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Reflecting Back On A Year Unlike Any Other In Eugene

Top two photos: Melorie Begay | Bottom three: Zoom


This year has been unlike any other year in recent history. Full of challenges, grief and hard truths. As we head into 2021, KLCC’s Melorie Begay checked in with a few people around Eugene and asked them about their year.


As 2020 comes to a close I wanted to know two things. How are people going to remember this year, and what’s worth considering as we head into a new, hopefully better, year.

Anna Grace, South Eugene High School Teacher

“This is going to be the year that things got quieter, yeah, it’s also going to be the year that we’ve had to wrestle with hard things, I think for a long time as a society we have let system racism be, exist right, and I think this is the year that everyone had to step back and say this cannot continue and if we’re not working to change it than we are part of the problem. It’s going to be different. I’m not going to go back to what we were doing. Things are going to look different in my classroom. I have learned to do this more efficiently, I’ve learned to be more flexible with individual students and that is going to continue on no matter what, in terms of just my own life I’m not going run at such a frenetic pace.”

Sage Janos, Nurse Manager of Eight Medical, Peace Health Riverbend

“My name is Sage Janos, I’m the manager of Eight Medical which is the medical unit at Peace Health Riverbend. My unit was designated as the COVID unit for patients that are stable. This past couple of years have been my first few years in leadership. So developing my own personal leadership style during a time when everything is so upside down from the status quo has been extremely challenging. I think that I’ve been luckier than a lot of people. There’s a lot of people right now that are losing their businesses, losing their jobs, losing their homes, and just because I’ve had to be on the forefront of a unit that’s part of the solution to COVID, that’s privilege you know? So I’ve definitely, I’m human I’ve had my moments of oh my God why am I here? Why am I even doing this? That’s normal so I think to recognize that and be able to still come back to center and come back to realization that you’re lucky for the way that your experience hasn’t been as bad as it could have been in 2020.”

Priscilla Oxley, Holiday Farm Fire Survivor

“It’s been dismaying too much between the COVID and all that and the fire. I hope to never see another one like this again. I’ve certainly never seen one like this in the past. I don’t know I’m just planning for the future, that’s all, working towards being able to rebuild and to be back home on the river and to be able to get our library open again and to get our clinic up and running properly again. I hope for better than normal, I really do. It’s really just a step at a time. You have to have a goal but it’s so easy to get impatient."

 Ibrahim Coulibaly, Eugene-Springfield NAACP President

 “There’s no question that 2020 has been challenging, social, political, economical, our own mental health. But look at the thing that happened while we were going through those things? What have you seen as a positive? What have you witnessed that has given you faith? Out of all those challenges we have gained something. Allies in the civil rights movement, tremendous progress in science for COVID-19, being  able to come up with a vaccine in a short period of time we have gained attention for wildfire toward climate change. That’s what gives me faith and I think that’s where people should focus because we are getting there. The trauma, the healing process will take the entire community. So where do we go from there? We have to focus on the future we have to learn from what happened in 2020 but we cannot get stuck in 2020. We have to keep moving.

"Ruhi Sophia Motzkin Rubenstein, Rabbi of Temple Beth Israel"

My rabbinate this year has certainly been a crisis rabbinate which is to say it has been about responding about consistently new emergent needs in the community. One of my spiritual practices has been to try to think expansively about what the future looks like, so not just the longing for before but thinking about how do we want the world to look and what is our place, what is the place that I have to offer and it’s not going to be everything. What is our place in building this community this collective that we want to be going forward, and I would suggest people really spend some time meditating on that question not constricted by the realities of life before pandemic or the realities of life during pandemic because I think one very profound lesson that pandemic has taught us is that our lives can shift very quickly and we can and will adapt to that when necessary and we adapt to what we understand that we need to adapt to when we decide we need to do something we do it so let’s ask ourselves expansively what needs to be done?”

Copyright 2020 KLCC


Melorie Begay is a multimedia journalist for KLCC News. She was the Inaugural KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She has a bachelors in Multimedia Journalism from the University of New Mexico. She previously interned at KUNM public radio in Albuquerque, NM and served as a fellow for the online news publication New Mexico In Depth.