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What About Us?

Sunset of the day we found out our journey was coming to an end.

April 18th, 2020 was supposed to be our final day in Cambodia. Yet, April 18th, 2020 marked 1 month and 7 days of being home- in the US.

Truthfully, the last two weeks have been difficult. I think it has started to hit me that the flight here was not for a quick home visit and that I will not be returning to my students and my warm life in Cambodia. Although it is hard, I remind myself of all of the things I learned, the personal growth I went through, the smiles I received, the relationships I built and the people I grew to love. I appreciate every second of my journey and I am happy to have the memories.

Shout out to Matt for sending this in the Minerva Fellows group chat because this is how I truly feel!

Other than missing my students and friends, this has been so difficult for me because I am worried about them. In the Fall of 2017, I learned that my days of struggles come to an end. Before starting my journey as a Minerva Fellow, I knew that I was going to face several struggles in my placement. I prepared myself by expecting to struggle and face challenges but, I knew, that at the end of those 9 months, my struggles were going to come to an end.

I am constantly saying how I felt much safer in Cambodia and how I wish that I was still there instead of here. Every time I say this or think about this, I feel guilty. I feel guilty because I know that Union decided to remove us from our placements because if anything did happen to us, if we did have COVID- 19, we could properly get treated here (saying this lightly) and be with our families. I worry that my students and friends will contract the virus and not have access to a hospital. I worry that my students and their families would get the virus because they cannot work from home like many of us here. I worry that my students and their families would get the virus and not know because they do not have access to tests and therefore infect others around them.

What About Us?

The day we got to say goodbye to some of our students, one of them asked “What about us?” when we told them that Union thought we’d be safer in the US. And seriously, what about them?! I wish there was a way for me to be in constant communication with them. I wish that there was something that I could potentially do for them and their families to make them feel and stay safe. But, there isn’t. If I were to still be in Cambodia, I would be worried about my access and the hospital’s abilities to help me if I were sick, but, I am here and not there. The worry of having access to a hospital and proper care is a struggle that I no longer have but I know that various people in Cambodia do. This along with many other scenarios/situations that I encountered throughout my journey reminded me and helped me acknowledge my privilege. My heart is with all of my loved ones in Cambodia and I am always hoping for the best.

Here are some photos of my last two days

Tata and Ana became family. From the first day I walked into Latinos Bar & Restaurant to my last night in Cambodia, my relationship with these women grew immensely and they always had my back! I already miss these women dearly and I cannot wait to see them again! Hasan and Lupe are two beautiful and happy babies that I spent a lot of time with and grew a lot of love for. They both have grown a crazy amount in the little time that I’ve been home and I am so sad that I am not there to witness it!

What is next?

Since our return, us Minerva Fellows are trying to spend a lot of time with family. Sadly, we cannot return to campus like we were supposed to so, we are making virtual presentations on our experiences to different Union courses and departments.

I am unsure on the type of content that I want to write about for my future blogs. I might catch ya’ll up on the last two months of my journey in Cambodia (since I got lazy and didn’t post) or I might continue catching ya’ll up on what I am doing now (not much and no where near as exciting)..

Stay tuned, stay safe and please practice social-distancing!

Until next time!


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1 Comment

  1. Hi Yesenia,
    You sound so down, I needed to comment and let you know how much I have loved your postings. i want to let you know that you are not alone. Karen and I have been to TGC several times over the years and always come home with heavy hearts. There is something very special about the kids, the staff and the people of Cambodia that fuses into one’s psyche. I can’t really describe it but as I read your posts I get that feeling. We have called it our “Cambodian head” for lack of a better descriptor. Know that we are all on the same page and savor the memories and take advantage of any opportunity you might have to get back for a visit. Meanwhile, keep in touch!! Chet


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