Coronavirus: Under the oppressed rule of Confinement.

New Decade. New Virus. New Actions. New Future. 

By: Ange Martinez

“Stay home. Stay five feet away from me. Wash your hands. No trips to school. No hangouts at your friend’s house. No stepping outside of this house without a mask and gloves. No shopping. No traveling. No graduation. Online only.” After those constant phrases echoed in the ears of students and teachers, many were rewarded with the exciting news that they will no longer attend what was known to be so dreadful– school. Nevertheless, this news proved to be harder than what they had expected. 

Covid-19

With the start of a new decade, the world did not see the forthcoming of a new pandemic that would drastically change their future. The new Coronavirus (COVID-19) has globally spread since it made its first appearance in China. Starting as an insignificant virus on animals, it soon developed into an uncontrollable plague, whilst jumping into human bodies. Considering that hygienic standards are difficult to maintain in overpopulated areas, the disease left many ill and some dead. According to the Global Health Organization, “around 20% of Covid-19 cases have been classed as ‘severe’ and the current death rate varies between 0.7% and 3.4%.” Despite having low death rates, this pandemic prompted fear and anxiety amongst citizens leading to the generation of new governmental measures such as quarantine.  

Quarantine is a governmental term that describes the action of preventing the spread of contagious diseases. With coronavirus dominating our current lifestyle, this term acquired a negative connotation for students and teachers, since it led to the possibility of ending the school year online. Nicaragua Christian Academy International has fallen victim, like most schools, to the consequences of this new virus which caused some teachers to travel back home, students to feel new levels of emotional issues, and seniors to possibly move on to their next stage in life without saying their goodbyes. Evidently interviewing many students and teachers have led to the conclusion that many are embarking into a journey of uncertainty on their future. 

Interview with Daniella Morales: Senior 

How was your experience with the transition to remote learning? 

It has been pretty good since we had some experience with it back in 2014 and 2018.  not something new but I definitely think this has been the best transition out of the three because of the prior experiences.

Do you have any particular feelings towards what the future of this school year might look like? 

I am honestly expecting the worst, I feel like online schooling will have to be the end of my senior year and I am sad about it but there’s not much I can do about it. 

Are you experiencing loneliness, stress, anxiety, or emotional problems? If so, how do you cope with it?

Yes, I need to come to the realization that graduation may not happen and that I may not see my friends ever again and I haven’t really coped with it yet, I have ignored them for now. I keep myself distracted from really coming to terms with that.

Were you forced to take certain measures like leaving the country? 

Yes I was. We left for Florida on the 30th of March and it was quite stressful. Our first flight was delayed which meant that our 2 hour layover became a 10 minute layover, so we had to rush to our next gate and that was the cherry on top of all the precautions in the airports due to COVID-19. It was like I was flying for the first time. 

Have you felt less motivated to do schoolwork?

Yes, I am an auditory and visual learner so now that I have to read everything myself it has become a bit hard to do my schoolwork because I am not able to see and hear my teachers and fellow classmates. I have to talk myself into doing my work because concentrating has become more of a burden than a daily habit.

Interview with Gabriel Gomez: Sophomore 

How would you say your life has changed since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nicaragua? 

Life is definitely much more quiet. I don’t spend as much time with friends or people outside of my family group, which means that I don’t get to socialize as much. However, I do spend a lot more time with my family, and on my computer playing video games or watching Netflix shows or whatever is on YouTube, which I find entertaining.

How are you coping with your social activities being disrupted?

I don’t mind my social activities being disrupted, I enjoy my alone time, and I get to play video games and chill in my room. Sure, I do miss my friends but we still communicate through calls, either through Zoom or Discord. 

Have you felt more schoolwork has been assigned than normal? 

I feel that the school work they are giving us is a lot less. On a normal school day we spend about seven hours learning, plus an hour or two of homework. Now that we do online school, I only do about three to six hours a day. On average, I’d say I do five hours. So I say it is less school work. 

What are ways you keep yourself from being bored? 

I do a variety of actions to keep myself from being bored. This is because after doing a single thing for a while I grow bored of it. So I usually switch between playing video games, watching a Netflix series, watching youtube videos, hanging out in the pool, hanging out with my family, playing instruments, and watching a series with my siblings. 

Do you have any words of encouragement to your fellow classmates and teachers during this tough time?

Life might seem lonesome and dreary. However, take all the new free time you have to hang out with your family, learn something outside of school without having to leave your house, like a new language or an instrument if you have one. Don’t get too caught on with the news and get cynical. However, do stay cautious. Also if you can, get in contact with a friend or distant family member you haven’t talked to in a while, through video calls, and chats. We can still socialize through the internet, it is not the same, but it is better than nothing.

Interview with Nathan Holtrop: Eight Grade

How was your experience with the transition to remote learning? 

My experience with the transition in learning has been pretty good and I definitely think it could have been much worse.

