Interview: Due to escalating violence in Hong Kong, Mary K. (‘18) returns to Taiwan 

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[PHOTO COURTESY OF MARY K. (’18)]

Mary K. (‘18) is a college student studying at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. On Tuesday night, she came back to Taiwan due to the increasing violence between the pro-democracy protesters and the police. 
Describe the protests in Hong Kong. How does the current situation differ from what was going on, say, two weeks ago? 
Though protests were still going on two weeks ago, it was not as serious compared to yesterday. Protestors only went out during the weekends and it was mostly around the Hong Kong University as well as the ‘Central’ area. I rarely saw the protesters and the area around my school was very calm and quiet. There was no difference in my life, going to school. But, starting this week, protests heated up and police started to come into school as well. Students broke all the windows and glass walls and burned down desks and chairs. Police threw tear gas all over the campus and school canceled all classes until the end of this week. I was told to not leave the dorm at all.
What do your parents think of the situation? 
They are of course very worried. They were always worried, but when the whole situation started to heat up this week, they wanted me to come back to Taiwan as soon as possible. 
Why did you have to leave Hong Kong and what was the trip back like? 
I left Hong Kong on Tuesday night because I saw City University and Chinese University collapsing. According to the protesters, Polytechnic University and Hong Kong University were the next ones that they were aiming for. I was outside around the dorm last night, and on my way back around 11 p.m., I saw all the protesters running around blocking the roads and breaking stores. I also heard sirens from police cars heading towards our dorm. When I checked the protesters insider news, [it said that] at 6 a.m. the next day, they were planning to throw all the fire bullets and bombs that protesters created all over the dorm area, [to fight] against the police. 
Also, when policemen arrived, they started firing tear gas when I was outside. I ran back, but some of my friends saw car accident happening right in front of them, which was caused by smoke. That is when I knew our school was no longer safe and the next target was us. All of my friends booked the fastest flight right away and we started packing. As we were aware that the “big bomb firing event” was scheduled at 6 a.m., we knew we had to leave to the airport before then. We were under huge time pressure and everyone left around 3:30 a.m. to the airport, considering the possible traffic jam and blocked roads. 
People waited at least 5 hours; some even waited 20 hours for their flight. 
What do you think of the way that the protesters have chosen to express themselves? 
(Declined to answer.) 
Is “normal life” still possible in Hong Kong? 
Though I was going to school in a city where protests were happening everyday, it still felt like distant news to me. It was rare for me to see them live. But over the past three days, I was in the middle of the protests, being warned to turn all the air-conditioning off, closing all windows and doors to prevent smoke from coming in. 
I saw huge fire right outside my dorm and people were using metal pipes to break anything and everything they could. I was very scared and I can say it was a life-threatening moment. 
I think it is still possible to live a normal life in certain areas. Though the protest is getting bigger everyday, it is still impossible for all the protesters to cover every part of Hong Kong. While the protest is going on in some places, the other places are not affected at all. People do live normally there. But, it is true that due to the escalation, people have started going to grocery stores to buy food to keep in their storage, and the amount of stock in stores is decreasing.