From Chengdu (Capital of Sichuan): NY Times Article; A Former Student’s Opinions

A Former Student Shares Frustrations

In the previous entry, I shared a bit about Jason’s recent messages to me. His wise decision to leave the city before the lockdown took place has him enjoying relative freedom in the area about an hour in the countryside where his parents live. His current job has him up all night, working for a company that hires limousine service for those needing transportation to and from airports around the globe. The international hours demand him to be ready to answer the phone during his night time and speak with overseas partner companies needing vehicle pick-ups/drop-offs for their staff or clients. Sometimes, his number is given directly to the person who needs his services. Just this morning, he told me he’d been arranging limousine service to the hotel for someone landing in Chicago. That’s in my state!

“Do you know what we call Chicago?” I asked him in a text message.

“No,” was his reply.

“It’s the Windy City, because of the wind that comes off of Lake Michigan,” I continued in the next entry. “You can be in-the-know and impress the next Chicago client with your knowledge.”

And his next voicemail startled me:

“You know, before my friends can go out shopping for 1-2 hours during the lockdown but not now. More cases have been discovered, with daily testing of all citizens to catch those who are positive, so now everyone is on full lockdown. No one can leave their homes. Barriers are being set up around neighborhoods. Everyone must order food online for delivery. I worry about so many elderly. They are not good at using cell phones to order things online. Who will help them?”

This is so true.

When Shanghai went on the same draconian lockdown for almost 2 months in March and April, criticism arose for those unable to get adequate amounts of food. Stories emerged of those in their 70s to 90s, living alone, going without food for several days until a next-door neighbor brought over a few small items. One old man’s pleas went viral when he broke lockdown protocol, went out to the street and flagged down one of the few public buses to tearfully beg for food. The video circulated with many critical comments added about how to solve this problem.

In the end, many viewing this immediately began a search for those needing help so they could group-order food needed. Leaving an apartment was only allowed for daily testing, which presented a dilemma as to how to reach vulnerable individuals. One young couple posted signs in their complex, telling residents to call them for assistance. Others talked to those in their Covid testing line, saying they were willing to order food for them. Such compassion spread to other parts of Shanghai, where willing and able new-generation techies took it on themselves to organize teams to make sure those struggling to get food didn’t starve to death.

One hopes that Chengdu residents will take Shanghai’s example to heart and do the same.

China’s strict Zero-Covid Policy

If you are unfamiliar with why China is sticking to this policy, or what it exactly means, read below. It gives a very good explanation.

News from Luzhou: Experiencing 7th Day of Lockdown

While Chengdu’s population of 21 million is not allowed to venture out, Luzhou city (where my school is located) has been experiencing their own troubles.

From 4 positive cases last week, to another 8 and now 50 reported after daily testing, lockdown measures have taken full effect. One family member is still able to leave for 2 hours of grocery shopping every day but that might be changing soon due to rising Covid cases. Despite keeping families at home, the every-other-day testing requirements are still finding cases.

One gentleman was reported to have been arrested for jogging around his area. The police tried to catch him on 4 different instances and finally did, sending him to a detention center for violating the “stay-at-home” order. He was made a huge example of all over the city as a selfish man, one holding no regard for the safety of others.

Such behavior and blatant breaking of lockdown rules obviously will not be tolerated.

My college held off inviting students back from summer break, hoping Sept. 7 might see the doors open, but that is not the case. All schools at all levels are now all online. Malls and shops are closed. Restaurants and gyms tightly sealed. Businesses are shuttered as well. This is in an attempt to catch every single new virus case possible.

There was hope that the lockdown would only last a week but with rising numbers, my college officials are thinking perhaps after China’s National Day holidays are over, October 7, there might be better news to get students back into the classroom.

Recent Double-Celebrations from Windows and Balconies

The Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated this year on September 10, coincided with the United Nations’ declared holiday, Teachers Day. Both are celebrated by China, with the festival giving the entire country a 3-day holiday to travel or have family time at home to enjoy watching the full moon while eating mooncakes.

Due to the city’s strict virus-control regulations, however, Luzhou residents were required to stay at home. In an attempt to give some joy to citizens, Hazmat suited volunteers and those used to enforce the lockdown led apartment complexes in celebrations from the outside courtyards. City text messages went out in the millions, inviting citizens to wave flags from their balconies and windows at a certain time, as well as sing with favorite songs blasted over loudspeakers.

See the below, posted by my former student, an elementary education English teacher. Rather than stay at home and be bored all day, he has been volunteering to help with Covid testing and upholding the stay-at-home order. He was able to get a great view of the city’s success in making a dismal holiday outlook become a vibrant show of solidarity and joy.

Feeling Left Out

I must say, after watching that video, I really regretted being here in America. I’d much rather be in China to join with my colleagues and friends in their on-going struggles as this lockdown continues. What I can do, however, is send lots of positive hope their way through messages and voicemails.

If I can’t yet be there in person, I can at least be there in spirit.

About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
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2 Responses to From Chengdu (Capital of Sichuan): NY Times Article; A Former Student’s Opinions

  1. Jean Marsh says:

    There is a reason you are here even if it isn’t clear to you at this time. Prayers for you and your friends in China.

  2. Kate says:

    I can truly appreciate your desire to be in Luzhou. I vote the Chengdu folks take up the mantle as those in Shanghai did. Thank You for sharing this article…. I was aware of not receiving a card from you….I hadn’t forgotten to Google the date and even when I attended the celebration at the college….I simply thought to myself they must doing so early. My first hint was a note from a former student. Hugs….

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