L.D., 20, a student in Palo Alto, CA

I was among the 2000 Chinese students at Stanford who were first alerted when cases of community infection appeared in Santa Clara county and signed the petition to ask the school to take action. We were glad to see that the school took action the following week. However, even though I expected rapid development from what I saw at home in China, the sheer speed at which things evolved in the next few weeks was still incredible. Around early March when many schools in the country were starting remote learning, many friends of mine who are international students from China were both physically and verbally assaulted (e.g. being pushed, being called names, yelled at, etc.) just because they wore a mask on the street or in the grocery store. My parents in China felt strongly about wearing masks, but in the early days, I was quite afraid of doing so, even when I was living at Stanford. As domestic undergraduate students all moved away from dorms and the few of us left were mostly international, I finally had the courage to start wearing masks when grabbing to-go boxes from the dining hall. Even so, I still constantly felt uncomfortable wearing masks because people in the US at that time thought wearing masks were useless and doing so would only make healthcare workers harder to get access to masks (even though most people wore regular medical masks and not N95 respirators). It is only until May when the school required everyone to wear masks that I finally felt comfortable in my masks. It was incredible to see that a commonsense action in Asia would be seen as controversial in the US.

I wrote the following haiku for fun:

I wore mask since March // “Stay away, Chinese virus!” // But joke is on them

Right now I am typing this in my dorm on May 9th while eating Doordash food delivery from Poke House. I had an extremely busy week because I still couldn’t be efficient in my studies when I had to sleep, eat, relax, work, study all in a small, 14 square meters room in my dorm. That being said, I managed to get my hands on a Nintendo Switch from BestBuy at its *regular price* (most official retailers are out of stock and 3rd party sellers are marking the price by 1.5x or more), and spending a few hours every day in my virtual island in Animal Crossing: New Horizon was still a great joy. I expect to continue this type of lifestyle for the next few months, as I will most likely not be able to go home for summer (worried about US denying entry of people coming from China). I think the sheer fact that the school was generous enough to let me stay in the dorm is something to be extremely grateful for.

Life is good as always.


[submitted on 5/9/2020]

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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