The last time I visited Wuhan was the summer before I started college, because we knew the summers would get busier and busier and we didn’t know when we would all have a chance to see each other again. For a week in August, I lived in my aunt’s apartment, a place I visited several times throughout my childhood and now regard as a home away from home. My parents and I, my aunt, my cousin and sometimes my grandfather (all on my mother’s side) would sit together on the living room couch and watch reruns of a Chinese TV show that I only half understood, but thoroughly enjoyed nonetheless. We visited my uncle’s office and I posed in his fancy desk chair, pretending to sign important documents. I interacted — somewhat awkwardly in my halting Chinese — with my grandfather, whose birthday we celebrated with a fluffy fruit-filled sponge cake. We ate. A lot. After homemade rice porridge and tea eggs for breakfast, we’d sometimes go out for lunch or dinner. We walked along the sprawling park near their apartment complex — the one filled with old ladies doing tai chi and families walking with their little kids or fluffy dogs. We saw the light up kites at night, that always soared higher than I thought was possible.
I imagine the park is pretty deserted now. My parents have been talking with our family in Wuhan almost every day recently, and they say that the city is essentially shut down. Only one family member is allowed to leave once every three days to buy groceries. The schools are empty. The streets, usually full and bustling with taxis, pastel colored motorcycles and throngs of people walking to work or stepping into a small family restaurant, are quiet. Honestly, I can’t fully envision what it looks like now. The Wuhan of my memory is always bustling — always full of people. And some of those people are the kindest and most welcoming I’ve met, who will house and feed me and who will always make sure I have house slippers or a sun umbrella if I need one.
Going about my daily life, caught up in the rush of classes and homework and orgs, it’s all too easy to forget that I have family back in Wuhan who are living in a world turned upside down. I feel like all I can do is hope that everyone stays safe. I hope that people will recover, the coronavirus will be contained and I will be able to return and visit my family. I know there’s many students at Wellesley struggling with this or similar issues, including ones who are unable to return to school or are currently in quarantine. So, I would just like to end with a message of support to everyone affected and say that my thoughts and my family’s thoughts are with you. I hope that this helps in some small way.