Diary of Yani (1): Volunteering for the Coronavirus Battle | What’s Up China

By Wang Yani (Volunteer/nurse in Wuhan), translated by Li Xiaolin


This night is quiet.

This is a special Lantern Festival for me because it landed on the fourth day after my arrival in Wuhan, the city seriously plagued by the novel coronavirus. Normally, I would take part in grand Shehuo celebrations in my hometown Delong, but this year people gathered to help fight the epidemic rather than to celebrate. Everyone supports postponing celebrations because they would rather enjoy it without worries about infection.

The epidemic has become increasingly severe after it began spreading only a few days before Spring Festival. As a medical worker, I could not help but worry about my peers fighting on the front lines. As more and more people have been confirmed as infected, every Chinese life has been impacted by the deadly virus.


On the afternoon of January 27, I received notice that medical workers were being recruited to go to Wuhan and help. I was among the first to apply, and one of my colleagues told me to pack my bags and get ready mentally because we could set off any time. “No problem,” I assured her, with confidence that I would honor my word. However, I did not tell my parents about my decision because I didn’t want them to worry. I had been making video calls with my parents every day and only reminded them to avoid going outdoors unless necessary. My mother reported that she had suspended her dance activities.

The list of recruits assigned to support the front line was released around noon on February 4. My name was on it. The assistance team was led by Yang Yanhong, deputy director of the nursing department of our hospital. The schedule specified a ceremony to boost morale at 2:00 pm before setting off for Yinchuan at 3:00 pm to rendezvous with other medical volunteers before going into Wuhan together. I did not expect the schedule to be so tight, and I was a little concerned that I didn’t even pack. My colleagues told me to go home quickly and grab my things. I selected several pieces of loose and comfortable clothes, basic toiletries, and some cold medicine before hurrying back to the hospital.

At the ceremony, the head official of Delong County, northwestern China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and the dean of the hospital expressed appreciation for our willingness to stand up when the country is in need and urged us to take care and protect ourselves to return safe and sound. Yang, the leader of our assistance team and a member of the Communist Party of China, also made vows at the ceremony. Her words moved me deeply, and I became more aware that China has been taking the most powerful and effective measures available to contain the coronavirus. Wuhan is not alone because every Chinese person has joined the fight. I have no doubt about China’s bonding strength and power to defeat the virus.

Before our departure, my colleagues hugged us and told us to take care as they choked back tears. I could feel their worries but no hesitation or regret for making the decision. I have always been a committed person, so instead of worrying, I was filled with courage, determination and passion to fight. I knew I had made the right decision to risk my life to help my country.

Our hospital dispatched an ambulance to take us to the airport of Yinchuan, the regional capital. On the way, my brother called to ask where I was and why I did not tell my family about going to Wuhan. He found this out through social media posts. “I am determined to help,” I uttered. I tried to stay as calm as possible. “Don’t worry about me—just take care of our parents.” Shortly thereafter, my mother made a video call, and I could see her tears and hear her choked voice. She repeatedly stressed to take care and protect myself. I held back tears, smiled, and assured her everything would be okay.

No one is born a hero. We are daughters, sisters and mothers, but we are also medical workers. The white coats are our armor, and we never cower when the country needs us. I am not alone—every doctor and every nurse is my comrade, and we are all doing everything in our power to defeat the coronavirus!


Copyedited by Wang Yufan
Layout by Wang Hai

Read Yani’s other diaries:

Diary 2: Boy’s Haircut

Diary 3: Waiting for Spring in Wuhan

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