In early March the Ivory Coast saw its first cases and even though there were less than 100 cases the government choose to close schools on March 16th. This has now been extended to May 17th. March 12th was the last day I saw students and I miss them. I am sad that I didn’t get to say goodbye to them in person and that our seniors will not have a graduation ceremony and all the fun things we had planned for them. I am one of the few who decided to pay for an overly expensive evacuation flight to come back to the States despite having a decent apartment in Abidjan. The truth is it’s complicated and most people won’t understand but I know that it was the best decision for me. My friend Kim who has been extremely generous agreed to let me come stay with her which made my decision easier. When I arrived in Maryland it was already on lock down and so after my 14 day self quarantine there has not been much I can really do.
While it has been a blessing to be here in Maryland, closer to my family in Boston and having access to foods that I missed; working remotely has been a struggle sometimes frustrating and stressful. Because the Ivory Coast is 4 hours ahead of MD and school operates from 8 am to 3 pm, I am expected to be available to students during those hours. This means I am up by 4:30 am and logged into my computer corresponding with students through email, zoom and Google hangouts. The stress of not being able to reach students has been taxing. Often I send multiple emails before a student replies and sometimes they are resistant to video calls. For the next month I will continue to provide services to students online, hoping that it is enough to get them through the end of the school year as they continue to deal with being in quarantine and the side effects of not being on campus.
Here’s what I have learned in these past 7 weeks…
that while I am truly grateful that I can continue to work my job here in MD, I don’t like getting up so early. Remote work as a school counselor is so hard, I want to do more to help my students.
that while I like living alone and can be quiet for hours, I also like having someone around every day that I can talk to and have fun with
that even as an introvert I miss going out and doing things and being on a stay at home order is hard AF
that while I miss so many things about living in the US and DMV in particular, I don’t miss the weather and couldn’t come back to experiencing winter weather.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month so I will continue to be more intentional about my self care. I will take more breaks from my computer and social media, exercise more, stretch in the morning and at night, practice gratitude and mindfulness. Week 8 of remote working starts tomorrow and as I prepare for my upcoming summer vacation in early June I realize that I will have to be more creative in case outside does not reopen by July so that when the school year begins in August I am physically and emotionally ready.
#BlackExpat #Edpat #quarantinejourney #internationalcounselor #gratitude #selfcareisimportant