Volunteers - who have introduced themselves via NYU Shanghai’s Instagram stories - are ready to help students order food and other items for their rooms, print and deliver essential documents, or drop by for a morale-boosting window visit.
International students have begun trickling back to Shanghai, and, as part of the city’s COVID-19 control protocols, are and will be completing a required 14-day quarantine in various hotels around the city. But they won’t be alone in spirit.
Around 60 NYU (Shanghai) students are volunteering to support their international classmates through their travels and isolation periods in these coming weeks.
The idea came from Lancelot Qilin Zhang ’21, who dubbed his initiative the ‘Homecoming Room of Requirement,’ a Harry Potter reference to a secret room at Hogwarts that only appears when someone is truly in need of it.
“Very often we just get carried away by our own busy lives and forget to provide the support and companion[ship] that we could easily offer one another, ” says Zhang. “What I hope to do is to help people recognize that there are simple but significant things we can do for each other.”
Hoping to complement the efforts of the NYU Shanghai Student Life staff and Orientation Ambassadors, Zhang and the volunteers have already made window-side visits to students in quarantine, passing along essentials including clothing, food, and health supplies from the Student Health Center.
Sophomore Stephanie Anderson ’23 takes a selfie with an armload of goods dropped off to her by NYU Shanghai Student Life.
“Lancelot brought me some clothes, which was so generous. It worked out that we were the same size,” says Mazur (one of the students in quarantine). He also appreciates the quick action taken by the school to help students have access to better WiFi. “The school rapidly bought these little devices for us to use and sent them to us over the past 48 hours and helped us set them up.”
Even while in quarantine, Mazur is finding ways to help other students who are anxious to get back to Shanghai, beyond his duties as an Orientation Ambassador. “Even though the last day of the job technically ends tomorrow, we're going to keep working with first year students the whole time, because this is an ongoing process.”
Mazur encourages students coming back to Shanghai to stay as organized as possible before making the trip back. “You can do it. Even if you think you’ve checked something, check it again—if you call some place to see if they do [the COVID tests required to board a flight to China], call them again. If you think you have enough tests, do two more. Call the airline just for reassurance that you’re all set.”
1. A surprise visit from friends on the way with supplies.
2. In quarantine, Declan Mazur ’23 models the clothes delivered to him.
As a senior, Zhang says he feels closer to graduation every day and doesn’t want to miss out on meeting new friends before his time at NYU Shanghai comes to a close. “I need international friends around me! The campus feels incomplete without them here. I haven't even met most current students—imagine all the amazing people and fascinating minds that I will have missed if I don't even try—I can't even sit still on this thought.”
“I believe in the bonding power within a group that makes every effort to help someone else. I think these are the things we as a community need in a semester where we all cover our faces,” says Zhang. “We are not strangers.”