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For the first time in a long time, it feels like all people on Earth have something in common. An exploration of what unites us in a time of social distancing, we visit and re-visit people in Hongkong and India, Greece and Gaza, among other places.

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episode 17: United States: Voting during the Pandemic [transcript]


Moving to a new state, participating in her first election, and managing new internships is challenging enough for most 18-year-olds to manage, but McKenzie is navigating through these rites of passage in the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this episode, McKenzie will talk about her experience living and working in the American South, what it was like to work with Vote.org - a national non-partisan organization that helps to register and inform eligible voters across the country - during one of the most heated elections in the country's recent history, and what it’s like to grow up in a time of political division in the United States.

This interview was recorded on November 24, 2020.

Guest McKenzie Roller, Avon, Connecticut, USA

McKenzie is currently a Global Gap Year Fellow with UNC Chapel Hill's Campus Y. She is dedicating the year to continuing her work with social change and contributing to social justice efforts before attending UNC Chapel Hill in the fall of 2021. Outside of that work, she is most likely to be found on the beach or exploring new places.

Other episodes with McKenzie:

  • United States: Water Cooler Conversations
  • United States: Graduating into a Pandemic
Additional Shownotes

More about Record of Change and this episode, including a transcript, in the post for this episode on our website: recordofchange.com

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Credits
  • Matthias Jochmann (Post Production)
  • Stephanie Raible (Host, Producer)

An Huy Tran, Thomas Reintjes, Prathap Nair and Kecheng Fang also helped make this episode.


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 2020-12-20  31m
 
 
00:00  Stephanie Raible
Hello, everyone!
00:00
You are listening to Record of Change, Season Two.
00:03
My name is Stephanie Raible, and I am your host for this episode.
00:06
Record of Change listens to stories of individuals from across the world to hear about how their lives are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
00:13
We listen to our interviewees at several points in time as we are eager to learn about how their lives are changing.
00:22
Today, I am speaking to you from Delaware, a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
00:27
This episode was recorded in the thick of the holiday season, with Thanksgiving being this week.
00:32
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ,or CDC, has advised the country against all holiday travel this season to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
00:41
Many are staying home, many are seeing extended family with the support of testing and being cautious,
00:47
and others are throwing caution to the wind due to feeling exhausted and isolated from loved ones.
00:55
Today, we will hear more from McKenzie Roller, an 18-year-old from Connecticut—which in the Northeast—who taking
01:02
a gap year in between college and high school to work with organizations who she feels do impactful things.
01:10
We are catching her at the end of her—almost three-month stay in Wilmington, North Carolina, where she has been working
01:16
with Vote.org, a national non-partisan organization that helps to register and inform eligible voters across the country.
01:25
In this episode, she will talk to us about her impressions of living in the American South, she will share her exciting experiences
01:32
of working with Vote.org leading up to the Presidential Election, she will shed some light on what it’s like to grow up in a
01:38
time of political division in the United States, and she will let us into her holiday plans and where we will find her next.
01:46
But, first, if you like our show, please make sure to subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform, follow us on social media—we have
01:51
active accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and now Facebook—and check out our website for information on our team and all of our guests.
01:58
For our super fans, starting this month, we launched a Patreon page, so if you want to support our work and shows, please consider membership.
01:58
We are grateful for whatever way you engage with us.
01:58
So, now, let’s hear from McKenzie.
02:00
So, Mckenzie, hi!
02:03
Welcome.
02:03
I can imagine the last few months have been really interesting.
02:06
Last time we spoke, you had just moved to North Carolina.
02:10
You were, I think, the next day, going to start your new internship at Vote.org, and so, we're now about two months past that point.
02:20
What's life been like over the last couple months?
02:23  McKenzie Roller
I can't believe it's been two months.
02:24
I feel like time has passed so weird, between just being in the new place, living on my own, and adjusting to a different work schedule, things like that.
02:33
Like time has flown by, like, I couldn't tell you that October even happened.
02:38
Things have been really good.
02:39
I've been learning a lot about myself, about the elections, about Wilmington, where I'm living . Been
02:46
meeting a lot of people and trying to form some real connections, which has been incredible.
02:50
And that's what makes it hard to leave a place.
