Editor’s Note: The Source is pleased to publish the winning essays of the Charlotte Amalie High School students who competed in the Alpine Essay Contest, offering their perspectives on living through a pandemic, and their hopes for the future as we prepare to enter a new year. The following essay by 12th-grader Carlos Morales Portalitin is the third of four we’ll present in the coming days.
Today is Oct. 11, 2021, exactly one year and seven months since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Since its declaration, COVID-19 has killed over 4.5 million people worldwide, 73 being from the USVI, making it the deadliest disaster I have faced thus far in my life. Although the pandemic has negatively affected everyone all over the world, I have come to appreciate the minor values it has taught me about myself and my community such as to cherish life, the importance of community and the appreciation of culture.
The first value the pandemic has taught me is to cherish life as it is fragile, and one never knows when it will be their time to depart this world. As a result, all the hours I spent locked up in my room glued to an electronic screen, I now prefer to spend with my parents or little sister. During these times we conversate, joke around, eat dinner, and watch movies, all of which have made my extensive time at home quite pleasant. In addition, it has also taught me the importance of eating healthy and exercising as being healthy is the only way to stand a chance against deadly diseases like COVID-19. This being the case, I now try my best to eat healthy meals every day that contains vegetables, grains, dairy, and proteins.
On top of that, the pandemic has also taught me about the importance of community in times of crisis because only through acting as a community can we aid each other in recovering from disasters. This is why I always greet people I walk past on street and try to be as friendly as possible. I do this to promote friendship and encourage others to become more approachable. Not to mention, to spread positivity. This pandemic has also taught me the importance of giving back, through volunteering. As a result, I make time whenever I can to do activities such as beach cleanups and fundraisers as well as tutoring.
Furthermore, the pandemic has also enlightened me on some of the positive cultural behaviors it has incited on the people of the Virgin Islands. For example, their newfound willingness to aid others, and their increased proficiency in the use of technology. Virgin islanders are now more willing to help others as now doing things such as, getting one’s license and filing documents seems to take a lot less time, since people are not asking for more information than required. In addition, people’s proficiency in the use of technology has increased quite substantially because not only are online teachings going much smoother than they were last year, but more people are learning to use different social media to stay connected with family and friends. Consequently, the Virgin Islands culture has advanced not only technologically, but cooperatively as well.
To sum things up, the pandemic has taught me to value life for it is a fragile thing, to build deeper connections within my community, and recognize the few yet visible effects it has had on our culture.
— Carlos Morales Portalitin is in the 12th grade at Charlotte Amalie High School. His teacher is Ms. Simeon.