Early in the founding of Girl Gone International, we found that through the sharing of stories we forged and reinforced our identity as individuals and collectively as an organization. Over the years we have documented our journeys through the telling of our stories, the invisible threads that connect us no matter where we are or where we go.
To continue this tradition, we have started the Real GGIs, Real Stories project. This project aims to share the stories of GGIs around the world through collections of stories that share, explore and highlight the experiences of women living international lifestyles.
Our inaugural series, Pandemiversary, explores the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on GGIs around the world. The pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on women. Just over a year since the World Health Organization declared the pandemic, the GGIs in this series reflect on their past year. The good, the bad and what they’ve learned.
May Jimenea, 29
Originally from the Philippines living in Sharjah, UAE.
“Everyone talked about how 2020 was going to be the year for them, and this was true for me too. I had just uprooted my entire life and moved to a new city, and it was a really good opportunity for me, exactly what I wanted for my career. My husband had quit his job and moved with me and luckily he found a new one within our first month there. It was all working out better than I had ever dreamed.
2020 was also supposed to be the year of financial stability when we could finally enjoy having more money coming in. Then the pandemic hit. My husband was laid off. Luckily I wasn’t, but for the first time in my life, the fear of not having any money or a job really hit me. Our priorities suddenly changed and the first thing I did was evaluate our finances, open a joint savings account and set some financial goals.
I found that in making a plan, in safeguarding our future helped me deal with the uncertainty of the present.
I made a daily practice to be conscious of how lucky we were and to feel blessed. Despite my husband losing his job, we wouldn’t have to go to a grocery store with a calculator in our hands like my parents did, like people in my community do, trying to make sure that we have enough money in our pocket. This is a tremendous privilege.
As a result of our heightened awareness of our financial position and managing our finances better, I have managed to start to build my savings during the pandemic.
I have learned that life is unpredictable, and it is important to be prepared for that!”
By Kristyna Hoang
Kristyna is a Third Culture Kid by birth and the queen of living out of two suitcases by choice. She has lived on 3 different continents and in 8 different countries — sometimes due to studying and others through her work in the international security field. When she’s not working you can find her on the couch watching reality TV shows with her two rescue puppies and her first husband (did I say first? I meant “loving”).