It has been perhaps the longest and fastest summer I have ever experienced. The months between March and August jumbled and blended, with new events happening every day, yet still an overwhelming feeling of fear and uncertainty. Inequalities are repeatedly being shown, and people are continuing to fight against larger structures because they want the future to be different, to be better than what we have right now.
But the future can be a fickle thing, especially for many of us that have this anxiety of how life will work out if we are not constantly working. That was my dilemma these past few months, debating on whether I should focus on the now or worry about the future, and that became translated in my decisions on what to do during my “break.” The part of me focused on the present needed to work and make money because of finances, but the part of me worried about law school wanted to ensure that I wasn’t perceived as a slacker. I now realize that this mentality of productivity versus laziness has been instilled in me by a system that values money, therefore the illusion of hard work, instead of mental and physical well-being.
It was difficult to feel like I wasn’t going to make the most of my time like my peers because I know most of the students at Brown University can afford to take on an unpaid internship. I went to work at a fast-food restaurant, and after Texas started re-opening, I began to work at a shoe-store. Honestly, working both of those jobs is every bit as impressive as an impressive internship, no one can change my mind on that. My original internship at the Texas Center for the Environment could not work out in May because of COVID-19 rates, and while I was saddened, I think it allowed for another door to open for me.
While I do have a lot of criticism towards Brown during this pandemic especially with fall semester plans, they really did try to give students summer opportunities. They started a new funding opportunity named SPRINT, and I was very gratefully matched with one of my former professors to research and create my own module for a First-Year seminar class on the US-Mexico border.
The research was very personal to me since my parents are from Matamoros, Mexico, right on the edge of the border, and I was born in Texas, a borderland. There is so much rich history and conflicting, vibrant dynamics that surround this controversial line, and I wanted to be apart of the class as a peer mentor for the incoming first-years. Originally I wanted to do a module over labor because it is a driving force in migration, but the Black Lives Matter Movement and how the LatinX community was starting to erase the stories of Afro-LatinX people from the narrative really made it clear to me that I needed to bring in ideas of identity, intersectionality, inequality to the classroom.
I’ve also been taking a summer class on social justice films in Latin America because I have always been interested in films, and the class solidified the idea of criticizing the intention of every single frame, camera movement, placement, etc. It has truly been an enriching experience. That’s really the point of our time, to make it worthwhile to ourselves. COVID-19 used to be a virus that I knew was a problem, but no one I knew had it. Now I know people that have had it, do have it currently, and have died from it. I don’t know what the next few months will look like because in March I certainly didn’t expect my summer plans to be as chaotic as they have been. I do know that even if I am not ready for what is next, time has no pause, so I better buckle up.