EWCA Chapters During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Alumni Office has reached out to EWCA Chapter Leaders throughout the Asia Pacific region to see how their members and communities are faring during the coronavirus pandemic. We have compiled the responses here that we have received thus far and will continue to update and add to the responses as we continue to hear from Chapters.

President: Blaine Baldwin
The APLP Chapter is fortunate to have active board members that represent nearly all 19 APLP generations. Participation at Board meetings in January and March increased significantly compared to previous meetings. Topics discussed at these meetings included the APLP website, planning for the next Global Pau Hana (this time to be held in a virtual online setting in May), and discussion of the COVID-19 impact on members as well as surrounding communities. A special Q1 2020 edition of The Navigator was published with a focus on the COVID-19 Pandemic, including various perspectives on COVID-19 written by APLP alumni from several generations.

Chapter Leader: Dona M. Cady
The Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP) Alumni Board and co-hosts The University System of Georgia Asia Council would like to thank all who participated in the ASDP National Conference, Understanding Asia, Asian Understandings: Perspectives Past and Present, in Atlanta Georgia, USA. Although our enjoyment may now be somewhat muted by current social distancing and these uncertain times, we are all continuing our commitment to the scholarship and collegiality that inspire and reflect the best of ASDP. And to this, ASDP Alumni efforts across the US have risen to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Faculty are working hard to move all on-campus classes to online delivery. Events, study abroad, and graduations are being cancelled or postponed, and some institutions are planning for full summer and fall online delivery as well. Through all this, ASDP alumni continue to infuse Asian studies content into the undergraduate and graduate curriculum and to educate not only students but also administration and elected officials about Asia.

One of our ASDP alumni and director of the University of Central Arkansas regional center, Nicholas Brasovan, sent a letter to an Arkansas senator this week regarding the use of racist terminology to refer to COVID-19. We are proud that through his expert knowledge in ethics and Asian Studies he was able to point out the harm caused to our community by the ignorance of racist and nationalist naming of the pandemic.

Chapter Leader: Hao Ping
Report submitted by Hongxia Zhang


Initiated by ZHANG Hongxia and coordinated and supported by GAO Song and 22 other chapter members, the Beijing Chapter organized an initiative to purchase face masks for East-West Center staff and students. Through the generosity of individual members, 6,000 masks were purchased and couriered to the Center, delivered just as the mayor of the City and County of Honolulu recommended that everyone wear a face mask when going out into public spaces. Chapter members have great memories from their time at the East-West Center and wished to keep staff and their families healthy and safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Many thanks to the members who contributed to this project: CHEN Ying, CUI Yue, GAO Song, HAN Song, HE Jifang, HE Lingqi, JIAO Jie, LAN Cuo, LI Lusi, LU Haoting, QU Pengcheng, SHANG Yuan, SHEN Gang, SHOU Zhenwei, SUN Ruibo, WEI Duan, Lani WU, XIE Lincan, XING Yi, YU Jie, ZHANG Hongxia, ZHANG Shouqing, ZHANG Xiaomin, ZHOU, Changwen.

Chapter Leader: Iraphne Childs
No opportunities to gather in small groups now for a while with the virus & nothing happening in Brisbane.

Chapter Leader: Sonna Belliappa Pemanda
India is in a total shut down of the entire country. There is a ban on movement and gatherings. We also are maintaining ‘social distancing’. Summing up, these are tough days requiring determination and tenacity from each of us. There is no likelihood of any meetings of the Association nor any activity in the foreseeable future. Wishing that you all are well and safe.

Chapter Leader: Abu Ekramul Ahsan
The members of the EWCA Bangladesh Chapter have been in self-quarantine, but initiated a drive to help selected marginalized families who have no earnings because they are compelled to remain home-quarantined and are unable to work. Approximately 350 in kind packets containing a combination of food and cooking items – an estimated one weeks’ ration per person in the family – were distributed on the 30th March 2020 to the target families, thanks to voluntary contributions from Mr. Golam Faruque, Mr. Rumi Billa, Mr. Naeem, Mr. Galib Kondoker, Mrs. Kakoli, Mrs. Nitish Debnath, Mrs. Masuda Begum, Mrs. Lina, Mr. Mehdul Islam, Mr. Badruddoza Kohndoker, Mrs. Sak, Mr. Tareq, Mr. Zihan, Mr. Mostafa, Mr. Shafique, and Dr. Abu Ekramul Ahsan.