02:51
Right?
02:52
So, today's actually my last day in Wilmington, which is, I can't believe that already happened.
02:58
So, that's what makes it hard to leave: it's those connections that you formed and things like that.
03:01
So, life has been good.
03:03
I'm happy to say that it's hard for me to leave because that means my time here was meaningful.
03:08
Been feeling like I'm doing some meaningful work through Vote.org and through the nonprofit that I've been working with in Wilmington.
03:15
Grateful to have this opportunity to be on this gap year and doing this work because not sure what it would be like at school right now.
03:21  Stephanie Raible
You were mentioning something about figuring things out about yourself.
03:24
So, as an 18 year old, who's living independently for the first time and your experience in Wilmington, North Carolina.
03:31
Can you tell me a little bit about what that's like, in terms of, what have you been learning about yourself?
03:37  McKenzie Roller
I can be somewhere new or trying somewhere new and figure it out and then it will be okay.
03:41
And like, new is not bad or scary.
03:44
I mean, I can be a little bit scary, but , like I'll figure it out.
03:47
And that's something, I think, I've been learning since like the beginning of COVID, honestly, when things kept changing it a day and,
03:54
just rolling with it and figuring out what's next, but really being on my own and in a new place, with like having to reform community,
04:02
and things like that . Knowing that I can do it, that makes me more confident, I think, in who I am and my ability to face change.
04:10
I think that's been huge.
04:11
I realized what a bubble I grew up in, too.
04:14
Like, I have never really spent any like much meaningful time outside of Connecticut,
04:19
where I grew up and grew up in a small town, went to a small school for high school.
04:26
I went to a boarding school, so I met people from all over the world.
04:29
But just realizing how small my bubble was and being in a new place, meeting new people, having conversations with everyone I meet.
04:37
Realizing that my walk of life is just so completely different than everyone else's, and that's not like a bad thing, it's just understanding.
04:43
And , I think I knew that intellectually, but just like having real personal connections
04:47
with people from completely different walks of life . That's been super eye opening too.
04:51  Stephanie Raible
I feel like based on our conversation last time, that sounded like that
04:54
was actually one of your goals in this year that you wanted to open up your perspective.
04:58
So, thinking back to even the winter time, you really wanted to do, an abroad gap year . And when that seemed to close, this came up.
05:07
And so , it's interesting that you get to feel like you're learning so much within your own country.
05:13
Can you talk a little bit about things like friendships and the people that you've met while in Wilmington?
05:19  McKenzie Roller
Yeah , well, first within the United States, there's so much difference.
05:24
Every place you go is going to be different.
05:25
Culturally, there are going to be similarities between where you're from and where you're living, but there's always going to be differences
05:31
.So, that's been eye opening too.
05:34
Like you don't have to leave the country to get any perspective or, or learn something new.
05:38
But, in my time ,here, some of my closest relationships are with my roommates, who I got really lucky to be with them.
05:44
I didn't meet them until I got here , and they've been amazing.
05:48
They're two juniors at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
05:51
I have the best time with them.
05:53
So, that was really just lucky and they're great friends and people.
05:58
I joined a crossfit gym and one of the coaches, she was like wanting to go to church with me one day, and I was
06:04
like, 'I'm not super religious, so thank you.' And she was like, 'No, you could still come.' And I was like,
06:11
'Okay , I'll go with you.' My family is Christian, but I just feel religion has never been a huge part of my life.
06:16
And we went to church that day and then went out to brunch after.
06:19
And, we stayed super connected.
06:21
She's like 50, but we were like friends.
06:23
We connected over church in a way that like that's never happened in my life before church is completely different here than like in Connecticut.
06:31
There's just a much bigger population of people that goes to church on a regular basis here, at least from what I've experienced here.
06:38
That's been great.
06:39
I've spent a lot of time with an activist, and she was incredible.
06:43
Like, she let me basically follow her around and just learn from her and every space she was in.
06:47
And I have learned so much from her about what, like actual community led leadership looks like and the
06:52
community led change and, what it means to work within the community, to create some real lasting sustainable.
06:59
Change that the community needs, not that someone else thinks they need.
07:03
So, these are all like incredible relationships that I am really lucky to have formed.
