When two art students from different provinces received admission letters from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, the story of the friendship they forged during the COVID-19 epidemic went viral online.
Qu Xian, 17, is from Liuyang, Hunan Province, and Wu Yuwen, also 17, is from Wuhan, Hubei Province.
They both came to Beijing last year to attend a preparatory school for the college entrance exam for art students.
Qu said, "I came to the school in Beijing in June 2019, and she came a month earlier than me, but we did not get to know each other until December."
In January, as the COVID-19 outbreak emerged, the preparatory school announced it was shutting down and asked students to go back home and study remotely.
However, after Wuhan, then the epicenter of the virus, was placed in lockdown on Jan 23, Wu was unable to go back to her hometown.
"Although the school in Beijing would provide necessities if students chose to stay, I was worried about her," Qu said. "She would be concerned about her parents and afraid of being alone in Beijing."
Qu returned to Hunan and asked her parents if Wu could stay with the family so they could study together and help ease her anxiety. Her parents immediately agreed.
However, Wu's parents were concerned their daughter would be a burden on her friend's family.
Qu said her father convinced Wu's parents that it would be OK for her to stay. "They (my parents) picked up Wu at the airport and told Wu and her parents that we would provide the care and warmth she needed and asked her to enjoy herself as if she were in her own home," Qu said.
In Good Hands
In Wuhan, Wu's parents were working on the front line to curb the spread of the virus. Her father, Wu Hongyuan, a staff member at a middle school, was busy disinfecting and sterilizing buildings. Her mother, Yu Juan, a community worker, was distributing food and taking the temperatures of residents in communities.
"We're grateful to the Qu family," Wu Hongyuan told Chutian Metropolis Daily. "Thanks to the great care they took of our daughter, we could devote ourselves to our work."
Qu said her act of generosity came from her upbringing. "From childhood, my parents have influenced me profoundly, they taught me to be grateful to society and I have always wanted to do something for society," she said.
Worrying that the Hubei girl would not be accustomed to Hunan cuisine, the Qu family learned to make new dishes such as fish-flavored pork, and bought hot dry noodles, a popular Wuhan snack, to make her feel at home.
Qu also took Wu to try local delicacies, such as stinky tofu. "She fell in love with it," Qu said.
At home, Qu and her parents would discuss the outbreak with Wu, who said she was comforted by talking about the situation in Wuhan. "At first I was worried about my parents and the hardship on the front line. But after learning more about the situation, I felt greatly relieved," Wu said.
The two girls spent nearly two months living and studying together, until Wuhan lifted the lockdown in early April and Wu returned home by train.
Last month, Wu's family drove 350 kilometers from Wuhan to Liuyang to meet Qu and her parents and thank them for looking after their daughter.
The same month both girls received their admission offers, meaning they will spend four years on campus together at the academy in Beijing.
Wu said: "I have been admitted to the faculty of fine arts, while Qu was admitted to the faculty of architecture. I want to get to know more friends who are interested in the arts, and make every day in college fulfilling. In the future, I might want be a curator or work in museums."
Qu said she has dreamed about being an architect, and her favorite exponent is the Japanese architect Toyo Ito.
All admissions to the academy began online lessons from Aug 27. The new semester will begin on Oct 12, when the two girls will have the chance to reunite on campus.
(Source: China Daily)
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