Student Forums
A journal of social practice & professional engagement for the Antioch community

New Skills and Meaningful Service During a Pandemic: Zuniga ’22 in Los Angeles, California

My day-to-day during the Covid-19 pandemic has been one to remember. It’s October and things haven’t changed much since March for everybody’s day-to-day lives. Luckily, I was able to find something that made me feel personally fulfilled while learning something new. I’ve been employed by a couple of different private contractors and I’ve always had fun doing this sort of thing. Helping see a shed or a hydroponic system or a greenhouse come together has always been a fun way to spend my time. The jobs always came to me for one reason or another, I knew someone or someone knew me.

Recently, I’ve been expanding some of those skills on a co-op in Los Angeles, my hometown. Working with a seasoned contractor like my current employer has been quite the learning experience. I think it’s because Dave, my employer, has some perfectionist tendencies which has meant that I’m able to learn in greater detail. He cares so much about how the job is done that it forces me to make sure the job really is done right.

A lot of the work is precise and requires patience. For instance, laying mosaic tile over a wall in a pool can actually be quite the tedious task. Especially to get them all level. As well as the prep to get there. So, every little mistake counts and one must be extremely gentle and intentional making sure everything’s straight before everything dries. Everything is measured three times before you cut. Things like that. The kind of care and attention that is required to make these things has taught me a lot about what it takes to build anything, and the level of focus that is necessary. The reason I say this is because there are times where you can’t afford to be distracted because the mistake can cost you. Luckily, I’ve been fine. This said, I work with materials that are meant to make something last for a significant amount of time, like concrete, thin-set, sealer, stain, various adhesives, epoxy grout. These are all things that you don’t want to get all over the customer’s property because it’s hard to correct those mistakes. So, not a lot of time for day-dreaming.

After a couple of delays related to the California fires as well as other complications, we just finished building some trellises for a customer and now we’re gonna make a private salon for an upcoming business owner. I can’t wait to see what this is going to look like. I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and I think the skills and lessons I learn here will definitely be a part of my experience at Antioch in the future. I feel like getting my feet wet with different contracting jobs can be helpful with a goal of mine to build an instrument and design some sort of acoustically sensitive space for recording and practicing. I feel like I’m learning things that I could definitely use in the future, even beyond Antioch, in one way or another. 

I also have some music in the works. I hope to come out with at least a single by the end of the year. I’ll have to get in touch with a couple friends who have some recording equipment, but I think I can manage even if I use really terrible mics for recording (like the one on your phone). The goal for me is to lay some music down that I feel good about. I’ll have to make sure that I stick to a style of music that can sound good with whatever recording equipment and mixing software I end up using. My thing is, I’m a self-proclaimed musician who has never really recorded anything seriously. And since I decided to take a musical direction at Antioch, I think this will definitely be the start to something that I’ve always wanted to do. I think recording and mixing your own music is another level to music that I’m very excited to start and develop at Antioch. 

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to spend some time with my family whom I haven’t been able to see in quite some time. I spent time in Colorado for a year before I went to Antioch and haven’t seen them much since. I’ve stepped in as a part-time caregiver for my grandmother since I’ve been back, and I feel like it’s been time well spent with her. I help with her meals and other regular needs. She has onset dementia that seems to be getting worse but she still has good advice to give. We’ve been making sure we take every measure to be sure she’s safe from the virus. Luckily, everything’s has been okay because everyone has been wearing their masks. I feel like my grandmother has taught me a lot about the aging mind. This has reminded me of my long interest in psychology and neuroscience as well as the strength I find in the giving of service to others. I’ve also been helping my grandmother’s dog walk again, as well as monitor and feed him. We just got him a doggie wheelchair because he couldn’t use his hind legs anymore. He actually seems happier with it and it’s really nice to see such a difference in attitude with him.

I can feel this chapter of my life can be called “love service” or something. I appreciate the sense of fulfillment I feel as I continue being of some help to my family while I’m here during this pandemic. The time I spend making sure my family has everything they need and the gratitude my grandmother has shown, specifically, is always so amazing to feel. I can feel a lot of healing occur in my own heart as I rekindle the relationships I have with my family. I’m reconnecting with them in meaningful ways that will give me a better sense of family connection in the future, which I felt I had not had in a long time.



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