Once again, I am on my phone to hear how things are faring in Luzhou.
One of the Wuhan doctors, who in December first blew the whistle of the virus via text messages to friends, has died. If you have been keeping up on his story, Dr. Li was criticized by Wuhan police and government officials after he contacted some of his health professional colleagues and friends about a patient with a SARS-like illness. Within a few hours, his texts had been forwarded by those who received them, reaching further into the populous. Wuhan police came knocking on his door, admonishing him for spreading rumors and causing unnecessary panic. He was asked to sign a statement he was illegally spreading lies and untruths, and would stop doing so, before he was allowed to be released. No signature; no release. He signed under pressure and continued with his medical care duties in a hospital that, soon after, began filling fast with virus patients.
He contracted the virus, even passing it on to his family members, after caring for so many patients. From his hospital bed, he gave several interviews on CNN before he finally succumbed to pneumonia. The country’s citizens are currently up-in-arms about his death. They are sending messages of outrage, anger and condolences to his family. Heartbreaking!
A morning note from one of my seniors
I sent this message to one of my graduating seniors yesterday. She is in her hometown, still waiting to return to school by Feb. 24. Her reply came this morning:
Connie: The virus is spreading. What have the health officials told you? Our news is reporting a lot. I worry about you and your family. My mom says try to keep healthy and safe. Me, too!
My student: Thanks, Connie and your mom. Children and young adults are not susceptible to the virus.
Oh, honey! That is an absolute falsehood, although it is true that a majority who are younger and have the virus survive after the illness has run its course.
My College’s Plans for Lindsey’s and My Classes the upcoming semester
Before we left, Lindsey and I had already received our courses for this coming semester.
Lindsey was to continue teaching conversation to 217 sophomores with a specialized primary school methodology education class (about 30) who were chosen from another department. She’d taught them before and the school was so pleased with the results that the leaders agreed she should do it again.
I was to have my usual 5 classes of freshmen with about 30 extras who had requested a change of major to English Education. The total was 270. Also, a teaching methodology class for all the sophomores, which totaled 217.
Our school is strict about students being in the classroom, studying.
In cases where a teacher does not teach due to official conferences or educational meetings, school-sanctioned travels, campus-wide events in which students are required to participate and not have classes, and numerous other situations, the teacher is required to make up the classes. Make-up classes are a bear to deal with. Trying to squeeze extra classes into your already busy schedule and also the students’ full schedules is a challenge. Coordinating free times in between our booked-solid days demands patience and careful scrutiny of empty time slots. Paperwork signed by the teacher and department dean is also required, which is then sent to the teaching affairs office for final approval.
I did wonder if I would be required to make up all the classes I’d be missing due to this virus. I was preparing myself to deal with this scenario but it seems my department has already considered the fact that I might not be returning anytime soon.
I have just been contacted by one of the young teachers in my department (Teacher Li) who will be taking over my classes and those of Lindsey’s. Her voicemail sounded upbeat, full of hope that the delayed school year was to start up as usual on Feb. 24.
Li: “Hey, Connie! I have been informed that I will take some of your classes, maybe Lindsey’s classes as well, so do you have any teaching plans that I can refer to? Do you have any suggestions?”
How grateful I am that I have all my teaching plans right here on my computer and can easily shoot those back to her. I told her that my textbooks for the new course and the freshmen were in my home, and that my neighbor had my apartment key. He would let her in to pick those up so she could begin preparing now.
Li: “OK. But since the campus is restricted right now, and I can’t get to school, I will have to rely on whatever you can send me by email. This is a very nice opportunity for me to get to know your students and your teaching materials.”
Teacher Li is a very capable young woman, with excellent English, so I am sure she can get along fine with my classes. I am just sorry she has to take on such a heavy burden to teach so many students and be bogged down for so many teaching hours in a week.
When this virus threat is finally over, and I can return to China once again, I am bringing all those who helped with our course loads an American gift goodie bag, filled with all sorts of fun things from my country. It’s the least I can do for my colleagues, still hopeful that students will soon return, the school year will resume and all will revert back to normal.
From Illinois, here’s wishing you Peace, 平安 (ping ahn) for your day.