In mid-January, when Mercedes Bern-Klug, a professor of social work at the University of Iowa, began teaching master’s students at the University of Guadalajara, she thought she had arrived in paradise, she said.
“In Iowa this time of year it’s cold and overcast. In Guadalajara, it’s bright and 72 degrees. It’s a beautiful city. The trees are full of flowers. I could move around without worrying about weather. I took a bus and the Macrobus to my job. The street food—fruit, jicama on a stick, lonches—is fresh and inexpensive.”
Bern-Klug enjoyed her work too — 24 enthusiastic students taking their first master’s-level class in English. The class, called “Global Aging,” dealt with the aging of population as it is unfolding around the world.
“In its historical context, it’s unprecedented that so many people will live to an old age,” she explains.
The class was perking along just as the novel coronavirus was coming into focus around the world. “At first I enjoyed the public transport, but with the virus I started worrying and I wore a mask at times.”