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Due to COVID-19, across the world people are finding themselves in a shared situation, and there is plenty to learn and appreciate from how other countries are handling the crisis.

South West College Confucius Hub Tutors have experienced being far away from their family and friends, when Coronavirus was at it’s worst in China. Now, they’re experiencing life in Northern Ireland, a country ‘foreign’ to them, at a time of national crisis.

Here, they have shared honest and heartfelt accounts, providing insights into their feelings, worries and concerns on both sides of their experience. These accounts are published anonymously, but the tutors involved wish to thank the staff that help and support them at South West College, to whom they are indebted for their support and for “making us feel we are not alone”.

LIVING AND WORKING IN Northern ireland, WHILE COvid-19 IS IN CHINA

“My hometown is in the northeast of China, so I worried about my family.  At the beginning of the epidemic, the situation was only very serious in the north, but it had nearly spread throughout the whole country. Eventually, China finally gave a satisfactory anti-epidemic response, which provided a valuable scheme for world prevention and control that can be referenced.

“What makes me feel warm is the sincere encouragement, care, and regards from colleagues of SWC, CIUU and the primary schools I work in. I always told myself that I was really lucky to work with so many lovely teachers, with so much kindness in this beautiful and peaceful country.

“However, there was always the downside: I felt hopeless that I couldn’t do anything to help my family and friends in China.

“As time went by in China, all my family began to stay at home for nearly two months. Now, they can have their normal life, with the gradual dissipating of the epidemic; although they now worry about my wife, my daughter and I, due to the global spread of coronavirus. The most essential thing for all people is to stay at home and keep all safe and healthy. Solidarity against the epidemic and cooperation has become the consensus of the international community. Corona-virus diseases are the common enemies of mankind. I hope that all human beings will overcome the difficulties and protect our homeland by upholding the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, and by working together to fight the epidemic.”

“At the beginning of January, when there were only a few cases in China, I was already concerned about the situation in my home country. I was worried about my family and friends. Worried that they didn’t have enough food or masks, and worried that they were not paying enough attention to the Coronavirus. But there wasn’t much I could do. At the time, I hoped I could return to China and be with them. That feeling is difficult to describe. On one hand I felt sad. These are people, not numbers. But on the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel lucky. My home is not in Hubei Province. Now, it is in Northern Ireland, far from China. This complex thought made me feel so guilty that I couldn’t sleep at night.

“I felt the efforts of Chinese people around the world during that period: so many Chinese doctors and nurses were fearless and volunteered to go to Wuhan to fight the ‘war’. They were saving lives, just like the NHS doctors and nurses are now doing here. 

Moreover, since the outbreak of new coronavirus in Northern Ireland, I really appreciate the people of Enniskillen. They may not know what happened, they may even question whether I ‘carry’ the virus, but they gave me great kindness and respect at that time. They greeted me with a smile. Even the 261 bus-driver told me to take good care of myself.  The goodwill and their words relieved my anxiety. Their willingness to understand “what happened in China” also made me feel warm and at ease. I really appreciate it.

I really hope that the epidemic in the world will pass quickly and we can get back to normal. Wouldn’t it be great if we could restart 2020?”

“In the very early days of Coronavirus I always face-timed my parents to tell them to be careful. But they were never worried.

Then, when the Coronavirus was at its worst in China, my parents felt the severity of the situation. They started to prepare food at home and wouldn’t go outside. They worried more, but it meant that I worried less for them.

My friends in China told me that they were very bored at home – just sleeping and eating all day. They said they envied me; were jealous that I could still go and deliver my classes. Now, weeks later, we have to stay at home here in Northern Ireland, just as my parents and friends did in China before us.  I still believe everything will be OK soon, and the most important thing is that we take care of ourselves and be happy every day. We must try not to worry too much and instead look ahead to when we can return to our original life.  Keep fighting!”

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