Unmasked: Personal stories of living during a pandemic

Eresay Alcantar, Staff

As the 1920s began with a roar, many were excited to see how the 2020s would begin. However, no one could have predicted the world would have to face a pandemic at the beginning of the year. All lives have been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as it still occurs. There are many stories to be told and this story will focus on Mikkel Braz Costa, an international exchange student from Brazil, who came to GCCC for the opportunity to continue his academic and athletic career.


“I was feeling uncomfortable with my situation and everything that was happening around me,” said Braz Costa thinking back when he first heard campus would be shut down due to the virus. “It all happened very fast and I didn’t have time to think.”


Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, gccc student and soccer player, Mikkel Braz Costa had plans to further his education and soccer career. “My plans before the pandemic were to study hard, improve my English, and improve myself as a soccer player…hoping that a new opportunity would arise…”


Braz Costa is originally from a small town, San Pablo, Brazil. Being no stranger to the struggles of life, Braz Costa is accustomed to fighting for his dreams. “Back home, as a kid, I had the responsibility to follow my dream,” mentioned Braz Costa. “I’ve always been struggling with my dreams…it’s like a big challenge, but I’m willing to push myself.”


Moving to the United States in hopes of a better future, like many, Braz Costa had no idea just how much everything would change in a matter of weeks.


A majority of students had to go back home due to the severity of the virus and finish school online. Yet, for Braz Costa, it wasn’t so easy to just go back home, as he was alone in the states. “I was scared because I’m here by myself…my family is in Brazil and this was difficult for me.” With no one around to count on for support, Braz Costa knew he had to think fast. Luckily, Braz Costa had a friend down in Florida and with their help, he was able to stay with them. “It was my last day (in Garden City), and all of a sudden the next day I was in Florida.”


Braz Costa worked, practiced, and continued to study while in Florida. “I practiced because it’s the main reason I’m here (GCCC), everything I did, and I do now is part of my dream.”


With a new school year in place, and COVID-19 still being a threat to all, it was recently announced that the athletic teams may no longer practice. “When I found out, I felt really sad…I came here to practice soccer and create a new chapter through GCCC soccer, but it’s fallen because of the pandemic.” Braz Costa said.


Although feeling down, Braz Costa is hopeful and continues to follow his dream. “It is what it is, we just gotta take care of ourselves and wait it out. I hope to be back on the field with my teammates practicing and competing…”