Let me start this off by saying that I do not have the coronavirus. I do not know anyone with it and want to make it clear that I am not relating the suffering of others to me. But this unique virus with the name COVID-19 has taught me a very important lesson about life, patience and plans.
While I do not have the virus, I am affected by it and I believe everyone is in some way. As of now, the virus infects almost 90,000 confirmed individuals, with thousands more probably not diagnosed. Recently the President has addressed the nation claiming that they are "very rapidly" working on a vaccine for the virus, however the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has yet to confirm this. The virus has become a definite global issue, and countries such as China, South Korea, italy and Iran have been raised to health risk level 3 hazard zones by the CDC.
And here I stand. An ambitious student excited about a wonderful opportunity he has been gifted: a one month long study abroad trip in the heart of London, United Kingdom.
I have had really exciting plans this summer. I signed up for Birthright and was going to go to Israel for 10 days. I was going to study in London for a month, and then ship my items back to the states while I take a week or two to travel western Europe and fly out of Italy back to Miami.
But per my University's policy, all travel to countries with level 3 health hazard risks is to be suspended if it is through the University. As of now, the Italy abroad programs have already been cancelled. With over 50 people in the UK now infected with the Coronavirus (a number that Italy hit just 2 weeks ago), my plans are looking grim. As one can imagine I feel frustration.
This has probably been my one opportunity to do such an abroad trip at such an amazing price. Next summer I have plans of being an Orientation Leader and am expected to remain domestically for the length of the summer. After that, there is no following summer. I graduate before then, unless I do decide to change my major and take a slower route to graduation. I perhaps can do that, but there is this anger I have that my beautiful travel plans may have to be postponed for over two years.
But I realized something about this. A few things in fact. The first realization that came to me is that plans are never 100%. As much as I would have liked to tell everyone I was going to London for the summer, and see no difficulties and hitches, plans just aren't that simple.
The second is this. During any crises, people will look for a scapegoat to blame due to their own frustrations and difficulties with the crisis. During the housing crash of 2008, many Americans were quick to blame immigrants as the main problem. Now with COVID-19 infecting thousands and spreading across the globe causing issues for hundreds of thousands of people due to cancelled travel plans, quarantines, worsened healthcare, crashing economies or just sheer anxiety, people are quick to blame another group of people. The Chinese.
With this crisis several hoaxes have been formed that this virus is lab made in China, it's a bioweapon (see 02/20/20 of podcast), certain foods contain it, and more. This has created a sort of demonification of China, Chinese people, or just Asian Americans in general. Stores across the globe have signs that read "No Chinese," and individuals are calling for blocking entry of Asians into the US.
And the memes. Oh the memes. Often a comfort in times of tragedy and crises, there is an extremely high amount of blatantly racist and xenophobic meme content being produced online. Yet colleges such as UC Berkley remark that these are just "normal reactions" of people, while dismissing the xenophobia it as an issue in released statements. Thus normalizing the fear mongering of Asian Americans.
So as easy as it is to take my anger out on Asian students attending the same University I am, it is necessary to realize the fact that they are humans. Humans that are just as affected as everyone else is by the coronavirus. Taking one's personal anger out on people is as immoral as one can get. It's horrible and disgusting that this is even an issue. In times like this it is necessary to remain calm, and really not worry. Was there anything I could have done anyway? Any situation could have prevented my trip, and even now it is not 100% assured it will be cancelled. Plans are plans for a reason. They're never solidified until they actually occur, and I just have to wait an see patiently.