Political Science student Johanna in Hongkong
“We have been in regular contact with our students in Hong Kong for some time now, and we are also in touch with the Foreign Ministry in Berlin in order to learn how its diplomats assess the situation. – For instance, we now know that everyone in Hong Kong must be prepared to produce their identification papers at all times,” says Hillmer, who keeps track of the LMU students in the region. Indeed, not so long ago, two German students were arrested because they did not have their passports with them.
Johanna, who is studying Political Science at LMU, had been attending Lingnan University in Hong Kong since last August, but has now broken off her stay. “The situation had become chaotic. Lecture halls were blocked off by barricades, public transport had become unreliable, and it was impossible to find out exactly what was going on. Then on Monday, we were informed by the university that the semester was being prematurely ended,” she says. “Prior to that, everyone was fully aware of the protests in the city, but it was possible to stay out of the way. Only on one occasion – as we left the cinema – were we caught up in a demonstration, in which tear gas was used.”
“From our point of view, the two most important things are that students decide for themselves whether or not they want to cut short their stay and, secondly, that they do not face any financial losses or academic disadvantages as a consequence of that decision,” says Hillmer. Johanna, who had planned to stay abroad for a full year, is now considering her options. Ideally, she would have liked to spend the rest of her year at a university elsewhere, and was looking forward to the prospect of being able to forget the untimely end of her prematurely terminated term in Hong Kong, but the pertinent deadlines for reassignment have already expired. “We are doing our level best to find ways to find alternative placements for the students affected,” says Hillmer. “So far, we’ve been successful in two cases.”
– And Jana is one of the lucky ones. She will soon be on her way to Seoul in South Korea.