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In the coming weeks, in a spinoff of our ‘UI at 150 & Beyond’ project, Editor Jeff D’Alessio will catch up with University of Illinois grads in corners of the globe affected by the coronavirus.

Up first: 2013 graduate transfer SAM McLAURIN, who was awarded the ‘Matto’ Award for his hustle off the bench for John Groce’s first Illini basketball team. Four years later, the teacher/coach left for a new adventure, when he was named program coordinator at the United States Basketball Academy in China. That’s where he checked in from this week.

“I am currently living in Shanghai, China. The pandemic began during the Chinese New Year holiday break. I was stranded in Bali, Indonesia, for a month without knowing when I could safely return to Shanghai.

“After my visa expired in Indonesia, I went to wait for answers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. There is when I started to notice what the ‘new norm’ would be like.

“Every public location you go to would require you to get your temperature checked, and they would give you hand sanitizer before entering. In Shanghai, it’s pretty much the same.

“The only difference here is that they also require that people wear N-95 face masks at all times.

“My advice to my Illini family and friends back home is to try to practice social distancing as much as possible.

“We all have to do our part to try to minimize the spread to our elderly and most vulnerable.”