07:07
And some of them are just like personal friendships.
07:09
Some of them were, I was learning tons of like actual, , tangible things.
07:13
I've learned a lot from everyone, but...
07:14
Yeah.
07:15
I was really lucky to meet such amazing people here.
07:21  Stephanie Raible
I think it's so interesting we happen to catch you on both sides of this Wilmington experience.
07:34
I feel like it's such a lucky perspective to document your time here, especially on your last day.
07:39
You were there for the purpose of working with Vote.org.
07:43
Can you talk a little bit about that experience?
07:45  McKenzie Roller
Yeah, so I joined Vote.org just about a month before November 3rd, so Election Day in the United States.
07:54
Vote.org is an online, tech-based company that supports voters in ensuring that they have the right to vote and access to vote, so what we were doing at that
08:03
point was making sure as many people were registered to vote as possible, making sure that people knew how to vote because COVID has made some things weird in
08:14
the United States about what polling stations are going to look like because you have the option to vote in person, you have the option to vote by mail, and
08:21
in some States, you can only vote by mail if you have like a valid excuse, like not being in the state or the country or something at the time of the election.
08:29
And only some States would allow you to use COVID-19 as an excuse, like it depended state to state because
08:34
States each have their own laws around elections or around the election and how that exactly happens.
08:38
We did a lot of ' plan your vote' campaigns, and then also Vote.org specifically focuses on reaching hard to hard to reach voters.
08:44
So voters that don't necessarily vote as consistently as other groups of people, or face more barriers to vote than other groups of people.
08:52
That means young people and people of color are the main targets of Vote.org, to make
08:56
sure that they have access to voting and in making their voice heard in the election.
09:01
There are a couple of partnerships and programs that we were running to reach those veterans.
09:05
Like we, started a WhatsApp bot in Spanish that people could text to figure out how to register to vote and
09:11
things like that, to make sure that people who spoke Spanish also had access to the same tools and resources.
09:16
We had food trucks out to like give people food and to also be there with the voter hotline number
09:22
on it because sometimes, there's voter suppression and intimidation that happens in pole lines.
09:26
So, making sure that that number is available to people, if they needed to ever call.
09:31
So, those were like some of the some of the things you're doing.
09:33
There's so much more.
09:34
Like this program.
09:35
It's a small team of people, but running so many programs across the country.
09:40
It was incredible.
09:41
I don't remember what our numbers were, but we reached millions and millions of voters for this election.
09:46
And that made a difference, which is so cool.
09:48
We had the largest voter turnout in the United States that we've had in over a hundred years, like since before women could vote.
09:55
We had over 66% of eligible voters in the United States vote this year, which is unheard of in recent elections, which
10:03
is so exciting because democracy only works when everyone's voice is heard and when everyone's voice can be heard.
10:09
So, 66 is still not the ideal number, but that's way higher than it's been in the United States in years, which is incredible.
10:16
So, everyone at Vote.org works remotely.
10:18
We work across the country from our homes and things like that.
10:21
So, what I was doing, I would help write the newsletter that went out to donors.
10:26
I would help keep some websites up to date., Then do some research for what strategy we should be using, like who we should be targeting, things like that.
10:35
I help specifically with an electionday.org initiative where Vote.org was getting companies to sign on to guarantee paid time off, to vote to employees because
10:45
one of the biggest reasons that people don't vote is because they feel like they're going to lose part of their paycheck to take off the time to go vote.
10:52
So, a big way to increase voter turnout is to have bigger companies guarantee that their
10:57
employees will still get paid while they're at the polls to vote and encouraging that.
11:02
So, I helped a lot with that and like which companies will be the most.
11:05
Impactful to get to sign on,
11:07
Going up to November 3rd, it was 'go, go, go, go, go ' all the time.
11:11
And it was impressive about how many different programs and things each of the people on the team was running.
11:15  Stephanie Raible
Can you tell us any stories that help to illustrate some of the meaningful work?
11:19
Are there any stories that stick out to you about this time
11:22  McKenzie Roller
So electionday.org was a campaign to get those companies to sign on to give guaranteed paid
11:28
time off to their employees to vote the goal had been set to get a thousand companies to sign on by Election
11:33
Day, and the Friday before like the Tuesday that the election was happening , we were at 800-something companies.