Chapter Leader: Muhammad Ibrahim
Due to Corona Virus we could not do any activity.

Alumni Liaison: Mark Sheldon
Since late November, the Universities here have been on closure, all teaching and advising at distance online via ZOOM and other platforms. Late last year, it was the political protests, social unrest and police siege of several campuses, especially CUHK and PolyU, then the coronavirus outbreak and public health crisis. We are still in these closures, almost a community-wide lock down. No public events, classes, schools, kinders, etc. are open or taking place. Now a new surge of imported cases, causing further travel bans, closures and postponements, likely at least through May. We are at 356 cases, 4 deaths and 100 recovered, returned home after hospital treatment (as of March 23, 2020). We are on the brink of a community outbreak and still hoping to prevent such a catastrophe. The new imported cases are travel related for the most part, also HK residents’ evacuees from Hubei, and the return of many HK students from the US, Europe and the UK. I expect further spikes in new cases in the coming few weeks.

We have very big problems to face in Hong Kong and in Hong Kong higher education. The mechanisms and infrastructures of international education and exchange have basically collapsed. It will be likely 2-3 cycles before significant recovery, if ever, and return to “normal,” whatever that now means these days in Hong Kong.

Our political and governance crisis here is fundamentally unresolved, now merged, mutated if you will, with the coronavirus outbreak and public health crisis. When the virus wanes, the political protests and demonstrations will surely return, re-emerge, likely with new force. The political calendar of June 4th, July 1st and the September Legislative Council (LEGCO) elections will soon be on us, a political calendar imperative . . . so prepare for more complicated and confrontational days in Hong Kong. Both crises are far from over.

Chapter Leader: Amin Abdullah
Report submitted by Irid Agoes
During this difficult social distancing time, EWCA Jakarta Chapter decided to start monthly online discussion. The first Zoom discussion topic was on Coronavirus Pandemic.

The result of the first discussion:

  1. EWCA in Indonesia (KALEA) will be active in organizing and contributing to those affected, in the form of donating PPE, funds and basic food supplement.
  2. Actively fighting hoax on COVID-19 information and campaigning positive attitude in social media, documenting and compiling all of the above activities using #EWCA Jakarta and # KALEA both in English and Indonesian.
  3. Using social media, encourage members to be active to campaign in activities of the member’s passion and field such as: Art and Musical Performance From Home, suggested by Amin and Cutting Used Mask suggested by Lita.

Plan for the next online discussion: a) Use of religion and how to accelerate curbing of COVID-19; b) KALEA response toward Indonesian Government COVID-19 policies; c) Usage of the existing grass root groups strength at all levels in mindset change to handle the impact of COVID-19.

Chapter Leader: Nirendra Maske
The EWCA Kathmandu Chapter does not have any specific activities to report for the First Quarter( January – February – March, 2020), due to political crises, and later due to COVID-19 Epidemic (March 8, 2020 onward). COVID -19 – 0 for Nepal on March 8, 2020. Today (April 16, 2020) it stands at 16, with no deaths. The country was under Total Lockdown from March 25, 2020, and has now been extended to May 15, 2020. As we have no medical professionals in our alumni, our direct contribution to the community in need is limited. However, our alumni have helped in contributing to the relief fund and providing food to the needy and donating blood.

Chapter Leader: Sarosh Bana
I do hope all of you, along with your families, are doing well and successfully riding out the coronavirus storm. India went into lockdown at a very critical stage, but the situation was challenging enough to bring the entire population of 1.3 billion under quarantine. There’s not much anyone can do but wait things out and hope for the best. But in a country like India, the poor bear the brunt of all manmade or natural calamities and things have already become rather precarious for them. The virus proves itself more lethal under the circumstances.

