Contributor is exactly Wilzave Quiles Guzman
2021-11-03Through this oral history, Clare Acosta and I develop a conversation about both the Community Engagement office work and the program of Empower: Ecuador. The conversation was specifically focused on the before and after of COVID-19 and also what was learned from the process. It is a very deep conversation that I really enjoyed and know that Clare also did.
2020-03-15Previous to COVID-19, everything related to community engagement was hands-on, face-to-face, and in-person. However, right after spring break in 2020, everything changed because of COVID-19, and new ways of interacting with the community and each other were used. To demonstrate this I uploaded for this item a screenshot from the Instagram page of the Community Engagement Office of St. Mary's University. Almost none of us were used to zoom and in a couple of weeks zoom turned into the number one platform used by businesses and schools as a means of communication and our community engagement was not the exception. One of the activities that were made during COVID-19 was a Netflix Party through zoom with many students engaged through the network. As a personal experience, I was part of a group/class called Empower: Ecuador that was very focused on personal relationships and community building, and transitioning to zoom was not easy. However, we were able to culminate our semester and encounter new ways to connect with each other through zoom and other social platforms in meaningful ways while keeping each other safe from getting sick. It was a matter of caring for each other so deeply that connecting in person was no longer an option, but our intentionality to connect and interact with each other grew in many other creative ways to achieve the goal of community engagement despite all the difficulties that we were all going through.
2021-08-14When being part of the program Empower: Ecuador at my school, we were preparing ourselves to travel to Guayaquil, Ecuador to be present with the families in the community. The families in the community were called our neighbors. Prior to traveling and meeting families in person, each person from the class was given a bookmark with a picture of a neighbor and a brief description of who they were. We were supposed to pray for the person selected and have him/her in our hearts until we meet them in person. Due to COVID-19, we were never able to meet these people whom we felt very close to and it was very sad. Therefore, we were tasked with the beautiful idea of writing letters to them about our prayers and best wishes for them in times of trouble. After a couple of months, I received a message through Messenger, and to my surprise, it was the person I wrote the letter to. She was thanking me for the letter and for how happy she felt when she received it. Also, she shared the desire to get to know me more through social media. It was a beautiful moment and proof of how we could connect with each other despite the social distance. To express this story I am sharing a screenshot of a conversation through Facebook (messenger) with a neighbor from Guayaquil, Ecuador. She is telling me that she received the letter I sent and how grateful she is for it.
2020-03-15I was part of the group of student that was preparing themselves emotionally, spiritually, and physically to go to Ecuador and be present with a community in Guayaquil. During this class and for the entire semester we were in retreats together, reading, journaling, and sharing our hearts with each other. We built a community and were deeply connected with the mission of the program and the desire to go to Ecuador and meet the neighbors. However, exactly a couple of days before traveling the lockdown happened, and the plans were canceled. We did not know that the world was going to change so suddenly and immediately. I clearly remember the meeting we had to announce that the trip was canceled and how most of us were filled with sadness and crying. Afterward, we kept being in connection to Ecuador with our prayers and writings. We even wrote some letters to our neighbors in Ecuador. So, this story is to reflects how we can be in connection and engagement with others even during times of depression and distance and how in specific this program had to adapt through COVID-19. To express the story I chose the screenshot of an Instagram post from the Community Engagement Office at St. Mary's University.