11:40
And we were like, 'We're not gonna make it.
11:42
This is so frustrating.
11:43
We're going to get so close and we're not going to reach a thousand'.
11:46
And we sent out one final push to our network, and I'm the one that updates all the companies online.
11:53
And I woke up Monday, good morning, and there were, so, so many form submissions.
11:59
And I was like, 'This is amazing, but like now it's time to sort through it all'.
12:03
And I was sitting in the car because I was on a road trip that day.
12:06
And sitting in the car, on my computer, putting in like going through each company because you got to make sure that
12:10
they're a real company submitted by someone who has the authority to submit it submitted with like actual company policy.
12:15
You have to make sure that they actually meet the criteria.
12:17
And I was sitting in the car and going through all of these finally updated the website,
12:21
and we were at like 1031 companies and I got to send that in the group messaging.
12:26
And that was so exciting and like the excitement from my colleagues who've been working on this for months was amazing.
12:35
Like it was, and it was literally like 'Election Eve' like it was the night before the election.
12:39
And we finally hit that goal.
12:40
When we put the numbers together, as many as 1.8 million employees were impacted by that campaign, which is just so incredible.
12:48
And, that moment was awesome sitting in the car, and we reached a thousand companies.
12:53
Like we did it, literally hours before election day.
12:56
So, Election Day was interesting because it was like, the programs were all building up to Election Day, and Election
12:59
Day was like, 'Let's just make sure everything runs smoothly because the program is we're building up to that moment'.
13:04  Stephanie Raible
And so, just to remind everyone, you're not originally from North Carolina, you're originally from Connecticut.
13:11
How did you vote this year?
13:13  McKenzie Roller
Yeah.
13:13
So I voted by mail.
13:14
I voted absentee in Connecticut because I wasn't in the state at the time of the election.
13:19
You had to request an absentee ballot.
13:21
The ballot gets sent to you.
13:22
You fill it out, and you send it back, which is what a lot of people ended up doing this year because of COVID.
13:27
So, that's what I ended up doing.
13:28
It was interesting for me too because one of the things Vote.org works on is making sure that everyone has access to all of these different things.
13:35
And Connecticut is one of the States where you're required to actually print out a form online and fill it out and send it in.
13:43
So, I had to find a printer because I didn't have a printer.
13:47
Luckily, my apartment complex office does that we can use.
13:51
I had to find a printer.
13:52
I had to find stamps.
13:54
None of the supermarkets here had stamps, which I was like, 'Hmm, that's not good'.
13:58
And um, and I had to go buy envelopes.
14:02
So, I spent like $15 and had to find a printer.
14:07
And luckily, I have access to those things, but I was like, I know that there are so many people that wouldn't ever be able to do this.
14:15
That barrier to vote: this is why I'm working with Vote.org.
14:17
This is why this is happening.
14:19
Some States like, luckily in Connecticut, that's only for the absentee ballots.
14:23
Some States still do that for registering to vote.
14:25
Like, you have to print a form out to even register to vote.
14:27
The systems need to be updated and everything should be able to everything to be able to be done online, that makes it easier and more accessible to everyone.
14:33
There are barriers to do that, and it takes time.
14:35
But that was an experience for sure.
14:37
I was like, this is why Vote.org.
14:38
This is -- this work is meaningful because I had barriers to voting when I really like, and I had access
14:42
to a lot of resources and still I had had the challenge to, to actually be able to vote this year.
14:47  Stephanie Raible
So yeah, it's, it was incredibly tricky this year, but I think it was
14:51
actually really successful because if you figure the voter turnout was so impressive.
14:56
I know folks that are listening from other countries are probably thinking 66% is not anything
15:02
to speak of because there are some countries that require all registered voters to vote.
15:07
You are currently living in a state, that was very 'up in the air' as a 'purple' state , but
15:14
especially for an international audience, they're looking from outside and they see a lot of chaos.
15:20
They see a lot of polarization within the country, a lot of division.
15:24
Can you speak to that?
15:25
Is that something that you witnessed
15:27
? McKenzie Roller: Absolutely.
15:28
Coming from Connecticut, Connecticut goes 'blue' every year.
