Faith and hope, life goes on for foreign students in Wuhan

The exterior of a building in Wuhan is lit up with words that read "Wuhan, stay strong!" on January 31.

WUHAN, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Hafit Alaqouri loves playing sports and jogging, but he has not been able to work out for a few days. The Libyan student in Wuhan has hunkered down as the city battles the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Home to about 11 million people, Wuhan is also a city of universities. It has over 1.2 million students in its universities and colleges.

The city was locked down on Jan. 23 in an effort to slow the transmission of the virus 2019-nCoV, which has infected 11,791 people across China and led to 259 deaths so far.

During the mass quarantine, Alaqouri, a computer science student at Hubei University of Technology, passes the time watching movies and playing video games in his room.

"The international center in the university shares a lot of English articles, telling us how to protect ourselves over the epidemic. As for me, I bought a box of surgical masks. And I open my window for 20 minutes in the morning. Before every meal, I wash my hands carefully," he said.

"I have also bought enough food, including spaghetti, rice, flour, tea and vegetables, that can last for a month," he said.

"My family in Libya are worried about me, and asked me to go back home. I told them not to worry and promised to have video calls with them via WeChat every day," he said.

Amid the crisis, many overseas students have chosen to stay in Wuhan to tide over the crisis along with the local people.

Vera Syrvasova, from Russia, is a public administration graduate at Huazhong University of Science and Technology. She came to Wuhan for an exchange program in 2017 and fell in love with the city.

"My first time in the city of Wuhan was spectacular. I loved the rich culture and I fell in love with the food here. The local people were very nice and welcoming. Everyone would try to help me especially when they realized that I don't speak Chinese," she said.

Syrvasova chose to come back and get her master's degree in Wuhan. "Basically, Wuhan has become my second home. I love this city," she said.

"This is an unusual winter. I'm taking the time to work on my paper. My Chinese teachers and students have kept in touch with me. I believe the virus will be soon defeated," she said.

Huazhong University of Science and Technology has about 2,025 overseas students, among whom 1,046 now remain in Wuhan.

The university has distributed masks to overseas students, with more available on request. Though it is the winter holiday, campus grocery stores and two cafeterias are open to meet the needs of students, said Huang Chao, director of the overseas students department of the university.

The student dorms are disinfected on a daily basis, and the school has stepped up the management of students coming in and out of the buildings. For students who do not live on campus, they keep in touch via email. All students have been reminded not to return to school early, said Huang.

Uzbek student Mirsodik Mirjamilov, a freshman at the China University of Geosciences, has spent six months in Wuhan. In the city-wide lockdown, he has managed to stay calm.

"China has encountered such severe epidemics before, but it found a way out pretty soon. China has deep pockets to develop an effective vaccine and its strength in the manufacturing and pharmaceutical industry will help it tackle the virus," he said.

"My parents were very worried after hearing about Wuhan. I video chatted with them telling them I'm healthy, and there is no need to flee the city. Many fellow students have chosen to stay here like me," he said.

"Life is pretty much in good order, and only the supermarkets have cut business hours. When I go to buy groceries, the staff check my temperature, and these measures are necessary and important. I believe all these emergency actions will be over soon. Go Wuhan! Go China!" he said.

Alaqouri made a birthday wish this week. "The wish is that my city Wuhan will soon return and everyone will recover," he said.

"I thought about changing my name to Wuhan, because I love this city. I want to tell the people here that they are not alone," he said.

Source: Xinhua

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