Z is a food service worker in the cafeteria at Hahnemann Campus of UMass Memorial Healthcare system in Worcester, MA. Henry Del Rosario's primary care clinic is located at Hahnemann campus and he often sees her cheerfully preparing the food or weaving back and forth from the kitchen to the registers. Sometimes she is seen sitting behind the propped up chairs looking at photos of her family on her cell phone or laughing with coworkers on her break.
What is your role in terms of working here at Hahnemann?
I work on the register. I do pre-salad and sandwiches and I serve food. You can say all over places you know.
How long have you been working here and in the food service industry?
17 years. Actually I’m foreigner. I immigrated in 2000. I was agriculture engineer in my country. But I came here and I start to do this job. Yes, to give to my kids the best education. I have three kids. They finished college. Now they have good career and good job. And I speak four languages.
You must be proud of them. What languages?
I speak Armenian, I’m Armenian. And I speak Arabic-- and I understand all dialects of Arabic. And I speak Turkish. And English!
Your English is beautiful. Can you talk a little bit about your experience working here during this time?
We are understanding the pandemic we are in. It will go away. I hope. It’s not normal life. It’s not normal work. But we have to go with the flow right?. It will go away someday. I hope. What do you think, it will go away? You are doctor.
Have there been any periods you have been scared to go to work?
Actually yes. But now it’s normal. We used to this life-- this kind of life-- with mask, with washing hands a hundred times a day-- it’s normal now. I don’t know how but it happened.
When did it start to feel normal?
After one month it became normal. Before I was very afraid and scared to go to work. But now it’s normal. It’s all over the world now, not only me.
Has your mentality changed?
I think my mentality changed. That’s the human being. You have to go with the flow.
Does everyone else think this is normal now?
Everyone else thinks the way I am thinking.
You have a unique story Z. You sound like a hard worker. Do you think your story is similar to other workers?
No. But my kind of people-- all the people from my country that immigrate here-- they have the same story.
Are you part of a bigger Armenian community in Worcester?
We don’t have too big a community in Worcester but we have it in Watertown and Boston. I’m very proud to be Armenian of course. And I’m very proud to be American citizen too.
We have three churches in Worcester. But now church is closed. I’m an active person in my community.
Is it hard to see that community now?
It is sad, but what can we do? It is very sad. Everything is on the skype-- now seeing everyone only on the screen. It is what it is. What we can do?
Photographers: H. Del Rosario, A. Giang