15:32
So it goes to the Democratic party every single year in the election , most recent years, it has gone to the Democratic party.
15:35
There's not as much as that of that polarization felt necessarily in my immediate connections there, and coming here and being surrounded by people who..
15:43
Like, it is 'purple'.
15:44
So, you're living with people who, some people voted for Trump, some people voted for Biden, and some people didn't vote.
15:49
And like, it's all right next to each other instead of being like separated into little bubbles in Connecticut.
15:55
Here it's like in your face.
15:57
Wilmington is super divided itself.
15:59
Like Downtown, there was a big 'Wilmington for Trump' billboard right next to like signs for like 'Vote for Biden'.
16:07
And, just even in my own personal interactions, when someone say like, 'Oh, I'm voting for Trump' or 'I'm voting for Biden', the mood changes in the room.
16:14
And I was having conversations about that with people it's never been like that really in any other election in the United States.
16:21
Like sometimes, it's like, there are some people that still consider it rude to ask who you're voting for , and so it's really weird that
16:25
in this election, people were so willing to share and ask because people see it, I think, as a defining piece of who you are right now.
16:35
Like, this election, who you voted for, people are viewing it with the weight.
16:39
Like what are your morals is kind of what some people are viewing this election as holding that weight, which creates polarization.
16:46
If you think that someone's voting, against your morals or like against what you value as like basic human traits and not just like how to handle taxes.
16:55
Like if you think that that's something on the ballot, that's going to create polarization.
16:59
And that's kind of what the selection felt like.
17:02
People put a lot of meaning into what your vote said about who you are as person this year.
17:08
right or wrong.
17:09
I've just, I think that happened this year.
17:10
And it was clear that, who you're voting for, mattered on a different level than it has in the past.
17:15
Like, it wasn't just politics.
17:16
It was like more meaningful than that to a lot of people.
17:19
So, definitely felt it . I was really actually grateful to be here though because I am
17:25
someone who believes that you have to be able to have conversations with both sides.
17:29
Like 47% of people voted for Trump.
17:31
50% voted for Biden.
17:33
That is a very close election.
17:36
And for people to say, 'I'm not going to talk to them because they voted for Trump' or 'I'm not going to talk to them because they voted for Biden'.
17:41
Our country can't survive that, and we have to be able to have respectful, meaningful conversations with people we disagree with.
17:48
We need to, we need to get there.
17:50
I don't think, I think that's going to take time, but half of the country cannot just ignore the other half of the country.
17:55
That's just not going to work.
17:57
It's interesting.
17:58
I'm even thinking, from my perspective, of what it would be like to be young during this time.
18:03
What is it like to grow up in such a divided, or perceived divided, country with people unfriending each
18:12
other on Facebook because they're of different parties ? What's it like to grow up in a time like that?
18:18  McKenzie Roller
I mean, I don't totally remember anything different.
18:21
Like the first, my freshman year of high school was the Trump versus Clinton election, which was also super divided and polarized.
18:30
Not like this, but it was kind of the start of that polarization.
18:35
I'm someone who is involved in politics, and the election and follows it.
18:39
So, some of this is in my life because I am interested in it and do try to stay informed about it.
18:45
But social media, there's politics, like people post it on their stories, like who you're voting for things like that.
18:51
I think it's everywhere I look right now, but that's also because I think about it all the time, like I said, so I don't know.
18:56
I think my generation is more willing to speak up about their political beliefs.
18:59
I think that's a big difference.
19:00
We are being raised in a time when it is okay to ask people who you're voting for and to tell people who you're voting for, like that happened in this election.
19:07
And for a lot of older generations, that's like disrespectful to even consider telling or asking who you're voting for.
19:13
In our generation, it's like normal and you it's part of how you get to know someone it's like, ''Oh yeah, this is my friend.
19:18
And they voted for like Biden or Trump, like whatever it is.
19:23
And that, that changes the way that people view each other right now.
19:26  Stephanie Raible
Would you say that when you meet someone who is also young and you find out that they voted for
19:33
someone that you think is a little more problematic, do you see friends or yourself pulling away from that person?
19:40
Is that the dynamic, or is it something where people are interested in hearing why?
