Written by Eleanor Liu, Contributor
The spread of the coronavirus has generated worldwide fear. Although the virus has largely been contained in China thus far, there are already reported cases in America and Europe. While there has been no significant outbreak in America, many of Furman’s Chinese students have been forced to face the consequences of the effects of the coronavirus on their families.
Motivated students have come up with creative ways to help in this time of crisis. Christy Litz, a member of and ally to the Chinese Students Association, has led efforts to raise awareness of the impact of the coronavirus on Furman’s international Chinese students and to collect medical supplies to send to China.
Litz lives with two Chinese students, whose provinces have been affected by coronavirus. She first began her efforts when her roommates expressed their concerns for the safety of their families and friends back home. The increase in worldwide fear over the unpredictability of the coronavirus has caused an increase in demand for precautionary supplies, including face masks. China has effectively quarantined Wuhan, and other countries have taken necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. However, there are still numerous obstacles that Chinese people face, including those who aren’t in China at the moment. “As Americans, it is hard to understand the position in which Chinese people in America find themselves today,” Litz said.
One of the greatest obstacles is a short supply of protective equipment. Due to the severity of the pandemic, the supply of masks has quickly run out, and many are left without protection against the virus. In attempts to ensure the safety of their relatives, the Chinese Student Association and the Center of Inclusive Communities—with the help of the International Admissions Office—initiated an operation to ship masks back to most Chinese students’ families. They mailed out twenty packages in the past two weeks.
Delivery has been successful in all regions except for the Hubei Province, the epicenter of the coronavirus.
Heightened security measures in Hubei have hindered the university’s ability to send supplies. “We have three students from Hubei (Wuhan), one whose box was sent back,” Litz says. Although the aim of the current mission is only to provide masks, the uncertainty of the coronavirus’ future trajectory creates worry for what could come next. Litz explains, “It’s not just a health impact, but it’s also an economic impact.” As the pandemic progresses, it is unclear what will be needed next.
Though the end of the coronavirus is still unknown, Litz still encourages students to “not let fear dictate everything” and to reach out to Chinese peers. The chances of the coronavirus reaching Greenville are especially slim, but there are still Chinese people in America, including students at Furman, who are profoundly affected by this outbreak. As a community, the least one can do is to support those affected and offer to help with mask donations. Rather than allowing fear to control your beliefs, Litz urges Furman’s community to “allow love and empathy to overwhelm you” and care for the Chinese community.