COVID-19 |

Stories from The Pandemic | 2020

José Mendoza

Jose Mendoza Zoom photo

José Mendoza, the eldest child of Mexican immigrants, was raised in East Greenwich and today lives in the West End of Providence. He is the financial coordinator for the Brown University Department of Hispanic and French Studies, and along with everyone at Brown, was forced to work from home when the University quickly closed due to COVID-19.

Like many of us, José’s daily life is normally filled with structure, but all that has been upended by the quarantine. He laments losing track of the days, and laughs when he admits that he sometimes sits around all day without changing his clothes!

He especially misses his weekly visits home to see his parents. Since the quarantine, he’s only seen them once, when he made a quick visit to their home to let them know he’s fine, and to check on them – and then he took special care to wear a mask, gloves and kept careful distance from them.

But mostly, José misses spending intimate time with them: “Lo más que quiero es sentarme con mi familia a comer una comida, y estar con ellos un rato y hablar,” he says.

He adds that he is very grateful for his health, and feels fortunate to have the opportunity to maintain his job while working from home because many others do not have the option: “Estoy muy agradecido de que todavía tengo mi trabajo. Puedo trabajar desde mi casa, pero sé que mucha gente está sufriendo económicamente.”

He also misses his two younger siblings, both currently university students, who are both dealing with the difficulties of the rapid and sudden switch to remote learning.

José has been able to stay connected to his local friend group, with whom he has a weekly trivia night on Zoom; the winner every week gets to choose a nonprofit organization or charity to receive a pot of funds.

He feels Providence has a lot to offer and normally enjoys the food scene, trying different restaurants and bars with his friends. But the pandemic has shut everything down, which he worries about because it will be difficult for many of them to bounce back. His uncle owns the popular Mexican restaurant Chilangos and he knows first-hand how the pandemic has affected these family businesses. He notes how lucky he feels to have a well-stocked bodega in his neighborhood, where he makes sure to shop and support a local business, rather than the larger food chains.

José has been able to maintain a positive outlook and has enjoyed cooking simple dishes, which include some Caribbean favorites, like tostones (fried plantains). “Me gusta cocinar arroz al horno que se puede preparar muy similarmente [cómo la paella] con verduras, con chorizo. He estado haciendo eso porque es fácil, es barato de preparer.” While he enjoys cooking, he does look forward to getting back to normal, visiting restaurants and being out with people once again.

Original interview conducted in Spanish

Interview by Joe Hinton
Brown University, Class of 2020


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