Transformed by a shared experience of community and lifelong friendships, Alumni of International House NY carry the I-House Spirit wherever they go. Below, a glimpse into life during pandemic in Hong Kong.
K.Y. Kwan ’15 (Chinese)
Occupation: Self-employed, with a background in socio-medical sciences
“I have mostly stayed at home with my family, and when COVID-19 is not that severe, go hiking or to some islands where it is less crowded.”
How have you or your family been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak?
Personally we have shifted our lifestyles mostly at home, minimizing our outdoor exposure and interactions with other people to avoid contracting the disease.
Outside, many businesses have been downsizing and cutting existing employees’ salaries. Everyone’s finances becomes less stable than prior to COVID-19. We donated extra face masks that we bought to our relatives and friends.
What are the most dramatic shifts in your community that you have observed?
People spend much more time at home and with their families; everyone wearing masks; toilet papers, masks, sanitizers were once hoarded for 2-3 weeks before supplies resumed; no one is traveling anymore.
People wear masks and practise social distancing responsibly. I miss interacting with friends, large gatherings, attending events around town.
What aspect of your culture and community has become more apparent in this difficult time?
Solidarity and patriotism…I am very satisfied with my country’s handling of the pandemic…I would say we wear masks and take the situation more seriously than most countries, since we have experienced SARS back in 2003. We understand the underlying health impacts and complications more.
When we were hit the hardest here (around late February to mid-March), people voluntarily minimized outdoor activities. This is unlike many other countries where local governments imposed compulsory measures in that regard.
What is the most difficult part of this experience for you?
The lack of communication with the outside world hits me the most. I try to overcome it by having video calls with friends from around the world regularly.
What is something positive you have taken away from this experience?
I see that many people are genuinely helpful and kind to each other in times of crises. I could feel humility.
How are you staying connected to others during this time?
Via video/audio calls, messages; and with cases more stabilized these days, face to face meetups finally. I’ve contacted with my close I-House friends from the U.S, Canada, India, Germany, Serbia, Taiwan, etc.
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