An open market offers vegetables to residents in neighborhoods adjacent to Nanhu Lake, Hongshan district, Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, Feb 12, 2020. (Photo: chinadaily.com.cn)
China is currently experiencing a collective drama triggered by the spread of the coronavirus. This cruel test, the Chinese do not want to undergo it. They fight it with courage, selflessness and an extraordinary community spirit. What can be going on in the mind of a stranger who is caught in this epidemic? Nothing complicated, to tell the truth.
I have only been living in China since 2019. It is little time compared to other Guineans, but the value does not wait for the number of years and each one builds their representation of China based on their own experiences. With the coronavirus, my parents and loved ones began to worry a little, but I quickly reassured them. I am exactly where I need to be. In this kind of situation, one question always comes up: How do ordinary people experience an extraordinary event? In reality, nothing changes in our way of life but our brain integrates the probability that everything could change in an instant.
To my surprise, many of my Chinese friends asked me if I wanted to return to Guinea, and some showed me their understanding by anticipating my departure, while others even believed that I had already left! However, like it does for many foreigners, China is the country that welcomed me and gave new opportunities. Just as you don't abandon a friend in need, my choice was not to leave China at the first difficulty. It’s a firm and definitive choice, even ethical. Is this a truly courageous act? Absolutely not. Of the 3,000 Guineans living in China, no one has been repatriated to Guinea, and about 22 Guineans are living in Wuhan. In Wuhan, a whole prevention system has been put in place. At my university, which is in Hubei University, the authorities are doing everything to stop the epidemic: Access badge is necessary, temperatures are taken at the entrance, and the premises are disinfected regularly several times a day.
It’s a feeling of security and solidarity that I experience staying in China, precisely in Wuhan, especially seeing the sense of responsibility among the Chinese.
Being confined to the dorm doesn't mean being terrified of going out for a walk in the university yard, taking public transportation or shopping. Where I live, time passes slowly, far from media hysteria and even further from false news and crazy rumors.
The most important thing is to be connected to Chinese social networks and circles of friends. It is above all practical since it is a question of staying informed on the evolution of the epidemic and the rules to be respected. I was also impressed to see that hygiene and prevention recommendations had been translated into almost all languages. But it is also fun because I discovered the hidden life of my Chinese friends: Working in pajamas at home all day, inventing cosplay days for children or exploring a deserted metro during rush hour. Crowded places like shopping malls, cinemas, parks or restaurants are obviously closed to the public, but I can't help but notice that the fast food restaurants stay open and therefore we have a chance to kill the coronavirus with soft fries before spring really sets in Wuhan. While waiting for this glorious hour, the provincial capital ensures that we do not miss anything and therefore allows us to take a step back from the epidemic.
Chinese or foreigners from China, we are not paralyzed by fear of the coronavirus. We are animated by a positive attitude already turned towards the future and the many outings with friends that we will have to make up for.
I love China, I love Wuhan。
Nankouman Keita is master's degree student in the Department of Political and Legal Sciences in Public Law, specializing in public management at Hubei University in Wuhan.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.