LEADERSHIP ABROAD IN COSTA RICA. This post is part of a series for the class Socially Responsible and Ethical Student Leadership (ALD 379).
I started reading about COVID-19 when it started making headlines back in early February. I knew it was going to have a huge impact, but I certainly did not predict all of this. In my own life and those of my relatives, a lot has changed. For me, I had three trips be canceled. Two study abroad programs I had planned and was extremely excited about and a trip to Washington, D.C. to present some of my research I had been working on all semester. To have all of those amazing opportunities be taken away because of this virus was very heartbreaking, to say the least. I was very down about the whole situation and to have all my classes go online is strange and something I am still trying to get used to. However, I feel lucky to be in good health and to have already been living at home with my mom, so I did not have to worry about moving. I hope in the future I am able to somehow make up for those lost opportunities.
My very first semester my freshman year, I unexpectedly lost my father to flu complications so my heart aches for all the individuals around the world losing family and friends to covid-19. I know what it is like to have your whole world be turned upside down by something that is completely out of your hands. Since the University of Texas let out for spring break, I have stayed inside and avoided direct contact with people to flatten the curve. It really is a surreal time. I feel a sense of urgency but feel like I can do very little. I worry about those who do not have a home, those who still have to work, and those who have been laid off. It is a hard time for everyone around the world, and at some point covid-19 will affect every single person in some way. My own sister was recently laid off from her job and she is about to graduate from college, but I worry about her having a difficult time getting a steady job during all of this.
During my time at home, I have started to work out a lot more, listen to music and try to stick to a schedule, having classes start again has been a breath of fresh air, though it still feels like such a disconnection from my professors and peers. At first, as a learner, I had been obviously following the coronavirus news. Though, it really started to hurt my mental health. Reading all the stories of what was going on in Italy and now in America was just all too heartbreaking. So, I decided to take some time to do other things that would take my mind off of the issue, though it is very hard to do as it is on the news, social media, it is everywhere. I try to stay updated and informed but in a healthy amount.
I think my strength of adaptability has allowed me to adjust better to what the new normal is and is the strength I am celebrating the most. I know it is a really hard time for everyone. I have tried to think of ways to help those around me. I always enjoyed eating out and have a lot of favorite restaurants in Austin that I frequent, but obviously now that isn’t really an option and a lot of local businesses are hurting a lot with having little to no customers. So, I have bought several gift cards to the places I really enjoy going to and I look forward to supporting them more when all of this is over. I hope to think of other small ways to help out my community during these tough times.
I have tried to have a positive outlook on everything that is going on and be as optimistic as I can be, but it is very hard as there is so much uncertainty of what the future will hold, how long this will go on and so forth. I am just looking forward to the day I am able to go hang out with friends, go to class in-person, and travel the world. Until then I am focusing on my opwn mental and physical health while enjoying quality time with my dog and cat.
Kennedy Teel is a third-year Government major with a minor in Philosophy of Law. She is passionate about being able to serve as a quality ethical and responsible leader in order to make a significant difference in her community by inspiring others to take action, to improve themselves and those around them, and to find their own voice. Special thanks to Dr. Bumphus and Javier Wallace for being supportive guides during an uneasy and challenging semester. ¡Pura Vida!