Global: Meet a High School Student in Fujian, China

Interviewers: Emily Feng & William Feng; April 14, 2020

The interviewee's name has been removed for privacy.

Online school has forced students to adapt their schedules and cope with isolation (China Daily/Reuters).

Could you tell us about how the pandemic has affected your life?

The coronavirus’ onset was a blur of emotions. When it hit, nobody had been prepared. We felt ourselves turning to hopelessness and worry even as our governments and communities implemented containment protocols. Much of our country tried their best to cooperate amidst the turmoil, but there was always a lingering sense of anxiety. What I’ve learned is that we need to always prepare for the worst. Families need to forecast for disasters as improbable as they may seem, because COVID-19 has opened our eyes to how horrifying they can be. Taking time to maintain medicine cabinets, and have a reasonable supply of masks/cleaning alcohol is a necessity.

Furthermore, I’m shocked by how much technology has helped us during this time. In my school, most of my work before the coronavirus had been on paper. We had a hefty array of textbooks, notebooks, and stationery, and our academic lives were imprinted on those pages. Now, with the coronavirus, we’ve transitioned to online schooling. Part of what makes these times really difficult is my upcoming exams. In China, there are two large exams that dictate important parts of our future: the high school entrance exam and the college entrance exam. Thus, as a rising freshman, now is the crucial period for me to study.

Unfortunately, online schooling has provided a host of distractions. Access to the Internet away from the supervision of my teachers has been a troublesome combination. To stay focused, I need a good schedule, and it’s become increasingly difficult as the days drag on. Staring at a screen begets boredom. Oftentimes, I try and step outside onto our balcony to get some sunshine, but the relaxation feels obligatory. I’ve become an animal in a cave: I temporarily step out but retreat back into darkness soon after. My life has become a 3-step dance: I study, eat, and then sleep. Repeat.

Throughout these times, I’ve grown to appreciate my friends more, and I’m sure all teenagers understand this phenomenon. Some things are better left unsaid to your parents. Friends can be more receptive to your worries and anxieties, because they understand where you’re coming from. I’m scared that once this is all over, I will have forgotten how to chat with other people. My friends and I typically spend break-periods chatting outside, gossiping about the latest school news or talking about nothing in particular. I miss basking in the sunshine and watching the grass wave to us. Personally, I’m left with a bitter dilemma: on one hand, I want to go back to school and talk with friends. On the other hand, I’m nervous for upcoming exams, and prefer the comfort of my own home.

"I miss basking in the sunshine and watching the grass wave to us."

When life gives you banana peels, we slip and feel the pain. Yet, when we get up, we see things in a different light. We gain perspective as to how we’ve wasted our time before, or how each of us are struggling together. I assume people who do not have to take either entrance exam are rejoicing at the moment: they can gain introspection, go outside, and withdraw from the productive culture that we’re always molded into. I hope that I can find these small pockets of joy in my own life moving forward.