IOWA Magazine | 09-11-2020

Pages from a Pandemic Journal

An international graduate student in the University of Iowa College of Education shares her thoughts on living in America during an age of coronavirus and social unrest.
Yuchen Liu PHOTO COURTESY YUCHEN LIU Yuchen Liu, who's studying at Iowa to become a college professor, coped with being far from home during the COVID-19 crisis by sketching and writing in her journal.

University of Iowa student Yuchen Liu couldn't return home to Nanjing, China, when the coronavirus pandemic forced classes online this past spring semester. "There were a lot of worries, concerns, and uncertainties," she says, "so I wrote and sketched some doodles in my journal that expressed my feelings and emotions since everything started."

Liu, a Ph.D. student in the Foreign Language and ESL Education program at the College of Education, says the UI provided useful communication and resources to help her and other international students navigate through the challenging semester. "The University of Iowa had a very effective reaction to the pandemic," she told International Programs earlier this year. "From campus shutdowns to moving online, it has been cautiously exploring the best options for student life, and I think that it has been very supportive."

Liu has extended her time at Iowa by two years and plans to follow in her parents' footsteps to become a college professor. "I miss my home country, but I never regret [studying at Iowa], because I strongly believe that education makes a better person, leads to a better future, and powers a better world," says Liu, a community volunteer who has conducted research at Iowa to help English-language learners with and without learning disabilities. "We can't eliminate tragedy, just like we can't stop thunderstorms, but we hope to see the rainbow after the thunderstorm. We are changing our future in the way we want the next generation to see."

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Yuchen Liu offers words of encouragement for fellow Hawkeyes during the pandemic.

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