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Monday, Mar 4, 2024

Alexander Herrera in Ciudad de México, Mexico and New York, New York

Alexander Herrera

Former member of the class of 2022, who transferred out of Middlebury at the end of fall 2019

Locations: Ciudad de México, Mexico and New York, New York

Submitted March 26, 2020

March 8 was International Women's Day. Mexico is notorious for being the setting of various femicides a year. In response, women across Mexico City decided to pursue a "Dia Sin Mujeres/Day Without Women." Lots of shops across the city closed and vandalism was spread across different sites. This picture was taken in front of el Palacio de Bellas Artes.

I transferred out from Middlebury in December 2019, but instead of going back home to NYC, which is now deemed the "epicenter" of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, I moved to Houston, Texas. At this point, the virus was spreading in the U.S., but this had not affected my daily life. At the end of February, I then moved to Ciudad de Mexico, where I currently reside and work for an NGO that works with kids with cerebral palsy. I am set to stay in Mexico until the end of May.

While I am aware that New York and other parts of the U.S. are under quarantine, here in Mexico, the picture looks different. Honestly, the outbreak to us doesn't seem too serious given that it hasn't hit the country at an alarming rate (yet). As someone who lives in New York City, it feels unreal seeing my family and friends having to completely move out of their colleges, stay at home and stop all non-essential business. As someone who's currently taking a gap semester and living alone in another country, I have been experiencing the outbreak in the U.S. as an outsider. 

Most people, including myself, are going about our daily lives as usual. While there has been a spike in cases of coronavirus in Mexico, very few people here are actually alarmed. There are people who wear face masks outside given that CDMX is such a densely-populated city, but other than that, not much has changed. At the NGO I'm currently working with, the administration has discussed the possibility of pursuing distance learning for our students given that their disabilities make them susceptible populations to the virus. In the case that this were to happen, I would probably have to move back home. I have taken a total of five flights so far this year and I still have two more trips planned for the upcoming months. But as of right now, I don't plan to postpone or cancel any of my upcoming trips.

What has been your greatest worry or day-to-day concern as coronavirus has spread?

I would say that my greatest worry has been my family, especially because they are under quarantine and are living day-to-day the crisis and alarm that the virus has created in our city.

What has made you happy over the past few weeks?

I'm very much happy with my decision to no longer attend Middlebury. Besides traveling, I have really enjoyed getting to know Mexico and working with so many students in the past two months.

Update as of April 20, 2020:

A couple of days after submitting this to The Campus, the NGO I was working with announced that it was transitioning to a virtual platform for the rest of the academic year. At the same time, on March 23, Mexico City announced the National Campaign of Healthy Distancing, a national program of non-pharmaceutical measures based on social distancing. That same day, Mexico entered Phase 2 of the coronavirus outbreak, according to WHO, and non-essential businesses were ordered to close.

Currently, there are over 8,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the country. Due to the outbreak in CDMX, I made the hard decision to leave Mexico and go back to New York. I've been in the U.S. for a couple of weeks now, doing my best to follow stay-at-home orders and social distancing rules.