Asian Communities

by Lily Nguyen

The sixth student to share her story is Lily Nguyen, an ICM exchange student from Vietnam who decided to stay in the Netherlands when the Netherlands went into lockdown.

Social distancing measures in The Hague.

What’s your personal experience been like during this pandemic?

In the beginning, everyone was focused on working together to find solutions to this pandemic, and ways to minimize infections. The impact of this crisis on mental health and psychosocial stability was not the focus of people’s thoughts.

However, after the many days of self-isolation, self-quarantine and social distancing, the emotional challenges are now definitely being considered – and also felt in personal attacks on Asian communities abroad. I myself have experienced situations of racism and xenophobia here in the Netherlands, though I managed to not give those narrow-minded individuals my attention, since I am not what they were claiming I was.

It is more important than ever to concentrate even more on our mental wellbeing and stability, not just our physical health.

What, in your eyes, is the biggest lesson we can learn from this pandemic?

Without reservation, we can say that the COVID-19 pandemic is the one of the worst nightmares of humankind, a tragedy disturbing systematized regulations and unravelling overwhelmed hospitals and unemployment organisations with great speed. Moreover, social distancing, being obliged to be away from your friends and your loved ones during this difficult time, is definitely not easy. However, knowing that the act of us staying home positively affects the environment may hopefully be able to soothe people’s souls.

While this may sound like a sequence of “Mankind versus Nature, choose your fighter,” that is the wrong climate lesson to learn from this catastrophe. We are inevitably in this together! Humans are part of nature, not isolated from it, and whatever we do that has a harmful effect on the environment will also hurt us eventually. What goes around comes around. We must learn that we are all on this planet together.

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