How I Dealt with the Coronavirus – Joseph
When the COVID-19 started
January was Spring Holiday for China. I decided to stay in my current city of Langfang. Most people in China were not vigilant until February 1st, when the virus got serious, and government action escalated.
In terms of daily life, we saw that from February onwards, everywhere except grocery stores were shut down. I am a homebody, so I often like to stay at home, read books, watch TV, exercise at home, etc. The only place that shut down, that I miss, was my gym next door. I miss exercising at a place with so many features, but I would not go there, even if it was open, for fear of getting sick.
My work life has been affected. Normally, I teach at least 30 hours a week at a training center. However, we see all of them are shut down. While many Chinese schools and business are experimenting with online teaching, it simply is not the same as in-person teaching.
In my specific case, my own business of wen-connect.com developed a Modified Moodle platform to teach. That is superior to Zoom, Adobe Connect, etc. We are trying to make use of this downtime, but of course, it is not as fun as full freedom of movement around the world.
Recommendations I found
I was informed by my work and my girlfriend around the end of January that the disease was spreading. Thereafter, I sought government information and have been following their recommendations.
The basic procedures is to make sure your apartment is clean, and you wash your hands every time you enter the apartment. Rather than using just water, diligent hand washing involves at least ten seconds with soap and water, using all the parts of your hand.
When I go outside, I make sure to use designated masks. My particular mask does N95, and I wear a surgical mask underneath. In this way, I can be sure no virus gets in.
Because of the global demand, I have begun sending masks to people who need them in other parts of the world. Right now, DHL offers sending about 1 kilogram of cargo (about 200 surgical masks), within four days, to anywhere in the world, for about 100 USD of shipping fees. While paying for 100 USD for masks, and another 100 USD for shipping fees is a big cost, these care packages of 200 masks can make a big difference to those that need them most.
There are two top websites that I have used for information:
- World Health Organization, especially the daily Situation Reports: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
- John Hopkins University Case Tracker: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
The Chinese internet allows access of both these sites; both are also updated several times a day.This site is updated several times a day.
- Equally important, I would suggest NOT reading news articles, television shows, etc. Mostly they recycle the same information, or speak about information that is not relevant. The official government sites do a far better job at giving reliable, accurate and relevant information.
This Coronavirus period has been difficult for everyone. Many businesses have failed because they must still pay high rent, insurance, etc. but have no real income coming in.
Although the law specifies that February payment must be made in full, even if an employee is not working, many companies cannot or will not pay.
Although the government reaction is severe, I think it is an excellent idea that can help all of China conquer the Coronavirus within three months. The rest of the world will learn, the hard way, that this Coronavirus is easily spread, causes outbreaks weeks later, and will be difficult to eradicate entirely.
Hopefully, when each province outside of Hubei is cleared to work, we can go back to work, and use a small portion of our earnings to help those in Wuhan.
My plan is simply to go back to work in China. For the last five years, I work at a day job, in order to get a free apartment, good salary, insurance, and meet students regularly. In my free time, I write and edit material for curriculums, write short articles for the newspapers, and enjoy being the author of actual books.
I hope my life continues the way it has been for five years. Having lived in six foreign countries outside of the US, I can safely say China is one of the few places where foreigners with skills are welcome, have ample opportunities to formally learn the Chinese language, can marry a Chinese woman and have a family here, and have the economic means to work hard and eventually own their own apartment, business, etc. within a reasonable amount of time and effort. Some schools have also given good ways to deal with the new coronavirus, such as Suzhou International Academy and Ningbo Foreign Language School.
What I state for teaching in China
For those looking to teach in China, I can say the Chinese system is definitely different than a Western system. I can state a few things that have proven very valid:
- Wherever possible, get recognized certificates such as a regular college diploma, CELTA, teaching license, etc. While many Westerners in China often used forged resumes, credentials, etc. in decades past, China has done a great job vetting these credentials out. Always opt for top credentials:
- In ESL teaching, CELTA is a good basic measure, with high quality control. CELTA YL or DELTA will only help you more. Online TEFL certs, etc. are not usually worth it.
- In regular teaching, any state license or PGCE is far better than no teaching license. I know, these credentials are often critcizied, but they are worth the hassle.
- Never mispresent yourself as a “Doctor” “CEO” or “Superintendent” if you are not fully one. While some schools may turn a blind eye or even encourage such white lies, it can cause serious problems when people back home find out about it.
- There are ways to get Google, YouTube, etc. Really invest in making sure you can get up to date information.
- Similar to medication, many online services are priced according to the average income of a country. I have seen Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, HBO Online, Grammarly, MS Office, Adobe, BitDefender, etc. at a fraction of their costs in the West.
- Perhaps the best difference is the copyright law. Fair use in education allows for sites such as gen.lib.rus.ec, b-ok.cc, bookfi.net to access millions of textbooks, novels, magazines, research studies, etc. Printing presses can print and deliver inexpensively, at around 10% of the cost of the premium textbook.
- Really learn how to make beautiful PPT presentations. Although many Westerners feel PPTs are overused, many Chinese appreciate it as a value-add, and even see interactive, interesting PPT’s as almost a souvenir of a Westerner teaching, that they can review at home.
Of the six foreign countries I worked in, I think China has the most potential, simply because there are so many people who want western-style teaching, and have culturally valued education.
Within the next few months “this (Coronavirus) too shall pass”. China is currently the safest country in the world, due to their authoritarian containment measures. For those in China, we are eager to get back to work, being productive and helping others. Hopefully, Chinese factories can start making masks, medical supplies, etc. and be able to help other countries in need.
In the meantime, we are all using this downtime to rest up, increase our skills, get ready to restart the economy. Let us hit the ground running and make a big difference, when things start up again.
Executive Editor: Sophie Lin
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