Chapter Leader: Bill Armbruster


Ten people braved the threat of the coronavirus on March 10 to attend a dinner at Best Sichuan to hear our guest speaker, NYU Professor Rochelle Almeida, discuss her hilarious travelogue/memoir The Year the World Was Mine: An Anglophile Hits a Half Century, about her travels around Europe and India during the 2008-09 academic year when she was teaching at NYU London and traveling on budget airlines and staying at youth hostels during her long weekends and holidays. The attendees also included a surprise visitor to New York, EWC Leadership Program senior manager Christina Monroe. We were expecting to have EWCA President Amanda Ellis as one of our speakers, but the UN cancelled its meetings that week of the Commission on the Status of Women. Joviana Guterres, an alumna from Timor-Leste, also cancelled, as she was planning to be in New York for the same meetings as Amanda.

Chapter Leader: Barbara Bornet Stumph
Barbara Bornet Stumph shared an article written by her 102 year old research historian father, Vaughn Davis Bornet, that appeared in The George Washington University Columbian College of Arts & Sciences History News Network on March 26, 2020.

Can We Build On Yesterday, Salvage Today – And Save Tomorrow?

There was life as it was lived in the United States before the Coronavirus; and as all know there is life after its arrival (from China—or wherever, it matters little). Our nation has been torn apart and not put together again. . . .

. . . I’m trying to envision a life like the one I had from birth ’til now being lived so very differently . . . Everything was working, it seemed. Things were “on time.” Products were available. Services could be gotten for the asking.

Now: well, let’s just skip “now” for now. It won’t be like today in a couple of days, will it? Change is the way things are going to be. . . .

. . . It’s time to give, to share, to “think outside the box.” Members of our own family have experience in doing that. Let’s Unite. Let’s lick this. We’ll be patient, and innovative, and use our imaginations. And relax a little. I just know that we can come out of this united; maybe not better; but not licked!

Chapter Leader: Jonathan Jacobs
I live in the City of Toronto, Canada, which has been hit quite hard by the effects of COVID-19 – My family and I left the City as all schools, workplaces and forms of normality started to close down. We moved to a cottage property a couple of hours north in the country. I have spoken with a couple Chapter members and they are self-isolating at home. It has not been easy on any of us. There is not much to share in terms of what any of us can do in our communities as we are confined to our houses and none of us are in the medical field, where a more direct impact on those in need could likely be made. The federal, provincial and local governments have closed all public places, stores, etc., except for essential services. Essentially, our world has shut down other than being able to go out to get groceries, gas, pharmaceutical products, and some other essential services on a carry away basis. At least where we are in the country we can go for walks in nature, fish in rivers, hike on trails without the congestion of anyone seeking the same nearby.

It’s not a good situation and I wish I had better news to report to you, but we are making the most of the situation as we can as a family with 2 young kids confined with us.

Chapter Leader: Won Nyon Kim
Report submitted by Eun Young Cho
First and foremost, our prayers for all the alumni and members and staff of EWC. Everything seems stalled, here in Seoul Chapter. Only the beeping sound of SNS warning is busy. We hope we could get back to the age Before COVID-19, as soon as possible. Till then, our best wishes and aloha.

Chapter Leader: Alice Seok-Hoon Seng
Report submitted by Siva Gopal Thaiyalan
The Singapore government has kept the situation under control, and I am thankful for the leadership. I hope the situation will not have too much impact on Hawaii, and life will return to normalcy sooner than later.

Chapter President: Claire Langham
The Aloha spirit expresses our caring about one another, and especially at this challenging time.

Starting around mid-February – Valentine’s Day ❤️ – my thoughts were on planning our EWCA Southern California (So CA) Chapter spring gathering. Lily Lee Chen had offered to host at her home. But too soon there was news of the coronavirus COVID-19, and then news of the cancellation of the EWC – EWCA International Conference in Honolulu at the end of June 2020. As you all know, the COVID-19 situation worsens very rapidly. Several chapter participants have informed me that they are keeping social distancing.

Times like this remind us to stay positive, physically distant, yet socially connected. “This too shall pass.” Meanwhile, I’m finally tackling solitary back-burner projects, smiling at circulating humor via email, and reminiscing by sending you a group photo from our Dec. 2019 EWCA So CA gathering. Also – thanks to Geeta Brara for compiling contact information of our chapter participants.

My ALOHA to others at the EWC. Minimize risks, stay healthy & safe.

Chapter Leader: Chanthavong Saignasith

The message from EWC president Richard Vuylsteke with EWC updates regarding COVID-19 was forwarded to all EWC Alumni in Laos. So far, EWC Alumni in Laos are free from COVID-19.