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PERSPECTIVE: Yao on COVID-19
Steven Yao

In the diverse Baylor community, students come from all around the world. As countries are fighting with different levels of severity during this COVID-19 outbreak, international students are facing a variety of dilemmas.

Students like me who experience long-distance travel have to endure more than 10 hours of flight with no food and the potential risk of infection in public places.

For the remaining of the semester, staying on top of the work also poses great challenges. Matthew Tanrudee, a senior from Thailand, has to overcome the time difference to keep his GPA, which often means attending midnight classes and adjusting sleeping schedules.

Others, such as Aline Houben, a previous prospective student from Belgium, has a difficult time finding “the motivation to work when she’s all the time at home,” a vibe shared by every quarantined student.

While classwork remains crucial, the separation from friends and family makes the process harder to get through. Felipe Freitas has been unable to reunite with his parents since January as he returns to Brazil with his sister while his parents are stuck in England.

Indeed, one will truly feel the harshness of seclusion under the two-week quarantine without any interpersonal exchange, and the longing for social interactions simply gets stronger every day. Without a doubt, this unprecedented situation left us with disappointments and frustrations. I really thought I would have time to say good-bye to all my friends that are leaving Baylor for college or other reasons, and as Felipe hopes, but the reality only permits us to lament in vain. 

As humanity is stumbling past this historical moment, we find ways to pull ourselves up. It was late at night as I browsed through Instagram posts until a Facebook commercial attracted my  attention. Thirty seconds into the video, I was choked with sobs. It's juxtaposition of the emptiness of global landscapes and the positivity among people accompanying Kate Tempest’s soulful hymns deliver the powerful message: “We're never lost if we can find each other.” For a moment, love and understanding have no boundaries, and it reminds me that we are in this together. (Watch it here).

I am tremendously fortunate to be part of the Baylor community as we are always united under the same spirit. The weekly RAGTAILS and senior speech always cheer me up, and the support from teachers cannot make me happier. Still, it disheartens me, as a global citizen, to know that when the total number of deaths due to the coronavirus has surpassed 240,000 people worldwide, many heated arguments and rants are raised on who is responsible for the onset of this global pandemic while ignoring that behind this ghastly number is countless of grieved families and souls.

To say the least, everyone is responsible, and everyone has the obligation to spread positivity to others like the kindness that is so well carried by the cookies and signs we are sharing with our graduating seniors. Allen Ginsberg, a well-known author, once wrote, “under the burden of the solitude, under the burden of dissatisfaction, the weight, the weight we carry is love.” No matter what you are doing, and no matter where you are in the world, I’m sending you love. And I wish you could do the same. Because when the dark clouds dissipate, when we reconvene under the same roof, there won’t be six feet between us. 

While the situations vary between countries, our optimism of life transcends through nationality and race: Matthew resumes his golf practice as Thailand starts to open up; Aline prepares diligently for the final exams at her school; and Felipe, well, is on his way to binge every good TV show on Netflix.

Amidst such calamity, we work every dread day until tiredness wraps around our souls; we stave off frustrations with the optimism of a brighter future; and we strive to stay alive knowing there will be shimmering light at the end of the tunnel.  

 

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