“Sarah's” story is a composite based on multiple conversations the author has had with Third Culture Kids (TCKs) who have been impacted by the coronavirus in China and unable to return to China or continue with their schooling as planned.
Finally, I am a senior. For years I have wondered what my senior year would be like, dreaming of all the special events that would take place. Seeing and hearing about all the fun seniors have and the special things they get to do that last semester of school made me and my friends really look forward to it.
We’ve already taken our senior photos. I wore the beautiful dress we bought during a layover on our trip back to China last summer. It was a little expensive, but then again, I was going to be a senior and you’re only a senior once in your life!
Our family was on holiday in a neighboring country when we first heard about the coronavirus. After a couple of days, it seemed to be getting worse and worse. People not only had to wear masks, they had to stay at home. Every day we heard reports of the number of people being infected or dying in Wuhan.
We were about to go home to China that weekend, so we stocked up on as many masks as we could find. It turned out it wasn’t that easy. As I texted my friends, I found out that some had gone home to the US. Others were staying elsewhere. The ones still in China were trying to find ways to leave.
And then we were told by our leaders that we couldn’t go back to China now and that most likely it would be quite a while before we could.
Then I got a message from our school that the start of the spring semester would be delayed. Now that was OK; I wouldn’t mind an extra week of holiday. But as time went on and they realized that the start of the spring semester would keep being delayed, we started online studies. Or more accurately—lots of homework and quizzes. Sitting in a hotel room, week in and week out, with lots of homework to do and no friends, sucks. It really does. It may look like I’m in a holiday paradise—and yeah, there is a pool and really hot weather—but I spend most of my time inside.
I texted with my friends and every time we heard that the opening of school was delayed again, I started to get really upset. This is not fair! This was our, my, only chance to do the seniors’ trip and now it’s cancelled. Our only chance to do the fun traditions we have seen other seniors do year after year at the school. The sports tournament where we travel and play other teams from other schools was . . . cancelled.
And what about our graduation? They even keep changing the date for our graduation! Even though I am not the only one who has already bought tickets for leaving China, for me it will be leaving China for good since my family’s term of service is ending. I’ll be leaving to go to a country where I have barely been, even though it is my passport country, saying farewell to China, the country where I learned to walk and talk. Where I learned to read and write. The country I feel is my home.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. My last semester as a senior was supposed to be fun—and memorable. I was supposed to leave with my heart full of good and happy memories. I know that getting coronavirus is much worse than my disappointment. And I do know that there are many, many more serious problems in life, so I don’t want to complain or anything . . . but I still feel upset that my only chance to be a senior, and my last months in China were stolen from me.
As you pray for those impacted by the coronavirus, remember to pray also for the TCK’s—both the young ones and the ones whose time in China is running out. And pray for the youth you know who may also be facing similar disappointments as COVID-19 spreads.
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