Do you have any particular feelings towards what the future of this school year might look like? 

I feel the future for the school year is somewhat unknown, but I think we will be doing online classes for either most of or the rest of the year.

Are you experiencing loneliness, stress, anxiety, or emotional problems? If so, how do you cope with it?

I am not experiencing emotional problems.

Were you forced to take certain

measures like leaving the country? 

I have not had to leave the country.

Have you felt less motivated to do schoolwork?

I still have pretty much the same motivation to get my schoolwork done.

Interview with Maria Alejandra Garcete: Eight Grade

How would you say your life has changed since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nicaragua? 

I would say my life has changed since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Nicaragua by not being able to go out to see other friends and family. Also, my life has changed by doing online school instead of physical school. 

How are you coping with your social activities being disrupted?

I’m coping well. I’m giving thanks that at least I’m together with my family and have food. 

Have you felt more schoolwork has been assigned than normal? 

It all depends on the class. 

What are ways you keep yourself from being bored? 

Some ways I keep myself from being bored are baking, watching TV, and playing video games. 

Do you have any words of encouragement to your fellow classmates and teachers during this tough time?

Teachers: Thank you for your hard work! I recognize that you are worried for your family and you still manage to help us in our schoolwork. Hopefully, we can see each other soon and be together in God’s grace. 

Classmates: I encourage you guys to keep up the good work! I miss you all and I’m glad that even though we can’t see each other physically, we are still in touch.

Interview with Mrs. Stuebner: Science 

How would you say your life has changed since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nicaragua? 

I stay home a lot more, and worry about my dad more. (He has no white blood cells due to a cancer-like disease, and if he gets Covid-19, it will kill him.)

Have you felt less motivated to grade schoolwork? 

Do I ever feel motivated to grade?! Maybe a little less, but grading is always something I despise.

How was your experience with the transition to remote teaching? 

I like it better this year than two years ago. Zoom helps me feel like I’m still connected to my students and still able to help them. I don’t like sitting at my computer and typing almost all day. I think I’m not getting enough exercise, and my body feels the difference.

What are ways you keep yourself from being bored? 

Literally – dumb stuff! 🙂 Sometimes I go up and down the stairs just to get some exercise!

Do you have any words of encouragement to your fellow students and coworkers during this tough time? 

If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, consider it. There is little hope or comfort without Him. If you have a relationship with Jesus, pursue it. Develop it. Read your Bible; there’s a lot of great encouragement in it. Pray often, and cast all your cares on Him, even if you do it angrily. He can take it, and He loves you, even when you doubt Him, or yell at Him or whatever. He is faithful.

Interview with Mr. Sandahl: Organizational and Strategic Advisor

How would you say your life has changed since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nicaragua?  

The obvious difference is that I spent all my time at home, instead of at the schools, however, the bigger differences stem from the continually changing context.  There are extra work challenges in regards to communication with the schools, parents, and students that are needed with greater frequency and greater explanation. Planning also takes on another dimension as things constantly change and it is nearly impossible to plan more than a day or two at a time.  The work issues are further complicated by having to resolve learning and technology issues for kids at home. Distraction from work has also taken on a new dimension as many of the normal escapes (mainly sports and social gatherings) have needed to be adapted.

How was your experience with the transition to remote teaching? 

My experience with remote teaching is more from a parent and administrator side of things.  As a parent, it has not been much of a problem because my kids are older and can for the most part figure things out for themselves.  The biggest challenge has been keeping them motivated to push forward with their work. As an administrator and supervisor, I have been very happy with the effort and commitment of all the teachers to make things work as best as possible under the circumstances.  Teachers have gone the extra mile and have given all their energy to making this a good experience for each student. 

Are you experiencing loneliness, stress, anxiety, or emotional problems? If so, how do you cope with it? 

Personally I have not felt much more stress or anxiety than normal, however, I work with many people that are dealing with very high levels of stress.  The first thing to remember or share with people dealing with stress is that God is in control and knows our situation. Therefore it is important to be in God’s Word and listening to hear what he has to say about things.  Secondly, it is important to analyze and evaluate the information we are receiving, is it true and does it fit with God’s perspective on things. Thirdly, take advantage of the technology that is available and find creative ways to do interesting things with friends and family that help you think and interact in a way that distracts you from the things that have you lonely, stressed, anxious, or otherwise preoccupied. 

Have you found technology to be more efficient during this particular period?

Technology is a tool that can be very helpful in these circumstances of social distancing, however, technology does not solve everything and some things just work better with personal face to face communication.  There is also a problem with technology in that the current infrastructure and availability of the services is not adequate and therefore we have issues of maintaining optimal connectivity and quality service. These deficiencies can lead to greater frustration and anxiety. 

Do you have any particular feelings towards what the future of this school year might look like? 

