Global: Meet a Middle School Teacher in Fujian, China

Translated by Emily Feng & William Feng; April 9, 2020

Interviewee's name has been removed for privacy.

Classes are recorded and uploaded online as a resource for students (The Washington Post).

Could you tell us about how the pandemic has affected your life?

When the coronavirus began to consume our world, everything felt placed on hold. It felt as if I were in a car, seconds before disaster—the world was both slowing down and lurching forward towards an inevitable collapse. Yet, as I worked through the whirlwind of chaos, I found time to reflect upon my own privileged situation. As a teacher in China, I had access to numerous benefits not available for others.

"...The world was both slowing down and lurching forward towards an inevitable collapse."

In some respects, it feels like my holiday has been extended. Although we’re trapped within our homes, I no longer need to deal with the hustle and bustle of normal life. The tempo of life has relaxed to a much more manageable pace: my schedule is flexible, I can spend more time with family, and the transition to online learning has been mostly smooth. No matter what, teachers will receive their salaries because there is always a need to educate students. Even PE has been virtualized!

Outside of regular class seminars and homework checks, we also recommend outside learning opportunities. Teachers are advised to give students a list of educational television shows, painting prompts, and ways to take care of their health. We understand that this period is trying for students, and their happiness is also of utmost importance. A downside to virtual schooling has been the growing gap between the top students and the worst students. The good students get better while the bad students get worse, which is understandable. Those who normally do better are the most self-motivated and/or have parents who push them to perform to their best capacity.

Lifestyle-wise, I don’t have to worry about securing basic needs, like food and water. In our neighborhood, there are designated volunteers who bring us packages weekly. For the most part, they have been excellent at following regulations: they always wear masks and gloves, and they routinely take our temperatures to make sure everyone is healthy. They are strictly prohibited from making close contact with people in their homes, and all deliveries are placed outside of residential areas to be collected later.

"Lifestyle-wise, I don’t have to worry about securing basic needs..."

Every day, our community also conducts a deep clean. Elevators, staircases, etc. are all wiped down and sanitized to prevent spread. Furthermore, there are strict rules on who can and cannot enter our neighborhood. The government has adopted this policy to make containing COVID-19 far more manageable. For example, if people want to go outside of the neighborhood, they must first check their temperature. Those who must leave for work must show volunteers a certificate from their employers. Moreover, people who are suspected to have COVID-19 must report their symptoms and initiate 14 days in quarantine. Our neighborhood volunteers remain especially attentive to the needs of these people, always providing food and taking their temperature.

I’m grateful for how much joint-effort has been placed into containing the coronavirus. Without an orderly set of instructions to operate under, the work of people at the frontlines—hospital assistants, nurses, doctors, etc.—would all be for naught. While there are always areas to improve upon, I’m proud of how our community and country has been responsibly acting in accordance with instructions. People in the streets always wear masks and avoid mass congregations. In my opinion, the world must come together to get stronger. All of our lives are connected; only by looking out for each other can we achieve real progress.