• Millie Kirkland

Positivity and Persistence: My Student Experience with Rosaura


Rosaura and I have been exchanging WhatsApp audios and photos since late March. Over the past several months, we have bonded over our love of pasteles, the role our abuelos played in our lives, and the importance we both place on tradiciones familiares. I have seen beautiful dibujos drawn by her daughter Heidy, exchanged recetas from our different cultures, and shared our sueños for the future.


"I always tell her how lucky her daughters are to have a mother like her: an inspiring, strong woman who serves as a role model."

While our conversations had always started by talking about the impact of la coronavirus in our communities, this week was different. As restrictions begin to ease in New York, the situation in Guatemala grows increasingly dire. If I have learned anything about Rosaura in the last two months, it is the length she will go to protect her family. I can picture her beaming behind the phone as she speaks of her three daughters with pride, all of whom she loves deeply. A lesson never goes by without Rosaura sharing a story about her daughters – how they’re doing with their schoolwork, their love of dance, and their dreams for the future. I always tell her how lucky her daughters are to have a mother like her: an inspiring, strong woman who serves as a role model. She wants nothing more than for her daughters to succeed. In these dark times, I know that the health and happiness of her daughters is her first priority.


Rosaura explained to me that the Guatemalan government has mandated a plethora of restrictions. She has to get up early to go to the market to buy food, as Rosaura explains how citizens in Guatemala City can only go out during certain hours of the morning on just three days a week. The lines wrap around the crowded markets, posing for each shopper a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Without public transportation and the shut-down of many businesses, millions of Guatemalans are left unemployed. Families worry about what will happen, how the government will respond, and how they will take care of their loved ones.


Yet in the midst of such extreme uncertainty, Rosaura maintains a positive outlook. While Rosaura is scared of the future, she maintains tenacity and hope. She knows that the next few weeks will prove difficult, but she vows to maintain la fe and follow all the guidelines. She explained that while it is hard living with a big family in such a small home, she sees a silver lining. Rosaura is grateful that the pandemic has allowed her family to bond and spend quality time together. She has helped me appreciate this time, too. While finishing the semester at home was less than ideal, my conversations with Rosaura have made me treasure the little moments of joy I have shared with my parents.


"Until things change, I know that our conversations will continue to make me feel like I’m traveling thousands of miles from home with the click of a button."

Our conversation ended on a much lighter note: a quick game of would you rather. My favorite question was: ¿preferirías poder volar o leer la mente de otras personas? We both said that we would rather be able to fly – Rosaura wants to travel to Brazil and I want to go to Peru. Until things change, I know that our conversations will continue to make me feel like I’m traveling thousands of miles from home with the click of a button.

©2020 by Project Olas

Design by Kerry O'Donnell

Photography by Anna Hwatz