By: Vicky Liu ‘20 Reporter
Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic, they hoped to reunite with their families thousands of miles away. Over 40 hours, their journey home was quite long. Traveling home, they carefully took off their masks and quickly took a few bites of snacks to fill their stomachs. They are not different from any of us or from any of those who are affected by the epidemic. They, too, feel boredom, helplessness, grief, and gratefulness for the heroes all over the world who deal with the virus at its forefront. They, too, wish that families, friends, and strangers could stay safe and healthy. They are the Chinese international students in our community who chose to fly back to China earlier than the rest of the group.
It was a dilemma whether or not to return to their home country. In the U.S., because of their skin color or decision to wear a mask in order to protect themselves, they are regarded by some as virus carriers who everyone should avoid. In mainland China, some citizens call those who come back “pioneers who throw poison across thousands of miles.”
The interviews below are those of three Chinese international students’ experiences and feelings related to the pandemic.
Focus: What’s coronavirus’s biggest impact on you?
Lavinia Wang (‘22): Since my return, it’s incredible how I’m living with Eastern Time in the GMT+8 timezone. I’m completing homework and taking virtual courses with a 12-hour time difference. I do miss the chem labs, as we are unable to use all the lab materials on campus.
Ben Nie (‘20): What influences me the most is the public’s opinions. Certain western media blame the Chinese for bringing coronavirus into the U.S., while some people in China comment on their social media that international students are reintroducing the virus to their home country, where the coronavirus finally tends to be under control.
Twyla Zhang (‘21): Coronavirus makes me more appreciative about everything. I’m sure that by now everyone has lost something due to the virus (e.g. vacation plan, money, or prom (!)). However, compared to some, they are the lucky ones. Others have lost their loved ones or even their own lives.
Focus: Did you have any impressive experiences or feelings during the flight?
LW: During the flight, which took more than 10 hours, only a pack of snacks was provided. Few people took off their masks to eat it. Throughout the journey, my temperature was taken, and I had to fill out a number of forms. The same went for other passengers.
BN: The flight ticket was difficult to get. I bought the ticket early enough so that I got it for ¥5000 [$710], but some of my friends spent ¥100,000 [$14,206] for it! It was an uneasy journey. It took 33 hours to get to Guangzhou and an extra 10 hours of drive to arrive in Shenzhen. I ate nothing except a few snacks, which I took with me.
TZ: I never felt that eating and drinking were a privilege, but they are now. It takes risk to do them.
Focus: Tell me a little more about your experience of quarantine or going back home.
LW: I see that life is going back to normal. Stores are re-opened. Even though the epidemic has eased, people still keep in mind to wear masks and other protective gear.
TZ: How quarantine works in China is that anyone who comes outside of the territory should quarantine in a hotel assigned by the government for 14 days. That happens right after landing. Then, they should take their temperature daily and do the nucleic acid test twice a day. On my third day of the quarantine, I felt very bored. It was the type of boredom where you know that you had work to do, but you could play anything on the computer, even though you were just sick of it. I am also watching videos of cats.
Focus: Is there anything that you want to say to people all over the world or people from Friends’ Central?
LW: I hope anyone who wants to go home can eventually go home. Stay safe! Also, healthcare staff all over the world have worked so hard. I respect them so much.
BN: People are still not serious enough about coronavirus. It is not a joke. It’s a situation that needs everyone to collaborate and fight against. While millions of lives are suffering from this, should we just do nothing and feel bored at home?
TZ: The virus is borderless. We can get over it together.