I certainly hope we will be able to get back to on-campus classes before the end of this school year, however, I am also very much aware that that is not in my hands to decide.  As such, I take things one day or a week at a time and seek to make the most of it. It’s going to be different than any other year we have lived and probably different than any future year we will live, so find the joy in each day and treasure the blessings that God has given us.    

Do you have any words of encouragement to your fellow students and coworkers during this tough time? In Phillipians 4:12, Paul says that he learned to be content in all circumstances but in verse 14 he goes on to say that it was good that the Phillipians shared in his troubles. We may not be able to be physically close to our friends, classmates, teachers, or co-workers but that does not mean that they are abandoned.  We can still connect with them, encourage them, support them, etc. We can still be a part of each other’s lives and continue to grow in our relationships with each other and with God. Remember to: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid;  do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1: 8-9

Interview with Ms. McFall: Math

Are you experiencing loneliness, stress, anxiety, or emotional problems? If so, how do you cope with it?

I have moments of all those things, and I am sure that at some point I will really just let myself break down and cry for all that we are missing this year, particularly for the seniors. But I’ve been pretty okay for now. I’ve made it a point to get out of the house to go on walks around the neighborhood or driving to a park to do some bird watching. That has been a huge factor in keeping my sanity. 

How are you coping with your social activities being disrupted?

I’m doing okay for now. I imagine as we get closer to the end of the year and we start to hit those dates of, “Oh, today was the senior farewell chapel” it’ll be more emotional. Most of my disappointment goes out to the seniors and what they are missing out on. 

Do you have any particular feelings towards what the future of this school year might look like?

I am hopeful that we will be able to come back together and finish the year together in person, but I am prepared to to finish the year virtually, and I am thinking through what that looks like for each of my classes and for my seniors. 

Were you forced to take certain measures like leaving the country? If so, what was your experience?

I wouldn’t say I was forced, I made the choice. I talked with my parents, people at school, my sending organization, and everyone agreed it made the most sense for me to come to the States. It was a very surreal experience because I flew through Houston and there were almost no people in the airport. That was very weird. Even now, it’s surreal that it’s April and I’m in the States. I keep waiting to wake up in Nicaragua and go, “Whoa, that was a weird dream.”

Have you felt less motivated to grade schoolwork? 

Honestly, yes. The reason is because I’m constantly switching back and forth between different screens. Grading takes about 3 times as long as it did before, and that affects my motivation because I don’t feel like I’m getting things done as efficiently as before.

Do you have any words of encouragement to your fellow students and coworkers during this tough time?

It’s very easy to feel discouraged and to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Instead of watching the 8th episode in a row of a TV show or playing Minecraft in your room all day, choose to go for a walk, play a game, read a book, call a friend. Find something that brings you joy. Maybe it’s something you haven’t been able to do for a while. Maybe it’s something you have been wanting to learn to try. Maybe you saw what somebody else was doing and it sparked an idea. Create something. Build something. Research and learn about something. Share something. When we all come out of this, I hope that you will find you have done more than left an indention in a chair. 

Interview with Mr. Starkenburg: Director

How was your experience with the transition to remote teaching?

I’ve taught parts of my Bible class online before, but would still say I highly prefer face-to-face teaching.

Are you experiencing loneliness, stress, anxiety, or emotional problems? If so, how do you cope with it?

It has been a good time to do more things with my wife and kids.  I’m not lonely, and my main stress has been having to make decisions regarding the future of NCAI.

What are ways you keep yourself from being bored? 

I’ve been working through the CS50 puzzles, which just came out last weekend.  I’m also reading a book, which is something I’ve wanted to be able to spend more time doing.

Were you forced to take certain measures like leaving the country? If so, what was your experience?

My family and I are still at home in Nicaragua.  We are hopeful that we will be able to stay safe and healthy here.

Do you have any particular feelings towards what the future of this school year might look like? 

A lot of what the last month of school will look like depends on what happens during the next week or so.  If we have reason to believe that COVID-19 is not spreading in Nicaragua, it might be possible to return to school.  But if we see signs of escalation in the spread of the virus, we might have to finish up the school year online.

Do you have any words of encouragement to your fellow students and coworkers during this tough time?

Yes, my consistent prayer throughout these past few weeks has been that faculty, staff, students, parents, and people throughout the world would turn to God as the only consistent source of strength we can depend on.  Now, more than ever, we can plainly see that so many other things that people turn to for success or fulfillment are more fragile than we usually think. It’s a good reminder of our humanity and our dependence on our Creator

Despite many “cannot leave the house or hang out with friends,” the students and teachers interviewed have provided our NCAI Community with further insight and motivation on our current life situation. This pandemic has staggeringly changed the course of our destiny, for which it is why many individuals from within our community find themselves struggling in this journey of uncertainty since we are all under the oppressed rule of quarantine. 

Will we, as a community, ever break the chains of this cruel oppression?