This is a behind the scenes story of Miaoxin Wang: How the COVID-19 pandemic affected an international student’s life.

I had never met an international student at Cal Poly until this project brought me to Miaxon Wang, a senior from Zhengzhou, China. 

As a senior myself, feeling robbed of my final college memories, I couldn’t be more grateful to have met Wang when I did. While I’m sitting here feeling sorry for myself that I won’t be able to dance at Mother’s Tavern again or cheers at Frog and Peach, or even properly sweat through my robe under the beating sun at graduation, Wang’s story gave me perspective. As an international student dealing with a multitude of concerns beyond anything I have ever faced, his resilience is inspiring and his ambition is striking. The passionate learner made me feel honored to even share an alma mater.

I had two Zoom interviews with Wang, where we discussed everything from his now even more limited job opportunities and the likeliness he gets to stay in the U.S, to his current emotional struggles and what losing graduation ceremonies means to him. 

Wang also got into detail about what China looks like right now, as they begin to resume normal life after the peak of COVID-19. According to Wang, everyone in China is “digitized,” and a personalized QR code is used in place of a credit card and the Chinese government is also using this system to contain COVID-19. 

“In China, the whole family only has a two-and-a-half-hour limit to go out. That’s how crazy it is in China, the way they control people,” said Wang. “I don’t know the consequence because my family never got into that trouble, but I’m pretty sure if you went out for more than two-and-a-half-hours, they could just deactivate your QR code and you wouldn’t even be able to take a bus or taxi or anything.”

The New York Times explains this much more in-depth, if you’re interested.  

Charlie Rice, my partner and trusty video-editor knew Wang before our project and is the reason we decided to feature him. They are both members of the Chinese Students’ Association here at Cal Poly. 

“I’ve known Miaoxin since my freshman year but it’s interesting seeing an all-new side to him,” said Rice. “I’m lucky enough that I can go through this crisis at home with my family. Being separated from them by an ocean would be excruciating for me yet he’s able to take it in stride. I have so much respect for him.”

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