Jack MacDonald '21
Being abroad in China as COVID-19 developed
Reflecting on my fall semester in Beijing is surreal right now. In my Media Studies course at Peking University, we studied the role that the SARS epidemic played in shaping the climate of CCP crisis reporting in mainland China. Essentially, early efforts to control the narrative resulted in more transmissions. Thus, state media adopted a new approach to information-sharing that resulted in quick containment and the creation of national health campaigns that are still evident on PKU's campus today.
Given the situation we are currently in, it is very clear that COVID-19 is no SARS. Yet when I hear increasingly politically-charged dialogue from figures in power surrounding a so-called "Chinese virus", I am concerned about the implications of this divisive, finger pointing ideology. I think about my internship coworkers in Beijing who lost family members to COVID-19 and beloved Mandarin Professor who spent nearly two months quarantined in a tiny apartment thirty minutes outside Wuhan. I think about shared experiences and the universal fear of the unknown.
On a national level, we are being posed necessary questions on how to support the working class and achieve equitable access to healthcare. These questions are no longer a debate stage question of campaign philosophy but an immediate question of survival for thousands of people. As the United States becomes the country with the most documented virus cases in the world, fear is at an all time high. I hope that this fear can be channeled as a source of unity on the world stage- a catalyst for meaningful dialogue, productive initiatives, and a reflection on humanity that motivated me to study International Studies in the first place.
I am grateful for the opportunity to study abroad in the midst of Trade War, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the CCP, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Studies major has given me academic opportunities I could have never imagined and I am thankful to rely on the Boston College community for support in times of uncertainty.
The best advice I've received in the past week? Stay healthy and continue having meaningful conversations.