"Doing Volunteer Work during Lockdown was Very Meaningful to Me"
When final-year student Xi Yang flew to Wuhan on 23 January to spend the Chinese New Year with her family, she had no idea the city would go into lockdown a few days later. Trapped for months in an eerie ghost town, she now had to complete the final part of her studies at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences - 8,500 km away in the Netherlands. This week, her lonely struggle in these dire circumstances came to a happy ending as she graduated after presenting her final assignment to a panel of lecturers online!
"When I left the Netherlands on January 23rd, I was going to stay in Wuhan for two or three weeks – it turned out longer than planned! During the lockdown I could pay full attention to my studies. Since I had nothing else to do, I had more time to write my Graduation Assignment (GA). The most difficult part was that sometimes the connection between me and the school did not work. Thankfully Myra (Qiu), Wittenborg's Manager Academic Partnerships, was always there when I had problems and gave me a lot of support and help.
"During the time in lockdown, in addition to writing my GA, I was also a community volunteer, helping to arrange and deliver supplies to the community. This experience was very meaningful to me."
Xi's final assignment research looked into "Experiential Marketing Strategies in China's Catering Industry". "Actually, I had started last summer and the survey was conducted from July to the end of September, so the data collection phase was completed last year already.
"During my defence I was very nervous, but both examiners were extremely nice, especially my supervisor, Adeyemi Banjo, who continued to guide and encourage me. Obviously, I cannot attend the graduation ceremony, which is very regrettable."
What does she miss most about the Netherlands? "The quiet and peaceful environment."
Life in Wuhan Now
What is life like now in Wuhan? "Wuhan is much better now. Although the lockdown has been lifted, there are still some restrictions. The pace of daily life is returning to normal. There are more people and cars on the street, but many shops are still closed, and service industries are also limited. Most people who do not return to work still prefer to stay at home."
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press