The BSSC Confucius Classroom has been a boon for local students and community members studying Chinese and for Chinese International Students wanting to study VCE in Australia.

Now, as the world anxiously watches and hopes for an end to the corona-virus (COVID19) outbreak, BSSC has a unique capacity to connect with stories of those impacted by the epidemic.

Juncai Lin (BSSC International & Confucius Classroom Coordinator) and his family were in the south of China celebrating Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) with family and friends when they heard news of the outbreak around 700 km north of their city.

“People across China became immediately cautious,” he says. “We stayed home for a week after the news broke, only going out to buy essentials and wearing masks when we did. We also were more careful—washing our hands more often.

“My home city has had only ten cases to date,” Juncai explained, “but people are still avoiding crowds and continue to wear masks if they leave their homes.”

Restrictions on travelling outside local areas remain in place and temperature checks are routinely done on those within these zones.

Juncai and his family had return tickets to fly back to Australia on January 28, just days before the travel ban came into effect—and he described the eerie emptiness of the roads and airport as they made their way to their flight.

“If you can imagine, it was a scary atmosphere and everyone on the flight wore masks for the entire trip.

“We are fine, but I worry about family in China—it’s mentally hard to be stuck at home and they have no idea how things will continue to develop. Numbers of people affected are still growing and there is so much the experts still don’t know about this virus,” Juncai pointed out.

With the end of the holiday for Spring Festival, students and workers across China expected to return to work and start back at school. All this has been delayed.

“Here at BSSC staff who have arrived from China have been asked to stay at home for a week.” Juncai explained. “But there is one of our new international students who is caught up by the travel ban and cannot leave China.”

This student joins 100,000 other international students who are unable to start university in Australia.

Juncai heard of one teacher who had come to Australia and whose parents live in Wuhan and described the immense mental torture of fearing you could be inadvertently carrying the virus—and who confined herself to her room in the rental house she shared once she arrived in Australia. Eventually tested in hospital for the virus, she was immensely relieved to be declared clear.

“And a colleague from another school was addressed as ‘Mrs Coronavirus’ by ignorant, but anxious students, which was so distressing for her.

“So this is mentally a really tough time for so many Australians with a Chinese background, and Chinese students and people working in Australia,” Juncai said