Exchange students express coronavirus concerns

Huangs wonder if parents will be able to attend graduation


Gracie Carr

Harry and Reed Huang are exchange students from China.

Jackson Hern, Reporter

Just over two months ago, the Chinese government began to alert the World Health Organization to cases of an unusual pneumonia in the port city of Wuhan, which has a population of around 11 million.

Since that time, more than 2,000 deaths have been reported just in mainland China. For many Americans, those are just statistics. But for two students from China, those numbers mean much more.

Even thousands of miles away, the crisis has significantly affected several members of the student body, particularly two individuals from China who took the time to reflect on their personal experiences and reactions to the virus: seniors Harry Huang and Reed Huang. “I was worried about the timing because it was so close to the Chinese New Year,” Harry said. “Since many people would be traveling between cities, the virus could be spread very easily.

Reed said he had a similar reaction when he first heard the news of what his homeland was dealing with. “I was shocked and terrified because we have already withstood a similar intensive pathogenic assault, the outbreak of SARS, which claimed over 900 lives worldwide and caused a terrible tragedy in China in 2003,” he said. “I was scared that something similar would happen again.”

Many travel bans similar to those introduced by Indiana colleges and universities have been proposed on a national level, which could affect both Reed and Harry’s families. The United States has warned its citizens not to travel to China, and China has warned its citizens not to come to the United States. “The virus did not affect any of my plans traveling to China,” said Harry. “However, my parents may not be able to attend my graduation because of the 14-day travel restriction that (President) Trump imposed.”

Similarly, Reed worries that his parents “might not be able to come to my graduation due to the flight bans. It is uncertain whether or not I will be able to go back home during the summer since all of the flights have been canceled,” he said.

Neither Harry nor Reed had planned to go back to China during the upcoming spring break, they said, so this will not be an issue for them.

No one that either student knows has been affected by this virus. “The increasing number of confirmed cases concerns me, of course,” said Harry. “I do not know anybody personally that has gotten the virus; most people have been working from home or studying online.”

Both Reed and Harry have made a point to keep in touch often with their loved ones throughout the course of the outbreak. “I video chat with my family and friends every week to understand the situation there,” Reed said. “The outbreak makes me anxious and worried, but luckily no one that I know has been affected.”

As the Chinese government and the rest of the world works to better understand and control the rapid spread of this virus, both Reed and Harry continue to be hopeful that solutions will be found soon. “Based on what I have heard from both my relatives and the news, the Chinese government has been working very hard to stop it from spreading,” Harry said.

“I fully believe in our country and our government,” said Reed.