Stronger, together

We will stand by you!—Foreign teachers in China during the outbreak of COVID-19

Source: China Education Daily

The Spring Festival of 2020 has become an indelible memory for many people, including foreign teachers who work and live in China. In the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, many remained alongside their Chinese neighbors, showing care and offering help in their own way.

At the Shanghai University of Medicine & Health Sciences, 13 foreign teachers and their families stayed in the city during the outbreak. One of them, David Talbert, signed up to become a health focal point of the school. Every day he collected his colleagues’ body temperature and reported the results to the school. “As a medical teacher, I am confident that we will win the battle against the virus. During the period of self-isolation, I had time to pick up new skills: cooking and braiding my daughter’s hair,” Talbert said with a smile.

Kabeer Haroon Ali, a Pakistani teacher at Shandong Institute of Commerce & Technology, cancelled his planned journey home to attend his brother’s wedding, and instead signed up to join the school’s infection task force. His job included assisting the drafting of a campus infection prevention and control work plan, helping school health service staff to carry out daily disinfection of student dormitories, keeping close contact with international students who remained on campus, and helping to deliver groceries and protective gear to them.

When China was in its critical moment of the fight against COVID-19, vice chancellor of New York University Shanghai Jeffrey Lehman decided to fly to Shanghai from New York. His suitcase was fully packed with various kinds of medical supplies like protective suits, sterile gloves and electronic thermometers. After handing over the supplies to the University’s logistic office, he immediately get down to work, seeing to the implementation of prevention and control measures in the University.

Sonia Barghani, an American teacher at Soong Ching Ling Kindergarten in Shanghai, wanted to help children to study at home. She produced a series of videos with fun animation and songs. One of them is titled “Being Healthy”, which tells kids why people will get sick and how to wash hands properly.

Benjamin David Ceary is an American teacher at North China Institute of Aerospace Engineering. He was greatly inspired by the touching news reports that reveal the real life of Chinese people fighting against the epidemic. So he and his wife translated these articles into English and asked his families and friends in the US to post them on Facebook. “Chinese people will eventually win this battle. We want to show my friends the good hard work Chinese people have been doing and tell them what is really going on here,” said Ceary.

William N. Brown, an American professor at Xiamen University who recently received the 2019 Friendship Award granted by the Chinese government, published an open letter to people in Xiamen. He said, “Chinese people’s tremendous courage and strength to conquer difficulties is the reason why their civilization has lasted for thousands of years. And now, it will be the reason why they will overcome the current crisis.”

In an article published online, Fleur Chabaille-Wang, a French teacher at Beijing Foreign Studies University wrote, “The world is a big family. When the virus is threating your health, it is also threating the health of the entire human race. We will be here standing by the Chinese people. Stay strong, Wuhan! Stay strong, China!”

“During the outbreak of COVID-19, I have seen Chinese people exhibit exceptional tenacity and resilience in combating the virus. They don’t complain, but try their best to find a solution, and they’ve done an incredible job. I believe this crisis will bring people even closer and make the country stronger,” she said.