SYDNEY – Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and the industrial hub of central China, is home to 11 million people.
To people outside of China, Wuhan sounded like a rural town out in the universe. It feels like I should be embarrassed when people asked where I am from. But I am proud of this city and to me, I belong in Wuhan.
You probably hadn’t heard of the city until last year when coronavirus was spotted in my hometown. It was a shocking moment for all the world, as social distancing and wearing masks became mandatory in our lives.
Of course, people criticized and blamed this city and its people, saying it all started with my hometown – the vibrant city of Wuhan.
News swept around the world as this city became known as the ‘virus factory.’
“So this is where coronavirus came from,” or “the home of covid,” you might say.
Yes, it is potentially where everything was started, but it wasn’t a city full of viruses, it was a city with love and spirit. It was a city where all of its people were united in annihilating the virus.
It was where people sacrificed in order to provide better lives for the people of Wuhan, China and the world.
The people, the spirit and the sacrifices are the moments that make the city so magnificent, splendid and heroic.
It is tough handling the virus, but I have seen how strong the city was in combatting this deadly virus. From healthcare workers to small businesses and neighbors, everyone was working together, doing the right thing until it was over.
The virus destroyed this city, but I know that this is not a fearful city. The community and each individual are powerful and determined to take on initiatives.
Wuhan is a city that is well-known for its rivers. It is located where the Yangtze and Hanjiang rivers meet.
The city is surrounded by water and lakes, and the Hubei province alone has more than a thousand lakes. Growing up in Jiangan suburb, I remember spending my weekends at the Wuhan River Beach Park, always riding a bike along the Yangtze River.
From morning to late night, the River Beach Park is always alive. You can see people dancing, biking, exercising and walking with their friends in view of the Yangtze River and Wuchang, the suburb on the opposite-bank. Its crystal lakes are beautiful and at night, all the high-rise buildings lighting up the darkened sky is a vivid sight.
Wuhan is famous for its morning street food and is known for its breakfast food countrywide. Waking up, there will be always a street full of food. You can find everything from hot dry noodles and beef noodles to fried Chinese doughnuts and Siumai.
For me, Wuhan is the taste of my grandma’s food and my comfort foods. I love waking up early and wandering on the streets. Every bite has my own stories. It is also a way of supporting struggling local businesses, especially during the pandemic.
The ways people view Wuhan didn’t affect me much. I was always thrilled to tell everyone about life in my citiy.
But the pandemic made everything worse. Googling ‘Wuhan’ always results in ‘coronavirus’ or ‘where the coronavirus was started.’
The excitement and proud moments I felt for my hometown slowly transformed into guilt and anger.
So, is it where I belong, this place filled with viruses? Though I live in Australia now, I love to talk about my life in Wuhan because it is a city where everyone feels loved and that they belong.
I tried not to let it affect me much, remembering that Wuhan is – and always will be – a city full of life.
The moment I set foot into the city, I feel I belong.
For me, Wuhan is where my memories were established. It was where I could be myself and where I feel comfortable. More than home to me, Wuhan is a place that I want to be, a place that I can find myself and feel like I belong.
I cannot feel embarrassed about my city. I am proud of the fact that my hometown is Wuhan – a futuristic city where the economy, technology and infrastructure of the world will thrive.
Yuki Wang is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.