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World Mag > WM Summer 2020 Resilient > Resilience, Our Story

Resilience, Our Story

On Christmas Eve 2019, my husband and I found ourselves in a beautiful, quaint cottage in the middle of nowhere in South Australia wishing for the blessing of becoming parents.
Patricia Khalil
Patricia Khalil

On Christmas Eve 2019, my husband and I found ourselves in a beautiful, quaint cottage in the middle of nowhere in South Australia wishing for the blessing of becoming parents. A few weeks later back home in Shanghai, we found out that our Christmas wish had been heard… I was expecting.

The year before, we had planned a ski trip with friends, so before we knew it, we were off to Nozawaonsen, Japan for our 10-day trip. A few days into our ski trip, tensions were starting to fill the air. The coronavirus was making headlines, and it was especially relevant for us as our home in Shanghai was not far from the epicenter of the virus in Wuhan. Shortly after, we learned that schools were closed in China and we would not be returning home to Shanghai as planned.

With our plans to return home derailed, on Sunday, February 2nd, we took the bullet train to Tokyo. Monday morning, we walked to an international medical center. It was there that we heard our 8-week-old baby’s heartbeat for the first time, saw the pulse on the screen, and saw the little nugget that was our little one. Love and hope cut through our anxieties and for a moment, the world stopped. We spent the rest of the month in Japan, as we mulled over what to do and where to go next.

When considering where to go next, we had to consider the care we would need for our growing baby and considered our family’s homes in Canada and Romania. We arrived safe and sound in Romania on a Friday evening, two days before the COVID-19 virus took a turn for the worst in Italy. It was now February 21st, just over four weeks since we had initially left Shanghai. We ended up staying in Bucharest for nearly a month.

With the situation quickly escalating in Europe, on Friday evening, March 20th, we made a very quick decision to travel back to Shanghai where things were plateauing. Twenty hours later we were on a plane; we flew through Dubai and Singapore on our way to Shanghai, aiming to avoid the 24 high-risk countries (at the time) that China had classified, as that would make our entry into Shanghai all the more complicated. Each time we got off a plane, we checked the news. Emirates was to stop flying from the next day. Singapore was to close its borders to transit passengers a mere 6 hours after our departure. China eventually closed its borders a few days after we arrived.

How lucky were we to finally land in Shanghai at 9:30pm on March 22nd. Upon arrival, Shanghai’s Pudong airport had implemented thorough procedures for disembarkation, travel history interviews to class incoming travelers as high-, medium-, or low- risk, and COVID-19 testing. We were classed as low-risk and received green stickers.

We got through customs and made it to baggage claim just before 1am. Luggage in hand and smiles on our faces, we high-fived (yes, actually), and we made our way to the exit, happy that we would be able to take a taxi and get home for some much- needed sleep. We had been on the road for over 30 hours by now.

Somehow, we were funneled through to the yellow-sticker area, where buses to testing centers were organized by the district you lived in. We clarified that we did not have yellow stickers, that we were in fact the proud holders of green stickers and that we could take a taxi home.

We were informed that at midnight the procedure had changed, and we were one hour late to the taxi-home party. So off to the testing center we went, in the middle of the night. We finally arrived home at 4:30am on March 23rd after a 35-hour trip. This new mama needed some rest.

Even though we had both tested negative for COVID-19, we still quarantined at home for 14 days because we are teachers. In retrospect, we are glad we had to get tested, because at least we could enjoy our 14 days in the confines of our home without having to worry that we might develop symptoms during that time period. And our compound management company was amazing.

Mom and dad are so in love with their little world citizen already… their Australian, Chinese, Canadian, Romanian, Lebanese, Chilean nugget. Their international traveler who before her birth, has already been on three continents and in four countries (seven if you count transit countries), flown on nine flights, and fled a global pandemic. With a beginning such as this, who knows what fate holds for this world citizen growing in mommy’s belly.

Patricia Khalil Warren

AISB Alumna



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