Baylor international students face adversity in midst of global struggle

After Baylor made the switch to online-only classes, many international students were left without a way to get back to their home countries, with some remaining on-campus in their dorms. Brittney Matthews | Multimedia Editor

By Lucy Ruscitto | Staff Writer

The recent pandemic has disrupted student and staff life across the nation and globally sending college kids home prematurely before the end of the semester. While some international students have places to come home to in the US, others at Baylor do not.

Baylor’s campus housed 725 international students in 2018, with the majority of these out-of-country students coming from countries such as China, South Korea and Nigeria. Additionally, Baylor’s average rate of the total international student population has grown to 9.4% over the last few years.

International students of all nationalities and years at Baylor have had to deal with the whirlwind of changes COVID-19 has brought to campus.

Chongqing, China freshman Jingwen Wang, who also goes by Sera Wang, is one of these students.

“In China, novel coronavirus is making people panic,” Wang said.

Wang said that due to the immense amount of flight blockage China has called to slow the outbreak, she currently can’t get home to her family in Chongqing.

“I’m very sad that many flights have been cancelled,” Wang said. “My family members also very much hope that I can go back to China. They are very worried about me.”

During the school year, Wang lived in an on-campus residence hall and is still living there presently in quarantine. She said she plans to live there until she can return to China.

Wang also said that her family and friends in her hometown have remained uninfected.

“A small number of Chinese people don’t want to go home to study abroad, but I can understand that China works hard to control the disease and protect people,” Wang said. “I am still very worried about my family. I hope that I can go back to Chongqing very soon.”

Other students who currently do not live out-of-the-country anymore but are originally international, such as Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia senior David Foo are affected by COVID-19 as well.

“I lived [in Kuala Lumpur] for 20 years until I came to Baylor for my undergraduate degree,” Foo said.

Like most university students currently across the US, Foo said the transition from in-person to online classes has been disheartening for him.

“With everything basically being cancelled moving forward, there isn’t much to look forward to anymore. All the events, all the excitement, all the anticipation for graduation, is now all gone,” Foo said. “It’s kind of difficult to set a routine when your home life is now also your school life which is also your work life. The environment not changing definitely makes it a struggle.”

Additionally, Foo said his family in Malaysia and abroad have been more affected by the virus than he is in Waco.

“Family back home in Malaysia actually had a quarantine mandated by government … and have been working from home,” Foo said. “They were way more prepped for it stocking up on food for the week before it happened. They seem to be fine and well adjusted to working from home.”

Foo also said that his cousin, while visiting Italy, encountered the aftershocks of the COVID-19 outbreak in the form of unjust racial profiling.

“My family and I are ethnically Chinese and people were getting aggressive or even violent towards Chinese people [in Italy],” Foo said. “She finally decided to fly back home with the Malaysian government’s assistance. So she is back in Malaysia now under quarantine, but at least she is safe.”

In countries with heavily affected COVID-19 pockets, Asian-Americans have endured backlash from those blaming them for the bringing of the virus to their countries.

Foo said that while living in Waco, he is thankful to have not yet experienced the type of aggression his cousin underwent in Italy.

“[It’s] crazy to think that myself and maybe many other international students have to be more worried about aggressive people than the virus,” Foo said.