19:44  McKenzie Roller
I think it changes depending on which side of the argument you're on
19:49
because , for a lot of people, voting for Trump meant voting against a lot of basic human rights.
19:55
That's how they viewed this election.
19:57
So, for people who believe that, and meet Trump supporters are like, 'No, I don't want to talk to you.
20:03
Like, I don't believe that you're a good person'.
20:04
Things like that.
20:05
,I think, for a lot of people who supported Trump and not Biden, it's like, 'The media is blowing this out of proportions.
20:11
Stop being brainwashed'.
20:12
That's like almost the other side , at least from what I've experienced again in my life.
20:16
And so, I think it depends on the person.
20:19
I think is what it comes down to.
20:20
I think some people are like, 'We disagree on too much.
20:23
I don't want to talk to you.
20:25
I don't think we're going to be able to even respect each other because we disagree on some really basic things'.
20:30
I think that happens.
20:31
And so people don't even try.
20:33
Personally, I would love to have conversations with everyone.
20:36
I meet about why they're voting for who they're voting for, and to try to understand the other side because I
20:41
believe so strongly in my beliefs that like, 'how do you, how did you get there and how did you, how do you have
20:45
like a completely different set of beliefs than I do?' Like, not that it's wrong, but like tell me about it.
20:49
And I love having those conversations.
20:51
I think it's important to have those conversations.
20:54
Yes, there are some things that I..
20:55
that if I disagree with someone on it, we're probably not going to get very far.
20:58
And like, how personally we connect and things like that.
21:01
Because that happens.
21:02
Like, if you disagree on some really big things, that that makes stuff difficult moving forward.
21:06
But I think it's still important to understand where the other side is coming from, and that doesn't always happen right now.
21:13
I think I'm in the minority for sure on that.
21:16
And I've had friends who are like, 'How are you even talking to them'?
21:18
And I'm like, 'You have to.
21:20
He's a good person.
21:21
He's a person.
21:22
He's a human.
21:22
You have to respect them enough to have a conversation'.
21:24
And in that conversation, they disrespect you or disagree on something that is basic to who you are.
21:30
Fine.
21:30
move forward from that as you choose to, but at least be willing to have those conversations.
21:35
I don't know.
21:35
It's such a weird -- even saying that I'm like, 'Wait, is that okay'?
21:41
and your every move right now is more meaningful, I think, than it has been in the past.
21:47  Stephanie Raible
I think, selfishly, from my perspective, I wish more people thought like you, because I
21:51
do think part of what is getting us in trouble is the fact that people are going into bubbles willingly.
21:57
And I think that's been the biggest change in, in your right to say that 2016 was a little bit of a 'mass exodus' especially
22:04
on social media where people really, really started disconnecting from people that they felt were 'on the other side'.
22:12
And it really was something that people clamped down into their news sources a little bit more.
22:19
New organic news sources came out because of the fact that people felt like certain media sources weren't speaking to their values, their perspectives.
22:28
Yeah.
22:29
It's, it's an interesting time to say the least.
22:32  McKenzie Roller
You can find something to validate your opinion anywhere.
22:35
That seems like fact.
22:36
And if you're surrounding yourself with people and only talking and communicating with people who have the same beliefs as you,
22:42
you're only going to see things and hear things that validate your opinion and your beliefs and the beliefs of those around you.
22:48
That's what makes it seem black and white, right?
22:49
That's why those conversations are just important to have and why you can't just surround yourself by people who agree with you.
22:54
And that's the problem people have, but things like Tik Tok and Instagram, like, they are built to show you exactly what you agree with.
23:02
You can keep scrolling, like the algorithm on Tik Tok, supposed to show you things that you agree with and like to watch and keep going.
23:07
So, if you only watch things that are pro Trump or if you only watch things that are pro Biden, that's
23:11
what's going to continue to show up on your page and you're going to be like, 'Oh, everyone believes this'.
23:15
There is not an unbiased news media source anymore.
23:19
I don't even know if there was, but it's important to like spend time, I think, really looking at multiple sources.
23:27
Like, don't just look at Fox.
23:28
Don't just look at CNN.
23:29
Don't just look at New York times, like read them all because they'll all have different takes on the same situation.
