Isolation and Online Teaching during the Outbreak

Fang is a teacher teaching Chinese to the foreigners in university. She and her husband and her child went to their hometown, Enshi (the city in Hubei province, which is the explosive of the virus) They took their journey in the winter holiday.
Isolated in Countryside

My name is Fang Yu, 33 years old, I was born in Chifeng city in Mongolia of China. I am a teacher teaching students how to teach foreigners Chinese as a second language in university and I was graduated from Linguistics and applied linguistics in Shanghai International Studies University. My husband was from Enshi city, in Hubei province. We went to Enshi during this Spring Festival because last year we did not go to Enshi. Our family including baby, my husband, and I went to Enshi about half a month earlier than the explosion of corona-virus. When we got there, we did not know about anything related with virus. No one predicted about it and no news reported about it. However, just 1 week after our arrival, the news came. We originally planned to leave at the third day of the Spring, but we received the news that all the public transportation like railways, airports, and even highways in Hubei province had been closed. THEY ALL CLOSED DOWN. We just realized that the virus could be much serious than I had thought before.

We are so weary and eager to go home. However, the cancellation of transportation prevents us to go anywhere else. My husband works at hospital , and all the people who work at there have to go back to work starting in the second day of the Spring because the special situation of this year. He was in harry to get back to work. After he left, they had only one engineer, and the engineer was going crazy for the pressure and extremely large workload. I do not have to worry about going back because my university was still having the Spring holiday.

We looked at news to understand the seriousness and dangers at the time and suggestions from the governments. If we leave now, it's irresponsible for me, for my family, and for my colleagues . That’s because when we go back, we may become a carrier of the virus. Gradually, we changed our thoughts, thinking that as long as all the family members are safe and healthy, we all fine. Lastly, we pray for my husband’s colleagues to handle the pressure and be healthy. Considering the situation at the time, we knew that staying in the same spot instead of running everywhere is most effective in protecting ourselves, our relatives and friends, and our country. The government have already tried its best to make up after realizing the seriousness of the pandemic, so we shouldn’t add more troubles and pressure to the government and country.

The fortunate thing from unfortunates is we were not strictly quarantined in city. As the time we knew the virus, we drove to the countryside in order have a safer and larger space to live. Thus, we can climb mountain sometimes and walk around without meeting people. If we were locked in the home in the city, we might not even be able to go downstairs for some essential products. More seriously, it is very cruel for a 3 year old baby locking in the small room instead of walking and running in a spare space every day. The second fortunate thing was that we had fish to eat. My 3 year old baby Yoyo like fish meals a lot, however, because of the city closure policy , all the shops stopped selling fish. Fortunately, we found a fish pool in one of my relative’s house. So we can eat fish by fishing in his fish pool.

Interesting Experience in Countryside Later

The village we live called Yang White Pavilion in Enshi. This area is mainly consists of the tea garden. Recently, you can see a prosperous scene, because now the price of tea is very attractive. The reason of it is that the tea is Mingqian tea. Mingqian tea is a high quality tea. So, people here are all planting this expensive and high quality tea and now is the time to collect tea leaves. Also, the transportation between here and other villages opens. I also tried to collect those tea leaves and fried them, though I had never did this before. I then found out that I like this experience a lot. The whole process is interesting and unique. I learned a lot from this.

Our daily life is climbing the hills, fishing, and planting. This is the sowing season, so we also bought some seeds like seeds of watermelon, sweet corn, and the sapling of the arbutus to plant. We hope to see here turn into an orchard when we come back. You can learn a lot from in the countryside. I, for example, did not know anything about planting watermelons. I thought that we just need to dig a hole, put the seed in, cover the hole with soil, and water the soil. However, it does not work in the way I thought. This is the longest time I spent in countryside, and I really learned so much things out of my comfort zone .

I don't feel much impact on production and life, but it is not for some people. For those who need to work outside, they are actually very affected, because they are sealed in this village, there is no way to go out to work. Being unable to work means they have no income. But the lives of us with normal wages are still ok and are not affected that much. Also, from the start of the epidemic until now, there is no case and infection in this village, so living here is safe.

I feel that life during the epidemic is still quite relaxed. Because I used to work as a teacher, my shoulder, neck muscle , and pharynx all have serious ache. I have lots of classes, so just in last year, I had three times of pharyngitis. After living in the countryside, I felt that the whole body relaxed, and my shoulder and neck did not hurt anymore. The pace of life is slower, and I do not have to think about today's tasks every minutes. Staying in the yard and feeling sunlight makes me feel comfortable.

Working online

Only one day, I felt a little nervous. Because I had nothing to do before, I dangled in the village every day. But one day, our school's academic office sent a message to start building classes online. It made me a little nervous that day. Because I didn't have any materials, books, and U disk. All my teaching materials were at home, and I didn't bring them. So I wondered how can I teach online. At the end of the day, our school library provided a service that could download electronic textbooks during the epidemic. I downloaded all the textbooks I was going to take, and then called my mother to teach her how to use WeChat on the computer. Then I teach her how to copy the audio on the CD, and use WeChat to send to me. Anyway, every day I asked her to help. In the end, I think it's the best class I can build under the circumstances.

From my perspective, I have not lost so much comparing to others especially those who are doing the work outside and get daily payment. Those people have no money since they can not work. They also have loans of house and car needing money. Thus, the corona is breathtaking for them.

I don't really have any burden, and my job is the type that if I am not work due to pandemic or crisis, I will still have income. And now, all the schools in China are closed and we teach online, so in this decade of the Internet, it doesn't really affect me that much.

Personal Reflection

To be honest, I'm not sure when I can go back. Every day I worry about when could public transportation in Hubei open. There is no very authoritative organization or department to say that when it can open. But I think China is now doing a very well job to control the epidemic. It should be at least half a month to be able to go back

I think the country's epidemic prevention and control is actually quite successful, and all these people in Hubei province, I think, are very helpful and rational. For example, when we closed down the city and villages, no one complained or asked why we were not allowed to go out. Everyone was very cooperative, and I think that's the thing that is especially remarkable.

She worked as an online teacher during the epidemic, and the situation has improved so much that the family is now preparing to return to Mongolia. When they come back there ,what would be the scene of prairie? Nobody holds the answer.

Interviewed By

Yushi Dong


Fang Yu

Interview Date



Teacher for teaching Chinese as a Foreign language