Chinese have always been adept at online anything using their phones. Banking, Net ordering of goods, transferring money, bookings (bus, train, plane, theater), payment of services or things needed (house repairs, remodeling apartments, furniture, cars, etc), posting and sharing videos, pictures, friend chats, company business and so on. So it is not unusual that in this time of staying at home, the Chinese have amped up their phone use to a new level. This is definitely apparent when it comes to my profession, that of education.
According to the new schedule, teachers were to return to campus this weekend with the teachers’ meetings beginning on Feb. 17 to prepare for the new school year.
However, the return of students to campus on February 22 has been nixed. All teachers are to go to online teaching, which I’m sure will be addressed this week as teachers come back to their departmental offices.
Online Teaching: It will be a challenge!
So much new technology is involved in online teaching, including downloading Apps, instillation, instruction by our tech staff, and how to maneuver through the system, that it will be a huge endeavor to get everyone on the same page. We have excellent computer experts on our campus who deal with all our classroom computers, updating and repairing programs, addressing viruses and questions. They are overworked on just a regular basis keeping up with everything. This last-minute complete change-over is really going to send them into overdrive to get new software installed, teach everyone the use of the new system, how to access it from your phone or personal computer, how to do classroom teaching with video and whatever else needs taken care of.
I was not asked to participate in such a venture but I think that is a wise move. I do not think China wants anything coming out of America, even if it is as innocent as a teaching tool for college students. One never knows what is being reported or said from my country. I would not want to cause my school to be scrutinized as to what teacher Connie is saying or doing from America if I join into the online teaching system.
Teachers, workers, staff returning: Their own problems
While a majority of our teachers have been in Luzhou the entire winter holiday, there were a few who traveled home before the city lockdown occurred in earnest around Jan. 26. A ban was also lifted for those in government jobs and companies, asking them to return to work this past week. But people are still requested to remain at home.
According to today’s posting, more than 780 million people are currently living under various forms of travel restrictions as authorities race to contain the spread of the virus.
I was wondering how this travel situation would unfold as my colleagues, administrators, office staff and campus workers returned. Quite a few of our teachers now have private cars, which (in the past) they enjoyed driving all about the city or to outer-lying areas on day trips or countryside outings. Car usage is now at a minimum. City roads and streets are empty. Parking lots are vacant. Residents are encouraged not to go out often, thus vehicular traffic is extremely limited.
A message from a colleague at my college came in this morning, answering a few of my questions: “Now, the teachers and staff who are returning from other cities should be in quarantine for 2 weeks (14 days). First, their temperatures are monitored and other phenomena, and can only order take-away food 3 meals a day from the school canteen.”
From this, I gather traveling teachers who live on campus are not allowed to leave their apartments for an entire 2 weeks, even to go shopping. As for campus workers (cafeteria staff, grounds keepers, electricians and other repair folk), I am unsure where they would be staying. Most live in dormitory-style housing units at the school. Will they be placed together for a 2-week period and not allowed to go out?
And it seems that even getting back to cities of employment by China’s toll-road highways, which were closed for some time but just re-opened, is becoming a mess.
“Drivers were held up on highways for 15 days without food and beds.”
I do know that Jan. 26 began a full ban for vehicles on highways across the country so I am guessing she means some people became stuck on closed highways and were just released through toll stations after their 15 days of seclusion. Those reports I have not heard on our US media networks so I can’t confirm but what a nightmare that would have been! Surely someone would have delivered water and food to these people, not to mention officials walking the many miles of lined up cars, trucks and buses to take people’s temperatures.
I have seen on the news and heard that temperature checks are a must by official temperature-takers at public places (supermarkets, hospitals, banks) and even on my campus, officials go door-t0-door in my apartment building to check temperatures of those living there.
The Luzhou Church Goes to Online Services
I am a member of the Everlasting Love Choir at the Luzhou Protestant Church, which is a solely Chinese language church, attended by the Chinese. Although all foreigners are welcome to come to church, rarely do overseas’ Christians join in the worship. I am the only regular one who comes. (Yes, foreigners in Luzhou can attend church with Chinese Christians and are always welcomed with open minds and open hearts.)
I have been singing with our church choir for 3 years now, which includes attending practices (twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday from 7 – 9 p.m.), worship on Sunday morning (8 – 11:30 a.m.), numerous rehearsals for special events such as Christmas and Easter, Bible studies and fun fellowship outings which the choir often arranges.
As reported before, the virus has greatly affected those of any religion who often gathered together to worship: Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Doaists … Temples and church leaders have been asked not to hold regular gatherings and ask their members to stay at home.
Our choir practices ended the week of January 20th with Luzhou church services halted from January 25 onward.
I received a notice via my phone that as of February 16, yesterday, services will now be held online. The announcement was as follows, with instructions on using Alibaba’s 钉钉 (Ding Ding, or Ding Talk) App.
“In order to ensure that more brothers and sisters at home can participate in the worship of the Lord on the network platform of our church, during this special period of the epidemic, today the church has begun to build the “Dingding” group. With Dingding group, you can participate in live worship online with thousands of people and can participate in Luzhou church online worship on Sunday. Please tell each other. Help each other to install the Ding Talk movie phone software. If you can’t install the software, please entrust a family member to help you. Click the link below to install the software and register.”
Wikipedia explains this software as follows: “Ding Talk is an enterprise communication and collaboration platform Developed by Alibaba Group. It was founded in 2014. By 2018 it was one of the world’s largest professional communication and management mobile app in China with over 100 million users. International market intentions were announced in 2018. Ding Talk provides iOS and Android apps as well as Mac and PC clients.”
Unfortunately for me, I am not able to join this group because my cell phone telephone number only works in China. To join the group, security codes must be accessed via text messages which I can’t get in America. So I will just be content in knowing that my Chinese church family is able to continue with their shared faith in online worship.
I leave you with my prayer for today, which I just posted in our choir WeChat group:
“Today’s Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for giving my life purpose and meaning. In this difficult time, guide me to send help where it I needed. Use me to spread your love. Let me be your instrument here on Earth. In your name I pray, Amen.”
From Illinois, here’s wishing you Peace (平安), ping an, for your day.