For the past 3 years, while in the States, I’ve made sure to keep in constant contact with my Chinese friends, former students, teaching colleagues, school leaders and my Chinese church community at the Luzhou Protestant Church. We communicate daily on China’s WeChat, a network I describe as a combination of Facebook and What’s App.
WeChat posts for me include voice mails, videos, mini-blogs and lots of pictures. What received the most notice for December were all the activities my mom and I did for the holidays: Christmas tree buying, house decorating, church worship services, choir practices, baking cookies and delivering these to neighbors, shoveling snow (Sichuan, where I teach, rarely has freezing temperatures or snow), my town’s tour of Christmas lights, and Christmas Day happenings, including coming to the free community turkey dinner which had 100 attending.
What gained the most comments, however, was my yearly Christmas and New Year’s video featuring myself, my mom and my older brother.
Our first one in 2021 was an arm-twisting venture on my part.
I was expecting that I’d be back in China the next year so I somewhat blackmailed my mom and brother into doing a holiday greeting to my Chinese students as: “This will never, ever happen again as I doubt I’ll be in America for another Christmas anytime soon. Please, please do this for me?”
Despite their complaints and heavy sighs of “Oh, all right! Let’s get it over with,” both were eager to watch it over and over again after I sent out to over 40 in China, including numerous chat groups I belong to. For a week after, I had so many comments made about our video, from how young my mom looked to what a great singer my brother was to how cute the dog acted.
On a daily basis, my mom would ask, “So what did someone have to say about our video this morning?” (See below’s 2021 Greeting)
This Year’s Greeting
Now we come to this past Christmas, with me still being here and my once-again ask of mom and elder brother for yet another recording of a holiday message for 2022.
There were moans and groans, eye-rolling and the previous year’s “Well, let’s hurry up and get it over with,” but I noticed that after it was done, they both seemed pleased not only with our performance but with the many responses it received.
See what you think of our 2022 family holiday video. It was VERY well-received in China, accompanied by “Connie, welcome you to come back soon!” from my Chinese contacts.
China News Today
Today is January 8th, the true opening of China. 10-day hotel quarantines and cell phone App Covid negative codes are no longer required for any incoming flights from overseas. The Chinese wealthy, and those itching to get out of the country to either tour or visit overseas relatives, have booked flights to Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Europe, Indonesia, America, Australia, Canada . . . and the list goes on. With the approach of Chinese New Year (January 22) and the 7-day holiday that follows, travel outside the country has really picked up and will continue to do so for the next month. Although the spread of Covid is horrendous at present due to the open-up policy, with almost all of those I know either infected with Covid or recovering from Covid, this doesn’t seem to stop anyone from leaving home, eating out, visiting friends or relatives or engaging in domestic and international travel.
The young seem to be faring well after getting Covid but the death toll is very high among the elderly, with only 40% having been fully vaccinated. This low number was due to a lax push for the older communities to get vaccinated and also suspicion of Western-style approaches (vaccinations and overseas medicine) vs. Chinese traditional methods of healing (herbal based and accupuncture).
Shocking videos have inundated the Internet on overseas websites: hospitals overwhelmed with the sick, worried relatives attending patient-filled cots lining medical center hallways, long lines outside of pharmacies for any much-needed, in-short-supply drugs, body bags piling high in freezer units or warehouses, and crematoriums working 24/7 to deal with the growing number of dead. Grieving relatives are having to book cremation and funeral space 10 days in advance (or longer). In the meantime, I have no idea where their deceased loved ones are being held while the wait for cremation and funerals commences.
There are so many heart-wrenching stories and videos. These are not being highlighted at all in the Chinese public. The government reports only 22 have so far died of Covid. We all know that is not true, the Chinese included. Most likely, the true number of infections and deaths will never be announced with accuracy, this year or in the future.
What about Connie’s Return?
Now that China is opening up, I’m anxiously waiting for announcements about when I can get back to my teaching placement at Luzhou Vocational and Technical College.
At present, my partner organization (The Amity Foundation) is working directly with my college in Luzhou for an official invite for me to return. From what I understand, the Amity director is needing to re-negotiate and re-instate my status as an Amity Foundation Teacher with the school before I can begin the process of applying for my visa and prepare to get back to my classroom and students. Rest assured, Amity is earnestly working with my school leaders and the college’s foreign affairs office to see everything is in order, documents properly prepared, so I can smoothly slide into my teaching position once again.
I have been told to be patient.
I expect with Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) approaching, and the usual 7-day holiday from January 22 – January 30, plus students not returning to school until Feb. 6 to start up the new semester, nothing much will probably be done.
Keep watching this space, and hope for that announcement within the next month of my hoped-for rejoining of my college staff in 2023. What a joyful announcement that will be!