Waylon Fong, from New Zealand, is a teacher of the International Division of Zhengzhou Cornerstone High School. Instead of returning to his country in the winter holiday, he stayed in Henan and had a special Spring Festival.
Waylon Fong has several identities. At first, he is "a foreigner enjoying the Chinese New Year", then "a villager who adapts to local customs", and finally he becomes "a popular teacher on the Internet". During this spring festival, Waylon Fong went through the lockdown of the city and the village and home quarantine, all because of the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic. Staying in Henan during this particular period enables Waylon Fong to witness, from the first-person point of view, the forceful anti-virus measures of Zhengzhou and the tenacity of Henan people despite difficulties, and be touched by the warmth of people helping each other. He is a foreigner, but also a participant in this special campaign, during which he prayed for the victory of mankind and also learned more about China.
During his self-quarantine in Zhengzhou, Waylon Fong kept an "anti-epidemic" diary, recoding those unusual but inspiring days with true stories.
Welcome the Spring Festival
It was the last day before the winter holiday. The campus was overflowing with joy. Teachers and students were packing suitcases, ready for the 3-week relaxation. After all, Spring Festival - the most important traditional festival to all Chinese was approaching.
In Mid-January, "novel coronavirus pneumonia" erupted all of a sudden, while I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Spring Festival, immersed in excitement.
Do in Rome as Rome Does
On January 21, I took a bus heading for Litang Village in Xixian County, Xinyang City with my girlfriend. We'd never thought that the 100 gauze masks she bought before we left Zhengzhou would become the most valuable materials to prevent the virus infection in the following month.
Litang was quiet, but also full of festive atmosphere. Villagers there had smiling faces; both adults and children were keen on paying a New Year's visit and sharing delicious food. It seemed that nothing could ruin their good mood for the New Year. As a guest, I was also seized with their joyful spirit and felt happy.
As the only foreigner in the village, I received warm hospitality from relatives and friends. After dinner, the whole family was watching TV with chitchat. As more entertainment programmes were replaced with news report on the epidemic, everyone got a serious face. Villagers there used to leave their gate open in the daytime. However, they kept them closed for a longer time recently.
Wuhan was sealed off! It was more of a shock than the first time I saw The Avengers on 4K. The virus spread so rapidly that it reminded me of the scenes in "World War Z". I was worried. After all, it's only a two-hour drive from Wuhan to Litang Village.
Life under lockdown
Village cadres patrolled on the street every day. They arranged the epidemic prevention and control work, and took the responsibility to deliver daily necessities door to door. The loudspeaker played looping reruns of the anti-epidemic knowledge, and none was allowed to enter/leave the village. Stuck at home, we could do nothing but maintain a good mentality and be positive to face the precipitate disaster.
Doing morning exercise, reading, preparing lessons, learning Chinese… The scheduled time to return to Zhengzhou had already passed, and we had to keep on waiting in the village.
The back-to-school time was postponed again due to the epidemic. After receiving the notice issued by the Teaching Department of Zhengzhou Cornerstone High School concerning the web-based teaching, I took active action in response to the school's instruction and joined the network teacher team to adapt to the brand-new online teaching model.
Online teaching was fire-new to me. In fact, it was more exciting than expected, in spite of the lack of face-to-face exchange between teachers and students and the delay in telecommunication sometimes. Because of the lockdown, the teaching tools were limited, so I made use of fruits, vegetable, keys and other household articles to explain complex economic concepts, which was widely recognized by students, saying it was real-life application and easy to understand. The unusual way of class produced extraordinary effect. Everyone called me "Internet-celebrity" anchorman jokingly.
Home quarantine in Zhengzhou
It was almost March, and most people in villages returned to cities to resume work in an orderly way. My girlfriend and I also prepared to return to Zhengzhou. We signed various files and also had a medical examination. The problem was that the public transportation was halted. Many ways failing, a kindly neighbor drove us to Xinyang Railway Station, and we finally arrived in Zhengzhou by high-speed train.
We had another 7-day home quarantine. We were not fans of cooking, but fortunately, there was food delivery service. The school contacted me on a daily basis, recording my health status and asking if I needed any help.
At this point, I am almost in the end of my quarantine, and somehow, I feel it a little bit enjoyable.
Thumbs-up for Zhengzhou
All the measures, rigorous as they were, from the moment we arriving in Zhengzhou, to entering the housing estate, then the quarantine life, really surprised me. Disinfectant was sprayed everywhere - stations, carriages, elevators, passages, and even people's shoes. The strong smell didn't make me sick; instead, I was relieved and smiled.
It's so great to live in Zhengzhou! I must give my thumbs-up to such a city where people get 100% security and happiness.