Migrant students chronicle learning, living in pandemic

Angel Ortega, a student at Ontario Middle School, takes a selfie on a trip to the ocean. (Submitted photo)

Since October, about a dozen students in Ontario Middle School’s Migrant Education Program have been meeting after school once a week to work on community service projects.

The students, participating in the Oregon Migrant Leadership Institute Club, write about their experiences and publish their work in a bilingual parent newsletter each month.

With schools closed, we asked the students to share a bit about their experience with readers of the Enterprise. We asked: What’s one positive thing that’s come out of the pandemic? How has your life changed? What are you most looking forward to?

Here’s what some of them had to say in their journal entries:

Jessy Juarez:

My life has changed in so many ways since school has closed. I have to teach my little brother who is in second grade how to do his homework and still make time for my schoolwork. It’s not always easy teaching my little brother when he won’t cooperate because we’re not physically trained like a teacher. We still manage to teach him the best we can.

On the other hand, though, I am able to make my own schedule for the day and manage to finish everything that needs to be done. After the pandemic I plan to hang out with my friends and go shopping. I miss my friends so much, especially after not seeing them for so long already.

Shopping is one of the things I miss too because it’s always so fun and after stores open I just don’t think it will feel the same because of the safety procedures. Overall though, the safety of others and me is the most important thing right now.

Ogaly Santiago:

One positive thing that has come out of this pandemic is that I have more time to practice playing the piano.

During this time, I was able to get an instrument called the melodica. It’s like a small keyboard with 37 keys that makes sound by blowing air into it. I learned how to cook more food than before.

Something that I really want to do after the pandemic is go to a restaurant with my family and enjoy some good food. I also want to go back to school. Staying home is no fun, but I try my best to keep myself entertained.

Henry Solis-Velazquez:

One positive thing right now is I go outside more often. To be honest the only thing giving me hope right now is [my cousin] Brayan making me do homework. What keeps me sane is going outside and going places.

The only fear I have right now is not having as many electives for Ontario High School because I don’t do my homework. Yes, I have been given advice and I have been told of the consequences of not doing my work.

I know when someone tells me “do your work” it means I need to do my work. My life has become more stressful because of online school. What I plan to do after this is all over is go out with my friends to the China Buffet and have a good time.

Angel Ortega:

One positive thing that has happened over the pandemic is that I got to see the ocean with some of my relatives and family. During our trip to the ocean in Northern California we saw a lot of beautiful places.

Although the trip was long and tiring, we made it and saw a beautiful ocean view. We also had to hike a lot, that’s why it was tiring. That was one thing positive that happened during this pandemic.

The pandemic has given Ontario Middle School student Jenny Juarez more time to practice the piano. (Submitted photo)

Jenny Juarez:

One positive thing that has come out of this pandemic is that I had more time to be with my family. They had helped me out during this time to look forward to my grades and school work and I appreciate it very much.

During this time, I have also been practicing my guitar and piano. For my guitar, It wasn’t easy for me because I never had time to practice it. Now at this point, I have more time to practice. For my piano, I have learned two new songs that I can’t stop playing because I just love their sound.

Overall, I hope everything turns out better and hope we can go back to school.

Brayan Velazquez:

One positive thing about this pandemic is that I can go outside with some friends. Sometimes I fear that I will get sick or my family will get sick, but I know that my parents will keep us safe.

Since school has closed my life has been more stressful because of the homework I have to do. Now that online school is ending soon, I have to do all the homework that I haven’t done. One thing that I plan to do after the pandemic is go out to eat with my friends.

Daniel Corona:

One positive thing that this pandemic has brought is that I am closer to my family. Something that has given me hope is that when this is all over, I am finally going to be able to go outside.

I don’t have any anxiety or fear because I know that it will end soon. This pandemic has made me just stay inside and it is so boring. The only fun thing is when I go to work because I can get out.

My day in this pandemic is just helping clean inside the house and watching tv and stuff like that. Sometimes I just want to sleep all day but I can’t. Something I plan to do after this pandemic is to do better in school. Another thing is to keep working so I can have the money to do the things I want.

This pandemic has its ups and downs but I do hope this ends fast.

Itzel Hernandez has used the extra time to play with her dogs Oreo and Romeo. (Submitted photo)

Itzel Hernandez:

Although there are many negative things happening during this coronavirus pandemic, there are also positives. For example, I get to spend much more time with my dogs, I can do work at my own pace, and I can sleep any day I want to.

Since there is not much to do, it has made me appreciate the activities I did before the pandemic. For instance, I am looking forward to being able to play soccer, hanging out with my friends, and going to restaurants again.

Malheur Enterprise reporter Yadira Lopez helped mentor these students as her service project for her Report for America fellowship.


SUBSCRIBE – $5 a month, automatically.

DONATE – to provide additional support. You can also mail a check: Malheur Enterprise, PO Box 310 Vale OR 97918. Donor identities are confidential unless the donor specifies otherwise. Thank you!