COVID-19 Oral Histories – Maria Nunez
For the past few weeks, Packer’s Upper School History Club has been working on an oral history project that documents the Packer community’s experience with COVID-19. Through 30 minute interviews with various people in the community, we have been recording people’s feelings, thoughts, and stories about this global pandemic. In addition to posting select parts of the interviews to the Prism website in both transcript and video form, we are also archiving these interviews at the Brooklyn Historical Society so that we can keep a visual and written record of these testimonies for the future generations. As for now, we hope this project is a way for people to stay connected and share their unique personal stories. Each week, new interviews will be posted, so keep coming back to learn more about your classmates’, teachers’, and colleagues’ experiences during this difficult and unusual time. We hope you enjoy!
– The Leaders of History Club: Sadie, Amelia, and Nick
Maria Nunez: Head of Packer’s Upper School
Interviewed by: Stella Lapidus
Q: What do you think the new normal will look like in your neighborhood, at Packer, and in New York?
A: Well, this is funny. I live right near Packer, um, and I think the longer we’re in the quarantine, like, the idea of normal in the beginning was like, go back to exactly how things were before, and then now that the longer we’re in this, I think what I’m willing to accept as normal has changed because I want to get out [says with a chuckle]. As we were walking this weekend, and, um, seeing people with mask and keeping distance, um, but we did a few more, like, errands and things that my husband and I would have done before, and I came back saying, you know, if this- I could get used to that. If this is the new normal for a while then that means that we have to wear masks and have to be careful, I’m ready to accept that in order to, um, to move forward, um… And to, and to, to get out of this moment of extreme isolation. […] And then it’s that part where we’re off thinking, you know you would read books about how things were, like, I don’t know, two-hundred years ago, or a hundred years ago, when there wasn’t self-service like you had to go into a store and say what you wanted, and someone would go from a shelf and get it for you, and when I did the shopping on Saturday, it was a bit like that. Like, you have to call ahead and the butcher where I went to, um, Wisk, which is like a cooking store on Atlantic Avenue, and you would just knock on the door and tell the person what you needed; Oh I broke my measuring cup, I need a glass measuring cup. And she would go and get it and then bring it back to the door, so that way that we shop, um, maybe very different for a while. It’s- and just not realizing how much I took for granted, because I know it’s easy if I just want to go, you know, shopping and go to the butcher, the pharmacy, and I would just go and this takes a lot more planning and time.
Q: How are you interacting with the Packer community during this time?
A: So, a lot of Zoom, uh [laughs]. I miss the Packer community! Um, so I, I’ve spent most of my day on Zoom, so, but they’re in like meetings with Administration or, um, there are a lot of parents, students, or whatever. Um, so it’s… so most of my job is about, um, either solving problems or bringing people together to make things happen, and then there’s a part that’s about thinking about where we want to go and thinking about how to get there. Um, and so the way that, um, I get my job done is through people, need to spend time with people, um, and then communicate with people. So everything that had been oral before now becomes email, so that takes a lot of time [laughs]. But the longer we stay, the fewer people who want to read email, so then it’s figuring out, you know, new ways to communicate. Um… so, uh, then, in order to feel connected, what I love to do is to watch, um, like, I’ll look at the Instagram or any videos that come out, just to see the faces, um, of everybody still in the community. […] Aw, I love [the Student Center Instagram]. I love the birthdays, and it’s fun, the uh, the uh, the, the baby pictures! There were some that were obvious and some that were so hard to figure out [says with a laugh]. Like, there’s no way that that’s that person!
See more of Ms. Nunez’s interview below: