave me some peace. Just the idea of being somewhere different suddenly sounded amazing.

We have a key factor in place for us to leave: a place to stay. We have a townhouse in Minnesota that technically belongs to my in laws, but we’ve made it ours for the summers. We spent nearly 3 weeks here last year, and we put bunkbeds in it, beefed up the kitchen stuff, stocked it with art supplies.

So now we are hunkered down in Northfield, Minnesota, an incredibly cute and cool college town. It’s small, it’s quiet, and there’s lots of open space. There are only 2 cases of COVID here as of my last reading, and the governor is making thoughtful, careful decisions–in my opinion, at least.

Brazil is also getting bad. The cases are rising, the deaths are rising. More scary to me is the number of people facing starvation because of the shut-down economy. The government is not providing significant support. There is a quarantine in place, where only essential businesses were supposed to be open, but right before we left, we noticed lots of businesses on the street open.

I don’t want to get into a whole big debate, but let me tell you where I always go first: the children. Bear with me while I explain. When you shut down all retail–all malls, bars, restaurants, stores, etc–that is a huge segment of the Brazilian population. They live hand to mouth. And they have children. What happens when the money and the food run out? If you want to keep the economy closed, then the government has to feed those kids. I don’t see that happening. (To be clear, I am not minimizing the death toll. I am just afraid of those other deaths, the children facing malnutrition.)

Okay, so, on Friday night, May 1, we flew out. We snagged a cheap upgrade to business class and jumped on it. Business class was full, but the seats are very separated. In coach, there were empty rows between passengers. The airports were ghost towns. There were maybe 40 people on our international flight, and 20 on our domestic flight.

As soon as we rented our car and got the house, our kids hopped on the bikes in the garage and went around the block. We walked to a playground that wasn’t roped off with caution tape. I almost cried watching them play.

I have more to say and more stories to tell, but I’ve got to go teach my 7th grade class via Zoom.

Signing off from the prairie,


Leave a Reply