Culture

Quinceañera’s Are Getting A Makeover In The Time Of Coronavirus And One Teen Is Celebrating The Change

Coronavirus has put the breaks on pretty much everyone’s plans.

I mean, Coachella was postponed. Even the 2020 Olympics, which were supposed to take place in Tokyo this summer, have been postponed. Major family plans like quinceañeras have largely been put on hold as well – for obvious reasons. A quinceañera is usually a large family affair. They’re usually packed with family and friends, sometimes even the whole neighborhood, a church service, and a photoshoot.

So it makes sense for families to have postponed these very special events, since social distancing is proving to be the only truly effective method at combating the spread of the virus. However, one family got creative and celebrated their daughter’s big day.

This San Antonio teen was able to celebrate her big day with friends and family in a safe and fun way.

Like so many teens, Xóchitl had spent months planning her quince with her mom, Kristie. It’s one of the biggest days in many Latina’s young lives.

“Every little Hispanic girl dreams about her quinceañera and her wedding. Those are your two big days in your life,” Rodriguez, 45, from San Antonio, told NBC News.

“Usually, there is a Mass where the priest blesses you as you get ready for your transition, from being a young girl to becoming a woman, which of course we couldn’t do,” Rodriguez said, emotionally, over the phone.

Xóchitl and her mom had already spent hours shopping for the perfect gown and hours more planning her quinceañera before stay-at-home orders hit her hometown of San Antonio. In fact, her family had already organized both a mass and a fun-filled reception.

Then the Coronavirus hit and the family had to get creative.

Credit: Jimmy Rodriguez

San Antonio, like the rest of the country, had to implement strict stay-at-home orders in order to combat the pandemic. This left the Rodriguez family struggling to figure out how to celebrate their daughter’s big day and continuing with the tradition – despite a global health crisis.

It took some creativity and work, but Rodriguez and her husband, Jimmy, surprised Xóchitl on April 21 with a low-key but unforgettable version of her big day: a drive-by quinceañera. Xochitl was able to share it with her closest family and friends – at a safe distance.

Still, there are aspects of the tradition that families miss.

“It was very different, because our culture is very much about physical affection — you know, the hugging, the kissing, the touching — and it was really hard to see them and not be able to touch them,” Rodriguez said, speaking of the relatives and friends who came to cheer Xóchitl on.

Her quinceañera has gone viral thanks to the family’s creativity and perseverance.

Credit: Jimmy Rodriguez

They managed to keep the idea from Xochitl until the big moment came.

“We had blown up the balloons the night before and had kept them in the garage and then kind of made the mad dash to decorate the yard when it was time for her to go outside,” Kristie said.

Then, the family went outside and greeted her socially-distanced guests in her dress and her tiara. Instead of damas and chambelanes, the family pulled out some of Rodriguez’s old dolls and teddy bears and used them for a makeshift honor court – while friends and family sang “Las Mañanitas” from their cars and from the sidewalk.

She says she was completely thrilled to see all of the people she loved making an effort, despite difficulties, to make her feel special.

“I kind of lost hope of having anyone over or having a normal birthday where I can see my family,” she told NBC Latino. “I feel like my mom and my dad really made it special, trying to get the people that were closest to me.”

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This Mexican Teacher Drives Two Whole Hours Out Of Her Way To Teach Kids With Special Needs In The Pandemic

Fierce

This Mexican Teacher Drives Two Whole Hours Out Of Her Way To Teach Kids With Special Needs In The Pandemic

Fiona Goodall / Getty

It is a truth nationally acknowledged that teachers in the United States are massively undervalued.

As educators, the teachers in our country often act as keepers of our children, the leaders of their knowledge as well as the ones who help instill them with moral values. What’s more, their presence provides parents with much-needed support, particularly in cases where children might have special needs. During the time of the COVID crisis, its no wonder that the effort of a Mexican teacher to step up and be present for her students in a way that goes beyond the description of her job, is gaining exceptional praise.

A teacher based out of Mexico is being praised as an ‘angel’ for turning her pickup truck into a classroom on wheels.

An elementary school teacher in Apaseo el Alto, Guanajuato, is literally going the extra mile to help her autistic students during the pandemic.

The teacher, identified only as Nay, is ensuring that her students don’t fall behind despite the fact that their school has been closed. To reach her students she drives two hours every day to meet those who do not have access to books or the internet to make sure they receive proper help with schoolwork.

During their in-person class session, Nay meets with her students in the back of her pickup truck. The entire time Nay and her students both wear masks and use hand sanitizer.

The teacher’s efforts recently went viral after one of her student’s mothers shared a photo of her work on Twitter.

In the photo posted to the mother’s Twitter page, Nay can be sitting in the back of a red pickup trick working with a student while wearing a mask.

“In Mexico, school was cancelled because of the pandemic. This teacher turned her pickup truck into a portable classroom,” Akki wrote on her Twitter page. “She drives two hours a day to teach children with autism who don’t have books or access to the internet.”

The tweet about the teacher has earned thousands of likes and retweets.

According to an interview with Quien, Nay says all teachers put in this much of an effort to provide their students with support.

