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17-Year-old reflects on life amid the covid-19 pandemic by Oscar Brito

This year has been an interesting and unfortunate year for the masses, but especially for students all around the world transitioning to online classes.

This transition has been particularly interesting for Obed Ocasta. He just turned 17 and this is his junior year of high school. This is also his first year living in a different home from the one he had been accustomed to the first 16 years of his life.

Even while navigating through a new home, a pandemic and this new journey of online school, Acosta has still found various ways to stay sane and productive.

Obed Acosta, 17, smiles outside his home in Laguna Hills, Calif., on Sept. 2, 2020. (Annenberg Media/Oscar Brito)

Although it initially took some adjusting to do, Acosta has started to get a better grasp on his new online learning experience.

“At first it was weird seeing all my classmates virtually on Zoom, but now in the third week I feel like it’s getting normal,” Acosta said. “While I am doing well in school, I hope this pandemic can end soon so I can actually see my friends in person again.”

Unfortunately Acosta has not been able to see his friends since March when schools were first closing down due to the pandemic. He has used the extra free time to zone in even more on school than ever before and has noticed results in doing so.

Obed Acosta, 17, attends his English class via Zoom while at his home in Laguna Hills, Calif., on Sept. 3, 2020. This is Obed's last class of the day! (Annenberg Media/Oscar Brito)

When he isn’t in a zoom class or doing homework, Obed loves to take care of his plants that he started collecting soon after the early stages of quarantine.

“It was back in April when we were all locked in doors, he came to my room and begged me to take him out to buy plants," said his sister, Ishea Acosta. "I could tell he was going a little crazy being indoors and desperately needed a new hobby.”

Acosta currently has three plants now and he plans on growing even more throughout the rest of his life.

Acosta's three prized plants on display at his home in Laguna Hills, Calif., on Sept. 3, 2020. (Annenberg Media/Oscar Brito)

While Obed can be very productive with his, he also knows when to settle down and relax. He enjoys playing the iPhone games "Brawl Stars" and "Clash of Clans" when he has free time.

“Video games can be really bad if you let them take over your life,” Acosta said. “I do a good job of managing my time that way I can play Brawl Stars or Clash of Clans with my friends.”

“I always tell him that as long as he keeps getting those A’s, he could spend the whole day on his phone playing those silly games,” said his mother, Veronica Acosta.

Obed Ocosta, 17, sits down and plays Brawl Stars while he waits for dinner at his home in Laguna Hills, Calif., on Sept. 3, 2020. Obed claims that he has been playing this game for the last four years. (Annenberg Media/Oscar Brito)

One thing that has been consistent in Acosta’s life, even after quarantine, is his ability to draw.

“His father was an artist at heart," said Mrs. Acosta. "He was the first person to show him how to draw and Obed hasn’t stopped learning new drawing techniques since.”

Acosta began drawing when he was just five years old and sees himself drawing for the rest of his life. Acosta also explained that he always finds time to draw no matter what is going on because he feels that drawing is a safe space for him.

"I was never into sports when I was young so this is what I would always do in my free time. Whenever I draw on my canvas it feels so good because I get to escape into my little world of art.”

Obed, 17, draws a portrait of his younger cousin, Isaac, on his balcony at his home in Laguna Hills, Calif., on Sept. 3, 2020. (Annenberg Media/Oscar Brito)
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Oscar Brito
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