What we learned from COVID: Oluwaseyi Arogudade

Oluwaseyi (Seyi) Arogudade poses for a photo with a copy of the Bengal Pur, which she works for, Thursday at the Lewiston High School Library. (Credit: August Frank / The Lewiston Tribune)



When COVID-19 reached the Inland Northwest, few people could have predicted its profound changes. NWPB’s Rachel Sun interviewed local residents about how the pandemic changed their mental health, lives and perspectives. This is the first in a four-part mini series.

When COVID-19 reached the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley in the spring of 2020, Oluwaseyi Arogudade was 14 years old. At the time, Arogudade said, she had been excited for an extra week of spring break. But as weeks turned into months because of school cancellations, she found she had a harder time connecting to her peers.

“Even little things like going to the grocery store with my family, it was just something that didn’t really happen anymore, because my parents wanted me to stay safe and wanted us to stay safe,” she said.

Arogudade also felt anxious watching things happen around her she was unable to control. She coped by writing, she said, something she’d done from an early age. Talking with others, she said, was harder.

“Even though I could FaceTime, and text, and call, I didn’t really do that,” she said. “I was just kind of nervous and on edge throughout those months.”

As she watched social justice movements rise to prominence in the wake of George Floyd’s murder that summer, she also felt alienated from some of her peers.

“Seeing the death of a Black man, a Black man who looked like my father and my brother, and a Black man who looked like a lot of the people in my life, was quite traumatizing,” she said. “Seeing the people that I would once call friends at the time belittle his death in a sense, kind of shocked me. And it confused me.”

Arogudade said those experiences served a big part of shaping her perspective. Now, at 17 years old, she feels she has a stronger sense of self and knows who she is and what she wants. 

“I think the pandemic and just all the things that happened within the year of 2020 helped me know what I want within friendships, and who I want around me, and what values I hold really dear to me,” she said.

This report is made possible by the cooperative agreement with NWPB, the Lewiston Tribune and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.