Nay told Quien that she usually works at a school with students who have disabilities and is always working to improve as a teacher. On the day that the photo was taken Nay said she was evaluating her students “to really know how this pandemic was affecting [the students’] learning since they are the most vulnerable.” She was also curious to “know how they feel … because this has not been easy for anyone.”

In response to the image, Twitter users are calling Nay a “hero.”

“Due to restricted/repetitive behaviors of kids in the spectrum isn’t easy to modify teaching conditions to them so what this teacher is doing is extremely valuable, pure Love,” one user wrote in the comments of the tweet. “Autism is a complex developmental condition that involves many challenges, learning is only one of them”

“God bless this woman,” another commenter wrote. “Shout out to all those who go the extra mile to help those in need. This is exactly what humanity is all about, something we should all learn from one another.'”

“Teachers DESERVE TO BE PAID WAY MORE THAN THEY ARE PAID,” another user pointed out. “They spend more time with other people’s children than the children spend with their own families.”

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Farmworkers Are Testing Positive For Covid-19 At Record Numbers, So What Are Officials Doing To Help?

Things That Matter

Farmworkers Are Testing Positive For Covid-19 At Record Numbers, So What Are Officials Doing To Help?

Brent Stirton / Getty Images

Every day, California farmworkers worry that the pandemic plowing through agricultural hubs will catch them and kill them. They also worry that not working will kill them. Now, there is further evidence that their worries are grounded in reality.

A recent survey – the Covid-19 Farmworker Study (COFS) – points out the grim reality this vulnerable community faces as they work to support the nation’s ongoing need for food services.

California’s farmworker community – now considered essential – is being hit hard by the Coronavirus.

California’s agricultural communities have been hit the hardest by the Coronavirus pandemic. From Imperial County along the U.S.-Mexico border to Fresno County in the Central Valley, these counties are also home to large migrant communities who are considered ‘essential workers’ as they work California’s farms and ranches.

As new details emerge, a grim picture of the virus among farmworkers is emerging. The Covid-19 Farmworker Study (COFS) reinforces the dire warnings that farmworker advocacy organizations made when the coronavirus lockdowns began: The least protected essential workers in the country, toiling under environmental conditions like excessive heat, pollution and dust, are being devastated by the coronavirus, directly and indirectly. 

Now, five months into the pandemic, infection rates are spiking. Fresno County is experiencing 435 cases for every 100,000 residents; in Tulare it’s 472 and in Merced it’s 564. The statewide average: 269.

Though county figures say about 31% of overall cases are in the Latino community, some on the front lines estimate that up to 70% of cases from the recent spike have hit in that demographic, in a region where they account for about 42% of the population, according to census figures. Experts agree that official case counts across the state may be low because of testing problems.

And experts agree that fighting Covid-19 in the Central Valley could be an uphill battle. Many farmworkers live in crowded, dorm-like buildings. And thanks to a hostile government, many migrants are fearful of seeking any sort of medical or legal or financial help. Many of the people most at risk do not speak English and are traditionally hard for government to reach. Therefore, packing plants have emerged as coronavirus clusters in parts of the state.

The state is struggling to get a hold on the outbreak but officials have launched a new program they hope will have an impact.

The recent spike in infection rates within the Central Valley has drawn national attention, and now seems to have the attention of Gov. Gavin Newsom. His administration is dispatching three of his Coronavirus ‘strike teams’ to the region to help local officials track cases of Covid-19, inspect workplaces, quarantine the sick, and ramp up testing within vulnerable groups.

Each team, consisting of about a dozen experts on health, housing, public outreach, agriculture and other fields, will try to contain an alarming spread through the region. Much of their work will focus on the San Joaquin Valley, where agricultural fields and crowded food-processing plants have become fertile ground for the virus.

“If you asked me today what our biggest area of concern in a state as large as ours, it is indeed the Central Valley,” Newsom said recently in announcing the deployment. “We need to do more for our agricultural and farmworkers.”

In addition to the strike team, the state is allocating $52 million in federal money to help improve testing and contact tracing within the valley. It’s also spending $6 million in private donations to buy food and other basics for low-income Valley residents whose livelihoods have been threatened by the pandemic.

But for many farmworkers, despite the risk, they have little choice but to continue to work.

Credit: Brent Stirton / Getty Images

California’s farmworkers have long been one of the state’s most vulnerable communities. Now that the pandemic has ravaged the state’s economy, migrant farmworkers are considered ‘essential workers’ and are exempt from many of the protective lockdown orders, forcing them to risk their health while at work.

Meanwhile, the collapse of food service (restaurants and institutions) has le to the shutdown of farms across the state and roughly 20% of farm jobs have been cut – that amounts to nearly 100,000 workers. Those who are still working have largely seen their hours cut. So for many, they have little choice but to return to a dangerous job or risk juggling bills and going hungry.

On the job, however, workers lack control of their own safety. Fewer than half of those surveyed said they had received masks from their employers. Even among those who had, they had received them once or a couple of times. (Farmworkers generally wear face coverings to protect themselves from pesticide dust, dirt and the sun. More than 95 percent of those surveyed said they are masked in the fields.) 

Social distancing is still an idea, not a reality, for many of those surveyed. In some cases, farmworkers who asked for better protections, such as more distancing in the fields, or hand sanitizer, have faced retaliation. Crew bosses have punished them by cutting their hours or days, advocates said. 

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