Hong Kong, the U.S., and COVID-19

Ka Hung Lee, Brian

Ka Hung Lee, Brian

Staff Writer

I still remember vividly when COVID-19 first hit the U.S., and I was so worried about the coming situation. I was probably the first one who started to wear a face mask in Tempe back in March 2020 because I experienced a coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong when I was small. Looking back from now, it was quite a bumpy ride, but I was fortunate to have many people who helped me throughout the hardship. 

One of my strongest memories before the lockdown period was when my friend, Jason, and I went to downtown Scottsdale to party, and I was worried because almost no one wore masks that night.  This strong impression was formed while riding in a Mustang convertible, which came from a free rental from Hertz. Incredibly, Hertz later on filed bankruptcy because of lockdowns and virus outbreak, showing how the pandemic impacted every part of life.

It was at that time I first started my Optional Practical Training (OPT) job at a casino, but it went into lockdown completely during April. Even though I was prepared, it still shocked me when you could see the fear (and unfortunately in the U.S. sometimes even racial issues/passive aggressive discrimation) in people’s eyes. The whole situation reminded me of those memories back in Hong Kong… Fortunately, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan were all able to avoid catastrophic medical situations during the COVID-19 pandemic despite their links to China since people in these regions have a good understanding of virus prevention policies based on their experience during the 2003 SARS epidemic.

During the lockdown, I stocked up on a lot of food that probably would have allowed me to stay home for 2 months. I took advantage of the time during lockdown and learned how to do photo editing. I also built an online clothing brand to showcase my ideas in streetwear as well as eCommerce operations. While I was happy and busy starting my eCommerce business, one of my good friends from ASU passed away suddenly. His name was Paul, and he was a non-traditional student at ASU. He had just retired from the Veteran Affairs Department after working over 30 years serving others, and he decided to go back to school and become a politician later on. We knew each other through an ASU study abroad trip in Ireland, and we had become good friends since then. We had a lot of good memories together, and it was such a pity that he passed away at the age of 53, which is still considerably “young” in modern day society. 

Soon after this tragedy, I got another job at Amazon, and I shifted all my focus to my part time jobs as well as my eCommerce business to forget the pain from my good friend’s sudden passing. 2020 was a special and difficult year for everyone due to various reasons. I learned a lot about the nature of life and happiness during this period. And I now believe that my friend, Paul, together with my great uncle, who passed away in January 2020, will live happily in heaven and be my guardian angel wherever I go.

Last but not least, I was “happy” that the COVID-19 pandemic challenged me to apply for Thunderbird. I learned a lot more about myself during the depressing lockdown period. (Luckily, I could go out as an essential worker working for Amazon soon after.) This is actually only part of my COVID-19 story, but I would stop here and leave the opportunity for other student writers at Thunderbird to share their COVID-19 stories!

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