A conversation with Brandon Ramirez
Coordinator of the scholarship students in Tierra Nueva 2, Guatemala
I am in my last year of high school. It has been very hard during the pandemic. At the beginning, the teachers were preparing printed packets of our homework for us to pick-up and complete at home. Now, the teachers are sending the homework online and we need to use Word and Excel. I don’t have a computer, my phone doesn’t have enough memory for programs, and I don’t feel it is safe to go to the internet café because of the new coronavirus. The market here was recently closed due to 7 vendors testing positive, so we know the virus is here. Sometimes my friends at school send me the homework in a different format so I can print it out and do it by hand. Sometimes my sister lets me work on her phone, but it takes a long, long time to load. Even when I can do the homework, without an explanation from the teacher, I don’t feel like I am really learning. Many of us in my class feel like it might be better to repeat our grade next year, so that we actually learn the material. I am not sure whether or not that will be possible for me.
I am the Coordinator of the Scholarship Student Group here in Tierra Nueva 2 (Guatemala). We had wanted to do more with the scholarship group this year. We wanted to have regular meetings to get to know each other and support each other more. I was going to ask former scholarship students to join us to help us on homework or with other student difficulties. With the pandemic, we can’t do this. Hopefully we can try again next year.
We are still receiving the scholarship payments this year. Our expenses are higher now, with internet use, and earning money is harder now for our families, so the support is needed. I have been checking in with the other students to see how they are doing. Some of them are at different schools. Some say that they have a weekly meeting by Messenger or Zoom with their teacher, who explains the material, and then assigns the homework for the week. That seems to be working better.
Even with all of the difficulties, we have seen a few positive things come out of the pandemic. As a family, we are spending more time together and we can feel the love and the closeness of our family. That keeps us keeping on in spite of all the negative things. We might see that the pandemic came and destroyed everything. But we also have more time as a family and we have time to meditate, think, and talk with God. There are people here who forgot about God, but they are finding God again now, praying that all this passes. We have time now for reconciliation, for meditation, and for prayer.
Brandon, you are an inspiration to us all. Jeff and I are so proud to know you. We look forward to a time when we can see you again in person and give you big hugs! We love you, Rita & Jeff