23:36
And it's important to understand, I think, those different perspectives.
23:39
Again, it might not change your vote, but it's just important to be informed , not just be in an echo chamber.
23:45
Because no one learns in an echo chamber
23:47  Stephanie Raible
And you're right , I'm someone that reads a lot of different news sources just for the sake of
23:52
what are other people absorbing right now, especially because my family itself and my extended family is so divided.
23:59
Sometimes, I'll look on news media on either side to kind of say like, Whoa, what is this person exposed to?
24:04
So, then say, if I go to see them, I have at least some sense of preparation as to what is the language that I might hear.
24:11
And even though we try to avoid politics, it, it doesn't always end up that way.
24:29
In switching gears, you've been doing all of this during COVID.
24:33
I remember last time, our conversation focused a lot on the earlier days of COVID and where it led you into September.
24:40
and now we're several months into the fall where we're getting a huge spike.
24:44
What's life like for you now?
24:46  McKenzie Roller
For me, I'm working from home, so it didn't affect my work that much.
24:51
That was going to happen anyways, like Vote.org works remotely COVID didn't change that.
24:55
So, my work didn't change there, but my work in the community in Wilmington, definitely had to navigate when to wear a mask.
25:04
When is it okay to not wear a mask.
25:07
Basically never, but navigating that was interesting because people have different perspectives
25:12
and it's almost like a norm when you enter a space, like, 'How are we treating COVID here'?
25:18
Which is so terrible.
25:20
Right?
25:20
But it's like, I can't even believe I'm saying that, but that's what it feels like when
25:24
you enter a space right now, it's like, 'Okay, are we all wearing masks all the time?
25:29
And are we the hand sanitizing everything?
25:31
Or are we just going to stay socially distanced and like just stay outside.
25:35
Like, I don't know.
25:36
It's completely different feelings.
25:38
And when you enter a space, which is just that's wrong because science says like wear mask
25:43
and do it always in protect everyone around you, but that's not what's happening right now.
25:49
Obviously, we're seeing the spikes and the numbers and things like that.
25:52
So in my life, when I went Downtown to engage with the community, it was always in person still.
25:57
So, that was my in-person interactions.
26:00
Like other than that, like go to the grocery store and stuff, everyone wears a mask and things like that.
26:02
But it was a tricky, like 'We're outside.
26:06
We should have masks on.
26:08
We're not really near each other.
26:09
Some people aren't wearing masks.
26:10
Do I wear a mask'?
26:11
Like, navigating that was really interesting.
26:13
Again, I feel like it shouldn't even be a question, but that's what it feels like right now.
26:18  Stephanie Raible
And the hard thing is meeting new people too.
26:20
I imagine you're meeting a lot of new people and you're like, I don't know this person.
26:25
Are they going to perceive me a certain way?
26:28
If I wear a mask too long or not long enough.
26:30  McKenzie Roller
Yes!
26:31
And it's such a weird thing, because again, it shouldn't even be a question we should just be wearing masks all the time, but it holds this
26:37
extra meaning for whatever reason that like, says like, 'Are you someone that really like believes COVID is like a terrible thing right now?
26:43
Or is it like, no, it's, it's fine.
26:45
We're all good.
26:46
We're going to be okay'.
26:46
It's this such a weird social dynamic right now of what it means to wear a mask or not.
26:51
IWhich, again, like it shouldn't even be a question.
26:51
But that's definitely what it feels like right now.
26:52
And I think, other than that, like how has COVID affected me, like, I'm living with young people.
26:56
So, personally, like within our group, it's felt less stressful because I'm not living with parents who are in the high risk category.
27:04
But now, I'm with my parents again.
27:05
So like, last week I got tested, and then tried to stay relatively quarantine to try to avoid that.
27:11
So, there's a different level of responsibility and like stress that comes with that like seeing my parents again and then living with people
27:20
who are in the high risk category, which again, isn't necessarily fair just because like, you don't want to be part of the spread period.
27:27
It's easy when you don't have people immediately in your life that aren't going, like don't have the potential to be really negatively impacted by it.
27:34
So, that's weird too.
27:36
Because again, like you should never be contributing to the spread, but it's just less stressful when
27:39
you know that there's a good chance that if anyone that you're living with got it, it would be okay.
