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February 21, 2020

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Foreign students help viral fight

INTERNATIONAL students in Shanghai are doing their level best to contribute to the fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic.

Students at East China Normal University’s School of Advanced International and Areas Studies have donated 5,000 yuan (US$715) to a university foundation that will send it to Wuhan University’s Renmin Hospital.

“As a country with a civilization of more than 5,000 years, China has experienced and overcome numerous hardships and difficulties,” said Russian student, Diadichko Aleksandra. “This outbreak is just one more. It will only make the Chinese people more united. We believe that China and Wuhan will win this battle against the virus.”

Laotian student Sisavath Phonenasay, chair of the Laotian International Student Association in Shanghai, organized other Laotian students in the city to donate nearly 7,000 yuan to Hubei Province.

Habibur Rahman, a Bangladeshi student majoring in Chinese international education, encouraged other Bangladeshi students in China to donate after he heard a university fundraising channel had opened. He and two other Bangladeshi students donated 2,000 yuan.

Rahman said he and his friends are impressed by the medical staff, deliverymen and drivers in Wuhan and wanted to do their part, no matter how small.

“The virus is threatening people’s lives. We can’t just stand by,” he said. “No matter which country we come from, we must unite. We also want to express our support and friendship to Wuhan and the Chinese people. We firmly believe China will win this battle soon. We love China. It is our second home!”

Life on campus

Rahman planned to visit Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, to see his older brother who is working there.

“But when I heard about the viral outbreak on January 25, I decided to follow the government’s advice and stay here,” he said.

His brother returned to Bangladesh, and his mother wanted him to come back as well.

“She was worried about me,” Rahman said. “But after I told her I believe China can solve the problem and everything will be OK soon, she calmed down and asked me to eat more fruit.”

According to Shen Jun, director of ECNU’s Student Life and Support Office, said there are 180 international students on the two university campuses.

ECNU has postponed the start of spring semester and told faculty and students not currently on campus to delay their return. Those who do return will be quarantined. The university is now closed to the public and only those with valid campus ID cards are allowed to enter (but need to apply for entry in advance).

Public study areas, including libraries and teaching buildings, are closed, and cafeterias are only offering take-away food.

The university’s Global Education Center publishes notices on virus prevention and control every day on WeChat. Many WeChat groups have been established to track students’ locations, health conditions and needs.

As some students prefer cooking for themselves, the university has established partnerships with nearby supermarkets that deliver food to the university gate twice a week. ECNU also provides students with masks.

“Everything is convenient in the university. I have only left campus twice in the past 20 days,” said Rahman. “Teachers encourage us to exercise outdoors, such as running and ball games, to keep ourselves healthy and happy.”

He usually reads books and listens to music in his dorm room and sometimes goes outside to practice cricket.

Elizabeth Miller Holly, a master’s student majoring in politics, said although life is a bit different right now, she understands the measures the university has taken.

Director Shen said the university has launched online activities, such as Chinese-idiom competitions, lantern riddles and singing to help students stay busy.


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