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Carolina Briones

Carolina Briones

On April 14, 2020, I had the opportunity to speak via Zoom to Carolina Briones, an Ecuadorian immigrant who lives in Providence, to discuss how she has been affected by the current Coronavirus outbreak. It was no surprise when she told me that she has been quite anxious.

Carolina was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and migrated to the United States in the early 1990s. For the past 20 years, she has been working at the Providence Community Library, offering bilingual programs for the Spanish-speaking community in Providence.

The current pandemic has impacted individuals in every country, but Carolina feels it has been particularly hard on Latinos due to their tendencies to show a lot of physical affection towards one another: “A los latinos nos gusta abrazarnos, darnos besito en la mejilla cuando nos vemos.”

Social distancing has been especially tough for Carolina because she is not used to being alone. Carolina is someone who loves to be around family and friends, but during this time she has not been able to even get together with her own daughters. Carolina is someone who is in the “at-risk” category of people encouraged to take extra care, so her daughters have been offering her a lot of support, dropping off groceries on her front steps. Not being able to physically spend time with them has especially taken a toll on her.

She worries often about her parents: Her father is in his late 80s and remains in Guayaquil and her mother has been in the hospital with pneumonia in Orlando, Florida for over three months. Carolina laments not being able to visit either of them, and she maintains constant contact with family members via telephone and Zoom.

Adding to her feelings of anxiety, Carolina says it’s even more difficult for her because she still has family and many good friends back in Guayaquil. This is one of the most affected cities in Latin America due to its overpopulation and extreme cases of poverty. She worries about the people in her home country because she feels they do not have the same opportunities that are offered here in the United States.

Carolina is determined to help her home country through this pandemic by way of her leadership role in La Asocación Ecuatoriana de Rhode Island (Ecuadorian Association of Rhode Island). Being the president of this organization, Carolina is making plans to help the community of Guayaquil by raising and sending money and collecting other resources that might be needed during these tough times.

Although this pandemic has been hard on everyone, Carolina remains optimistic about the future and takes this situation as a lesson learned: “Esto nos va a dejar una lección de vida a la humanidad completa.”

Once this is over, Carolina believes that there will be many changes in how we prepare for the future. She hopes that our government will be better equipped to help its citizens, that Latinos will begin to hold more economic savings, and families will learn to truly value one another.

Original interview conducted in Spanish

Interview by Nelly De Arcos
Brown University, Class of 2022

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