27:43
Now, I don't know because I'm living with parents again.
27:46  Stephanie Raible
Well, let me ask you about that then.
27:47
So , leading up to a full holiday season, and I say full because, for those outside of the States,
27:53
we have Thanksgiving and that very quickly rolls into Christmas time and Hanukkah and New Year's.
28:02
So we have maybe about six weeks of festivities and COVID has put this shadow over it.
28:09
Mackenzie, how are you going to spend the holidays?
28:11  McKenzie Roller
Right.
28:12
Yeah, we still don't know yet.
28:13
I mean, it's hard to say that we're not going to see our grandparents, for Christmas when we have for years.
28:18
And like, we don't want them to celebrate Christmas by themselves.
28:21
We also don't want to get them sick.
28:22
Are we all going to get tested and then quarantine for two weeks like leading up to going to see them or we just not going to see them?
28:30
I still don't think we know.
28:31
I will be home.
28:32
I know that.
28:33
I will be with my immediate family, like my mom and my dad and my sister . We're actually spending Thanksgiving in North Carolina.
28:38
So they drove down here to see me, and so, I'm just with them right now.
28:42
But then like, I'm going to Houston.
28:44
We can get into that in more detail later, but I am living in Houston for the next portion of my gap year in January,
28:48
but need to bring my car there now because I don't want to drive home to Connecticut to drive back to Houston.
28:53
So I'm driving down next week with my dad to Houston to drop my car and things off at the house I'm staying at and then flying back to Connecticut.
29:01
So flying during COVID I haven't done that yet.
29:06
Not sure how I'm feeling about that, but when I get home, I'm going to have to quarantine and get tested, and so there's
29:10
that extra layer of like uncertainty and just stress with traveling and making sure that you're getting places safely.
29:18
That's like the biggest thing that's been on my radar and it's weird because like, I'm going to Houston, I'm working with a program in Houston.
29:23
That's supposed to be in person.
29:25
But numbers are spiking everywhere.
29:28
And so they'll probably move online and Houston might move into a lockdown.
29:31
So I might be getting to a new place and be stuck in a house on my computer for the whole time,
29:38
which that hasn't totally registered, but I'm like, I don't want to be stuck at home either.
29:46
And so why not be stuck in a new place?
29:47
I don't know.
29:47
So that's been a lot of stress and uncertainty again, which.
29:49
Knew it was coming.
29:50
It's just always like another slap in the face.
29:52
Like, yep.
29:53
We gotta just roll with it again and not have a plan and be okay with it.
29:58
And just take what comes.
29:59
So, that's been like overshadowing, all of this other holiday planning.
30:03
That's like, I know I'm going home.
30:04
That's all I know right now.
30:06
And I know I'll be with my immediate family.
30:07
We might go see my grandparents.
30:09
We might not.
30:10
Yeah, numbers are spiking and not even all college students are home yet, which that'll also be another spike.
30:15
I'm sure everywhere, as people are leaving their college campuses and may or may not be bringing COVID home.
30:21
So yeah.
30:21  Stephanie Raible
Well, Mackenzie, thank you so much for being here with us today.
30:24
And next time when we talk to you, you'll be living your Houston, Texas adventure, so we'll get to hear a little bit more about that next time.
30:42
This was episode 8 of our second season with McKenzie Roller from the United States.
30:49
If you want to hear McKenzie’s original episode from Season 1, find it on your favorite podcasting platform or our website, recordofchange.com.
31:00
Stay tuned for the next episode of Record of Change when we will listen to our end-of-season, “holiday special” where the Record of Change
31:07
team will share a hot cup of cocoa together and discuss their impressions of Season 2 and how their lives have shifted since the last season.
31:16
Well, the cocoa is optional, but it will be fun, so stay tuned!
31:19
If you like this episode, or Record of Change in general, please share it in your networks and get in touch with us to give us feedback!
31:23
Make sure to follow us on your favorite podcast provider or find out more about the podcast on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or our website, recordofochange.com.
31:37
This podcast is supported with and by members of the Bosch Alumni Network, a community that brings together
31:42
former and current fellows, grantees and staff members of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and its partners.
31:49
Thank you for listening!