By Brennen McWright, staff writer
During the 2019-2020 school year, sophomore Andres Sanchez Mayo attended Saegertown as an exchange student from Madrid, Spain through EF Exchange. According to Nova Dinsmore, the local international exchange coordinator, Sanchez Mayo was notified on March 20 that he would be returning to Spain on March 27 due to the global coronavirus pandemic. “The decision for him to return was made because we weren’t sure how long he might have to stay in the US,” Dinsmore said. “And we didn’t want him to be unable to return to Spain if they completely closed their borders.”
Sanchez Mayo is now completing his Saegertown school work from his home in Madrid to receive credit for the year. With about 62,000 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Madrid, there are more quarantine restrictions in place than we have in Saegertown. “When I got to Spain, there were restrictions that didn’t let my family come pick me up,” Sanchez Mayo said. “Just my father came.”
Another restriction prohibits going out into public unless absolutely necessary. “The situation is extremely weird,” Sanchez Mayo said, “No one is able to go out onto the streets unless you need to walk the dog or buy some groceries.” Because of the stringent rules, a neighbor is walking Sanchez Mayo’s dog for the family just so he can go outside. “People are only able to go out in special cases.”
According to Sanchez Mayo, people in Madrid are getting nervous. They’ve been living in tough conditions, but they still remember to honor those who are serving in the fight against this pandemic. “Every day at 8 p.m., we go out to our balconies and start clapping to the doctors, nurses, the police, and the people who keep working so that we have basic needs met,” Sanchez Mayo said.
One of these basic needs is education, which has also been affected by the pandemic. It’s difficult for Sanchez Mayo to stay on top of his schoolwork because he no longer has his notes, which remain at Saegertown High School. The time change from Eastern Time to Central European Time has also been difficult because he can’t communicate with teachers during most parts of the day. “The teachers are being very understanding with me, and they are trying to help me with everything,” Sanchez Mayo said.
The time zone switch affects more than Sanchez Mayo’s education. The six-hour time difference between the two countries creates other issues: “I’m trying not to lose contact with my friends (from Saegertown),” Sanchez Mayo said. He added that it’s also hard to communicate with his friends because Snapchat is not very popular in Spain.
Overall, schoolwork and quarantine in general differ from place to place. Changes have been made to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. “I hope that we will all be back to normal soon,” Sanchez Mayo said. “When all this is over, I look forward to seeing my friends that I haven’t seen for seven months, and my family…especially my grandma.”
He also wanted to relate the following message to the Saegertown community: “I just want to say thank you for how everyone treated me this year, and for letting me have this amazing experience. I’m sad it’s over, but I’ll always remember Saegertown, and I will always be thankful to everyone there.”
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Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School