Parents of Chinese international students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have had to watch from afar and rely on social media platforms like WeChat to monitor how their children are handling the continued spread of COVID-19.
Relieved at the “prompt reactions and timely decisions” being made by campus leaders in Madison, a group of parents decided to act. They commissioned one of their own to write a poem expressing their gratitude in the traditional style of Chinese verse, and then sent it March 19 to Chancellor Rebecca Blank.
Accompany the poem was a letter signed by 88 China-based parents of Badger freshmen.
“And hundreds more wanted to add their names but we ran out of time,” noted Wisconsin China Initiative Director Jerry Yin, who worked with his wife, Hong Zhou, to collect the names and pass them on to the Office of the Chancellor. “We have remarkably active parents in China who talk through ‘WeChat’ groups and keep close tabs on both their students and campus news.”
The letter praised decisions to make sure that international students stranded in the coronavirus quarantine and unable to fly home to China would continue to have access to lodging and dining halls. The letter furthermore said the flexible and transparent messages coming from Chancellor Blank served to alleviate “parents’ concerns and worries.”
Attached to the letter was the following poem, written in Chinese by the father of a current student and translated by the Wisconsin China Initiative into English. It is printed here with the knowledge and permission of the Chancellor:
Gratitude for Our Chancellor
A warm tone of compassion,
As an epidemic descends.
Her humane decisions resonate with the students –
They have a place to stay and a place to eat.
Not needing to fret about necessities, they can be confident in their studies.
A brief statement so heartfelt,
Reaches the students who have traveled so far and with such virtuous intentions.
The virus has no feelings but people do.
With a mother’s sense of concern, she worries about the people’s worries,
Bringing comfort to an anxious parent on the other side of the world.
A thankful greeting sincerely offered,
And wishes that in the midst of all your busy work you remember to take care of yourself.
We reside in different countries but the same global village,
Our hearts are linked, and we bask in the light of the same sun and moon.
Our distant students tie us close –
This epidemic will eventually fade, but our friendship will last forever!