COVID-19: Calmness through Chaos as a Community College student and essential worker

Three people line up in front of a whiteboard to take a photo: an elder Asian American man, an African American woman college instructor, and a young man with long hair.
Ryan Barba, his classmate Son Le and math instructor Tracy Camp at our class potluck in May 15th, 2019. Photo courtesy of Ryan Barba.

COVID-19 has caused great disruption to my daily life here in Oakland. I am a community college student and part time worker, who has responsibilities to various nonprofits throughout the Bay Area. Falling victim to the shelter-in-place order, I have been forced to adapt to a new lifestyle that restructured my daily routine and forms of communication. 

Not being able to physically attend school has been absolutely frustrating. Laney College is home to me and a place where my friends, instructors, and mentors are all in one place. Studying Chinese at home, doing physical geography assignments indoors and discussing the life of Frederick Douglass via Zoom is not the same as in a traditional classroom. Attending church service and a board meeting also share fall victim to the same experience. The only thing that hasn’t gone remotely is my form of employment.

I work part time at a privately owned authorized shipping center in the Dimond District that offers essential services. Since COVID-19 has taken over, I work more hours now than I did before due to a need of how to properly handle customers.

All patrons must stand six feet apart and are no longer able to do tasks that they normally would be able to do. It can easily quintuple the time of our services becoming a drag throughout the day. Although I wear a mask with a carbon filter, two layers of disposable gloves and a pair of safety glasses for protection, the fear of contracting the virus is always apparent. 

I am grateful to be back in school (remotely), to still be employed and to be able to still serve the public in the midst of this crisis. By God’s grace, everyone in my network is healthy, safe, and looking forward to being finished with this current way of life. A day without this chaos is a future that excites me. I will remain calm until this storm is over.

Author Profile

Ryan Barba is an Oakland native who is following his passion of writing. It has lead to his desire to further his knowledge and insight in this profession by learning and sharing with others. Ryan attended primary and secondary schools in Oakland and has ties to various community outreach programs throughout the East Bay. Having spent his life in Oakland, he looks forward to using this opportunity as a platform to tell stories that are occurring in his wonderful community.

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