Photographer:Fotograaf: Flickr / Mitha Putri
MAASTRICHT. A Dutch carnival song about the coronavirus and Chinese, which was broadcast by Radio 10 DJ Lex Gaarthuis, led to a lot of criticism from various Chinese-Dutch organisations. They felt it was causing hatred and discriminating. It was even reported to the police. Various national media wrote elaborately on the matter with long stories about discrimination against people of Asian origin. What about Asian students in Maastricht?
“Fucking Chinese,” Weiyi Lu from Shanghai heard when she landed in Schiphol at the end of last month for her bachelor’s of International Business at the UM. An awful first experience with the Dutch, “but since then, there have been no more nasty situations.” She even makes jokes about it with her fellow-student Candy Lu. “If one of us coughs during a tutorial, we say laughing: ‘no worries, it’s just a cold’.” Candy Lu: “I was born in Taiwan, but I grew up in the Netherlands and I don’t notice any difference with before. My parents do. They went cycling in Eindhoven recently and a boy of about ten year’s old shouted: ‘The virus is here’. My landlord made a remark when I returned from my exchange in China: ‘You didn’t bring anything extra with you, did you?’ Those are jokes; I can laugh about them.”
Weiyi Lu: “There is great panic in Shanghai. I stayed inside as much as possible. Everyone wears face masks for protection.” It was the same in Singapore, says exchange student at SBE Zane Ng. “There is a proper run on face masks and non-perishable products.” He has been in Maastricht since the end of January and hasn’t had any negative experiences. “People are very welcoming here.”
Even wearing a face mask, you can go out on the street, says Chuya Feng from China. He has been in Maastricht since September, for a bachelor’s of Economics and Business Economics. “I sometimes wear a face mask if I go to places where there are a lot of people. I am mainly afraid of people who don’t know they are sick. But even with the mask, people don’t act differently than they normally do.”
“As yet, I haven’t had an awkward experience and if I ever do get a stupid remark, I would ignore it. That is the politest way,” says master’s student of Public Policy and Human Development Simone Wei Luo. He is of Chinese origin, but refers to Italy as being his home for the past twelve years. “I don’t see discrimination as my problem, but as theirs. Whether it gets to you or not, depends on how strong you are yourself.”