Global: Meet a Chinese Boarding School Student in Connecticut
Interviewer: Ashley Liang; May 2, 2020
Interviewee: Maggie Xiang, High school junior @ The Gunnery, a boarding school in Connecticut
The Gunnery, a boarding school in Connecticut, USA (Voith and Mactavish Architects).
I am Maggie, a current Junior at a Connecticut boarding school, and I am from China. The first time I started to understand the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak was when I was notified in January that all the flights from China to the US were cancelled until mid-April. I planned to fly back home in early March for our spring break, but after considering the risk of not being able to be back to campus when the spring trimester starts, I cancelled my flight.
"Since I had been closely following the data reported in China for two months, I knew that if there was no action to be taken, the confirmed cases in the US will sky-rocket."
Not anticipating the pandemic would affect the US so heavily, I decided to spend my nineteen-day spring break touring around the South for college visits. Two days before my first flight, new cases started to emerge in the US. Since I had been closely following the data reported in China for two months, I knew that if there was no action to be taken, the confirmed cases in the US will sky-rocket. Knowing that the colleges may close on-campus visit options as the situation worsens in the future, I thought that visiting them during my spring break would be my only chance. However, the idea of going to a crowded airport and flying in an airplane with hundreds of other people for several hours scared me. Amidst of making this hard decision, I received emails from all the colleges I planned to visit saying that the on-campus tours were cancelled.
I followed the data compiled by JHU closely every day. When I read the news that Harvard will not open the campus for the rest of the school year, I urged my parents to book me a ticket to China immediately. Around 70% of the students at our school are boarders (living at the school); therefore, my school was likely to follow the actions of colleges. I saw no reason to stay in the U.S. longer if the classes will be remote.
After everyone has practiced social distancing rigidly in China for two month, the situation in China became much better at that time. My parents, having immense confidence in the U.S., could not understand why America, with such developed technology and so much wealth, could not control the pandemic as effectively as developing countries like China. Thus, we waited to see how the situation in the U.S. evolved, and bought my tickets to China when the situation continuously worsened. However, a new policy from China restricted 80% of flights, and all three of my flights got canceled. I had spent approximately $20,000 buying booking these flights and the airplane companies have not paid me a refund. It was also very hard for me to book those tickets, since all of the flights in May, June, and July on the airplane companies’ websites were all booked up. A friend of my father told him that he has some friends selling tickets, but it cost $26,428 buying a one-way economy class ticket from New York to Shanghai, and I was not going to spend that much money. Around this time, my boarding school closed. Since I could not get a flight back to be with my family, I am now staying with a family friend in New York.
"I could not get a flight back to be with my family."
However, even though these are trying times, there are some good sides of the pandemic to me. My school schedule has changed due to the remote learning so that now we only have classes from 8am to 12pm. I also have more time to connect with my friends and try things that I have always wanted to do but haven’t done, such as making music videos.