HUSTers Talk

OLEKSANDR SHEVCHUK:If not me, then who? My life during lockdown in Wuhan

Sep 3, 2020




Affected by COVID-19, Wuhan was on lockdown in the spring of 2020. Due to the global epidemic, HUST students both at home and abroad were unable to return to campus. How has COVID-19 affected international students living in Wuhan? What kind of support or care have they received? What role did International students play during the epidemic? ……We speak with OLEKSANDR SHEVCHUK to learn about his life here in Wuhan during that time.


OLEKSANDR SHEVCHUK is a Ukrainian doctoral student in School of Public Administration at HUST. He is fully funded by the Chinese Government scholarship. He was the representative of international students at the opening Ceremony in 2018 and is the person in charge of the internship and employment of international students in HUST. During COVID-19, he assisted international students in epidemic prevention and control as well as material support, and was recommended by the university as a candidate for People's Republic of China Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card due to his outstanding performance.


Q:

Why did you choose to study in China?

A:

It’s a really good story. First, I came to China for the first time in 2015 as a postgraduate student for Chinese language study and it was then that I understood how great China is and Chinese universities are much better than those in Ukraine. Thus, in 2016 I came to China again and to study at HUST to get my master’s degree.


Q:

In early 2020, Wuhan was on lockdown due to the epidemic. How has this affected your life?

A:

It was very hard to stay home at first especially when everything became closed. I didn’t know what to do and where I could go. Luckily, I have many Chinese friends who helped me a lot through this tough time. It felt like I wasn’t alone here during that time. I never got the feeling that I was an outsider, a foreigner in my community.


Q:

What kind of care or help did you receive during your stay in Wuhan?

A:

My Chinese friends helped me a lot by finding some supermarkets with delivery services, and some of them helped me to contact the staff and volunteers of my community. HUST also did everything that it could do, from helping foreign students to shop a few times a week, to even trying to solve visa problems and also some health related problems such as contacting the hospital, registering for some hospital services in the most critical time, etc.


Q:

Far away from home, didn't you worry about your own safety? Why did you become a volunteer?

A:

I want to do something special for others. As a foreigner, I know a few languages. But there are not so many people with such a background. Many foreigners were not so familiar with Wuhan, so I offered to help them, just as how my Chinese friends assisted me. I taught them how to shop online and gave some advice. When they expressed their appreciation, I always replied, "If not me, then who?"


Q:

What was the most difficult problem you encountered while volunteering?

A:

It was really hard to tell some people that you cannot solve their problems. Because there were some of them that we couldn’t solve under the lockdown. And that made me feel really bad. Kind people looked for help, but didn't get it.


Q:

What did you feel most moved or impressed by during the epidemic?

A:

For me, it's the unity of Chinese people, unity of workers who constructed a hospital in 10 days, unity of doctors who left their own families in other provinces to help Wuhan, and unity of the whole Chinese Nation, when all people wore masks, when everybody stayed at home, when there were so many volunteers that it was impossible to register them all, and when all the people said "thank you" while crying when all of the doctors returned home after the lockdown.


Q:

On February 19, Ukraine withdrew a lot of overseas students in China. You were eligible to leave. But why did you choose to stay in Wuhan?

A:

The embassy did give us an opportunity to go back home when we knew that people in Wuhan were at risk. But I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. It was a long way to go back home and I did not know if I could get home without being infected. I didn’t want to pose any threat to my family. So I chose to stay. Now I think I made a right choice because China has been effective in fighting against COVID-19 and at the moment I believe China is the safest country.


Q:

During the epidemic, all students had to take class online. Did you adapt to it? Do you prefer offline or online learning?

A:

I think both are great. In offline classes, I can get some knowledge by communicating with other classmates and having a discussion. During the online lessons you are much more concentrated on the content of the lesson, and you also have more time at home, which means you can have a more flexible agenda. But I do miss the university so much. And I look forward to seeing all my classmates in classroom.


 


Interviewer: Rong He

Interviewee: OLEKSANDR SHEVCHUK

Edited by: Yumeng Peng


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