You know there is a bomb under your bed, but you never know if it’s going to explode or not.”
Beginning its feast in Wuhan, China, the novel Covid-19 virus ploughed its way across the world. The virus has infiltrated and infected millions as well as killed thousands of people all over the globe. Not only did it start off by destroying the once ‘beautiful and humanitarian city’ of Wuhan but has too annihilated the beauty and humility in some of the world’s humans.
As we held our breaths on the edge of our barstools, eating a Sunday dive dinner, Prime Minister Mark Rutte addressed the nation at 6pm. March 16th was indeed a strange day for many across the country. Rutte calmingly addressed our anxiety with, rules and regulations of our unforeseeable future here in The Netherlands. Universities were to be closed, restaurants and bars to shut their doors and, god-for-bid, the coffee shops “moeten dicht zijn.” While some of us (me) were crying about losing our jobs, the Leeuwarden locals fl ocked to their nearest dealer for their last fix before population lockdown. Not to mention the toilet paper ideocracy that was happening on a global scale. Wonder how Karen is feeling after purchasing a year’s worth of two-ply. I mean, really?
For most students living in the surrounding European countries, a train or car ride back to their home countries did not come with diffi culty. Unfortunately, for the international students from overseas, uncertainty, fear and sadness pressed heavy on their hearts. For Tana Gammon, a South African media student, who was highly involved in the International Students Association, going home was the only option. “It was so many other governments across the world, taking extreme level 5 population lockdown measures, Tana and her family (like all other South Africans) were forced to remain in their home unless absolutely necessary and with her parents being in the tourism industry, without work for 6 months. After putting all her energy into coming back to The Netherlands and obtain her bachelor’s degree, the university was not able to help her. Let us not forget that international (overseas) students studying abroad pay nearly 4 times more than your average European student. This massive gap in the fees forced Tana to drop out of her studies and remain in her home country.
Tana is most definitely not the only international that felt all kinds of weird during this pandemic. For Hong Gao, also known as Yuri, a Chinese student too based in Leeuwarden, hiding his ethnicity seemed to be the means of protecting himself. Not from the corona virus, but from the human virus of judgment. “As an Asian, I mentally noted that I got unfriendly eye contact. I am more careful and try to hide my identity when going outside,” mentions Gao.
As the first wave hit Europe, Gao had the opportunity to fl ee back to his home in Beijing but decided to remain in The Netherlands as he now calls it home. Although being discriminated against for his race and the assumption of having Covid-19, Yuri did not seem to feel alone. He was able to keep in contact with his family every day. “I feel closer to my family.”
Besides the wrath of a pandemic, planned or not planned, protests have been the go-to demonstration for many civilians across all continents. Black Lives Matter, police brutality and satanic pedophilia rings to name a few. These protests are a means of expression, standing together and bringing forth to the governments that we as a world are waking up to the racism, corruption and abuse that has for so many years been overlooked.
Or are we?
According to Gao songs on the nDutch radio state otherwise. “I heard a song from Dutch radio station making jokes about the Chinese food saying you will get corona after you eat it.” Yes, yes. We should all know by now that the Dutch are ‘direct’, but where on earth does one draw the line? No, not in one of the diabolical Doelesteeg bathrooms you naughty. Racism, corruption and abuse happens daily with only a select few calling these issues out. When did being a decent human being go out of fashion? I can assure you, a lot faster than last season’s leopard print fl ares.
Many have sacrificed themselves to help fi ght Covid-19, yet low level and small-minded entities seem to lurk around every corner blaming China and its population over a pandemic that is suspiciously…well, suspicious. Take responsibility.
Let us not forget that “the more pain you remember the more you can fi ght back,” mentions Gao
We are all in this together. Our generation has the capacity to be the difference.
Stay educated, be aware, remain conscious.