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Senior Mars Hou describes difficult choices, promotes protection, fitness

Senior Yuteng (Mars) Hou is a Chinese international student at Fresno Christian Schools, one of many participants in the AmeriStudent program. 

COVID-19 commonly referred to as coronavirus, emerged in China in December 2019 and cases in the United States began to grow in February 2020. Today, the number of cases in the United States is gradually increasing, adding to a global pandemic. Yet many in the United States did not originally take the virus seriously. This is a concern as I have COVID-19 concerns and fears.

Mars Hou | The Feather Online

Since schools were closed March 16, international students have faced the decision whether to return to their home country or stay in the United States to finish the school year via alternative learning.

At the White House conference on Feb. 26, President Donald Trump reported that there were currently only five cases in the U.S, and it is estimated that it will only increase by one or two in the next period. He even pointed out that the United States will be very lucky and said on Feb. 27 that the virus will soon miraculously disappear.

However, this has proven to be an issue.

As a result, many in the general populace did not pay attention to the seriousness of the matter, and two different theories spread among Chinese students: to return home to China or remain in the USA. 

Now the Chinese government reports the virus is under control in China. Parents from China understand the severity of the virus as know it’s emerging in the USA and hope that their children return home soon.

Chinese students face choices. In the United States, the condition was not very serious at first, there were only a few dozen cases with very few tests offered in February and March, according to the NY Times. Many believed the virus could be controlled with good hand-washing and without touching their face, similar to a typical virus. The daily life of students did not change, and parents did not know whether the condition would become serious in the future and also have COVID-19 concerns.

In just a few weeks, the COVID-19 the death toll in the United States grew and exceeded 10,000 as of April 6. Many Chinese students are also required by their parents to remember to wear masks

For those who do not have an N95 or surgical masks, the CDC is recommending that individuals fabric their own mask as supported by the following tweet.

Because coronavirus belongs to the strain of coronaviruses, which is respiratory tract infection, the main mode of transmission is saliva and sneeze, or droplets. The sneeze of normal people is like a shotgun. Saliva can fly 10 meters. Some Chinese students have even started planning to return to China.

Soon, the American confirmed cases exceeded 10,000, and the two theories became stronger: Returning home or staying has become a difficult problem for every international student studying abroad, but staying in a country where the virus grows exponentially is daunting. 

In a few days after the first case, many schools announced that classes were suspended. The outbreak in the United States is getting more serious, and more international students have opted to return home by their urging of parents where masks have been used for decades.

American schools are closed, including the mandated closing by California Governor Gavin Newsom, and many schools have adopted online teaching methods to continue the school curriculum.

 If Chinese students return to China, online courses are another problem. Due to the Chinese network, students who want to log in to the US in China need to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Imagine that there is a wall between the U.S. network and the Chinese network, and VPNs can let people cross this wall, but the network is not stable. It is impossible to determine whether they can complete online courses and assignments and whether they can receive grades.

The coronavirus condition in the United States has skyrocketed. When the president of the United States realized the seriousness of the matter, Donald Trump began to emphasize the “Chinese virus” and the “Wuhan virus” as in the following tweet without regard to many who have asked he not use this language.

At first, people should be aware of the coronaviruses when they go out, but instead, they started to be cautious about Asians. Asian students need to be careful not only about viruses but also discrimination. Yet too often, instances of racism has already surfaced.

The outbreak of the virus has caused a large number of people to buy flights, and the airport has become one of the places where people gather most. Airports are a very dangerous and most vulnerable place.

Intensive crowds are the best opportunity for the virus to spread, and to stay safe, people must avoid physical contact and aerosolized body fluids. To take every care just in case, many Chinese students choose to fully arm themselves with masks, chemical protective clothing, gloves for years at home and now do so while in the United States.

It is important to stay fit even while the shelter-in-place mandate continues. According to the World Health Organization, there are tips to stay healthy in the following tweet.

As the virus outbreak happens to be in the graduation season, many Chinese students are in their final year this year and are preparing to enter university. The sudden seriousness makes it impossible for them to choose to return to their country. The instability of being able to graduate smoothly or to return for their first semester of college makes it impossible for them to give up their efforts and money over the past few years. 

Yet a word of warding to Chinese students returning to China will have their student visas revoked if they leave for five months and will need to re-apply F1. 

International students who are about to graduate and want to enter the new school are not sure when the illness will end, whether they can re-apply for a student F1, whether they can get credit for normal online courses, and whether they can graduate successfully. There is mounting uncertainty. Most of them dare not return to China.

As of April 6, the CBS Local in Sacramento reports of the United States exceeded 10,335 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and became the country with the largest number of infections in the world.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security states that “The routing of all flights with passengers who have recently been in China, Iran, and certain European countries through select airports with established resources, procedures, and personnel is an important, prudent step DHS is taking action to decrease the strain on public health officials screening incoming travelers and protect the American public.”

U.S. flights to China have also been restricted. Although schools now know the severity of the virus, some universities have helped international students answer questions about whether they can graduate successfully. 

There are many international students who choose to return to the country when they are not sure whether they can get credits when they return home. Tickets for most students canceled, the prices of some of the remaining flights were several times higher than at the beginning of the epidemic, missing the best time to return to China. They are now waiting at their host’s home.

In the end, I hope people don’t go out as much as possible, go out to protect, pay attention to personal hygiene at home, and exercise regularly to improve immunity. Understand that special treatment is given at special times. Viruses are relentless. Freedom and rights are meaningless without life. I wish you all health and happiness despite the difficult situation and decisions ahead.

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