In this episode of the COVID-18 podcast, VoiceWaves reporter Yesenia Pacheco speaks with local youth Nereida Nieto about her experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nieto speaks on how she’s relaxed and formed deeper relationships during the pandemic, as well as how her school schedule has changed and how the virus impacted her family.
COVID-18 is a podcast exploring young people’s experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. This season, episodes of COVID-18 are released every Friday. Find them on all podcast platforms. And catch Yesenia Pacheco’s previous episode from season two of COVID-18 here: “COVID-18 PODCAST: A young man’s experience with protests and safety precautions in Long Beach.”
A transcript of this episode is available below.
Rachel Livinal: This is Rachel Livinal. As previously mentioned, this season we’re going to be diving into other cities all around the state of California, hearing young people’s stories on all topics concerning the pandemic. Today we travel back to Long Beach, as Yesenia Pacheco reports a story about a high schooler’s experience during COVID and what the future has planned. From yli’s office, VoiceWaves. You’re listening to COVID-18, a podcast that explores young people’s experiences during the pandemic.
Yesenia Pacheco: How many classes are you taking this semester?
Nereida Nieto: Uhm, eight.
Yesenia Pacheco: Wow, jeez. [pause]
Yesenia Pacheco: Nereida Nieto is a high school senior who is used to having a lot on her plate, especially [during] her life pre-COVID.
Nereida Nieto: Pre-COVID I, I feel like I was like really busy. I kind of had like a, like, go, go, go, schedule. It was kind of like I would go to school and then during lunch I would have meetings during snack[time] I would have meetings or when I didn’t I would just be with my friends like in the quad. Our school has like a little hangout area. But also like during clubs like my friends would be in the clubs with me so it was kind of like, I was always like, on the go, after school, I would say for volleyball practice and that was what kind of kept me active. Every year was different because some years I did other sports and other years I just did volleyball. So, yeah, then, after school, I would, I would usually not come home, I would go to work. And then from work I would go to another meeting. Most of the time I would probably get home like around seven. And then I would start like my own thing. So I would like, have dinner or do homework, or just kind of watch TV, you know, play around.
Yesenia Pacheco: Her busy lifestyle came to a halt during the initial quarantine, which left with so well needed rest from our hectic day-to-day.
Nereida Nieto: After like a month of being home some people would tell me, oh like your face that’s more lifted. I really honestly didn’t sleep just because I had such a, like, busy schedule, so I couldn’t really find time to sleep. But now since I have so much time, I sleep more sometimes.
Yesenia Pacheco: But working and learning from home, as we all know by now, comes with its own set of unique complications.
Nereida Nieto: I’m like distracted with something else. Since I’m in my room and around my family it’s kind of like, oh, like they come into your room, they just ask you questions or something and you kind of like get distracted.
Yesenia Pacheco: Many students who live in bigger households struggle to find time to study and focus on their classes due to their busy and sometimes noisy environment. Nereida’s home is no exception.
Nereida Nieto: My cousin, he’s kind of like my brother. But he does college classes. We have like our own separate room so it’s kind of, it’s not that hard. And then I have another brother living with me. My parents. My aunt. So it’s like during the day, depends on like because they have different schedules so sometimes they’re home sometimes they’re not, or days off. And sometimes it’s kind of like annoying, but yeah. It hasn’t been that hard just because I don’t have a lot of like younger siblings. So that’s kind of been like the easiest part.
Yesenia Pacheco: While the family schedules intertwined, Nereida’s mom started showing symptoms of COVID-19. And so she went and got herself tested.
Nereida Nieto: And then the test results came back and she tested positive. So then she was sleeping in the garage. Our garage is like, fixed, it has like a bathroom and bedroom and everything. So she just moved back there, and she stayed there for about a month cause it hit her really hard. Because I know like some people don’t really get it that hard, but I think just because of her age, it affected her.
Yesenia Pacheco: I’m really sorry to hear that. Is she better now?
Nereida Nieto: No yeah she, um, she’s good now. But like it does leave some side effects. Like she had hair loss, even after. And for a couple months after like she couldn’t taste that well.
Yesenia Pacheco: After a year of being an educational limbo, Nereida is tired of Zoom.
Nereida Nieto: Yesterday, it was like our one year mark of last day of regular school or whatever. Then we went on to like online school it was kind of, we didn’t go straight into like Zoom meetings every day. We kind of went into like, “oh, I’ll assign Google classroom assignments and you’ll just do them and then, yeah, that’s it. You’ll get your grade.” But then senior year started off, and we kind of like have to do Zoom classes like every day or every period and honestly I like to the other way better. It was more like, I could do it on my own time, because I’m more of a night person. So I like to do work at night instead of like waking up really early to go to class.
Yesenia Pacheco: For her, the future of in person learning is unclear.
Nereida Nieto: Just me thinking about going to in-person learning it’s kind of weird just because I’m so adjusted to online. And it’s obviously, it’s more comfortable, just because I get to stay home, but I’d much rather have in person
Yesenia Pacheco: Nererida describes what being back on campus might be like for her.
Nereida Nieto: And for lunch like if you just get to go to the cafeteria, and you have to go back to the classroom to sit, six feet away from everybody so it’s kind of like, there’s no point because I think… The reason why we all want to go back is just like seeing people and interacting with people, but they don’t really like letting us do that.
Yesenia Pacheco: One thing she has been enjoying recently is being able to spend some quality time with her friends.
Nereida Nieto: Honestly, I hang out with two friends on the most, and I’ve just been able to spend more like quality time with them and with my family, instead of having like a larger group. And it’s kind of been better
Yesenia Pacheco: And in doing that, she’s been able to form a deeper connection, not only with her friends, but with herself.
Nereida Nieto: I don’t think I’m the same person I was a year ago. I feel like, also just because of age I’ve matured more. But I kind of just realized like, what’s more important. And like, who’s really going to be there for you when things get tough, and it really comes down to a couple people.
Yesenia Pacheco: Although she’s had a tough year, Nereida keeps a positive attitude, and encourages others to do the same.
Nereida Nieto: I would just say like, focus on yourself all the time. And even though like we can’t go out right now as much as we would like to, I think that’s definitely what keeps us more alive, but just going to the beach or going on blogs, just places that you can kind of just sit around or like start reading, listening to podcasts like this one, or just watching movies with your friends. Just make sure to stay safe, obviously. And yeah, just try to keep yourself lifted up. I know it’s hard and we’re all like going through it, obviously. But I think, definitely, I see like a brighter future.
Yesenia Pacheco: This is Yesenia Pacheco signing off from VoiceWaves, located in Long Beach, California.
Rachel Livinal: Next week Fresno takes the stage again. As Ishan Singh, talks about the future of leadership rooted in youth. This is a production of VoiceWaves Long Beach, and Youth Leadership Institute. I’m your host, Rachel Livinal.