Since the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, British citizen Matthew Lawrence Mears has been busy, despite canceling his travel plans and staying at home in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
"We organized online courses and offered training for teachers so that students can keep learning English at home," said the 39-year-old teacher.
Mears runs an English training school for children in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia. Teachers at the school come from various countries including as China, Germany, the Philippines and South Africa.
To control the spread of COVID-19, many schools in China including commercial training agencies postponed the commencement of the 2020 spring semester.
"Through video calls, we can correct students' pronunciation and play games with them as usual. Interaction with them also enriches our daily life," said Mears.
Like many people in China, Mears and his colleagues are also greatly concerned about the situation in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and plans to offer help.
To make all children engaged in the plan, Mears came up with an idea. The training school will donate 2 yuan (nearly 30 U.S. cents) to purchase medical supplies after a student finishes his or her homework and uploads it to the class's WeChat group.
Children become more active in learning when they know they can be helpful. "Over 20,000 yuan has been raised so far," said Mears.
"We saw tremendous efforts that the Chinese people have made in fighting against the virus, and many people are risking their lives doing it," said James Benson, a British teacher with the training school. "The power of unity has moved me, so I want to join them."
Foreign colleagues' kindness deeply touched Li Yaqian, a Chinese teacher from Wuhan.
"Although I couldn't return home for family reunion during the Spring Festival holiday, it is meaningful to work together with colleagues and do something helpful for my hometown," said Li.
The first batch of medical supplies including 200 face masks and 50 protection suits have been sent to Wuhan.
Li and her Chinese colleagues also help foreign teachers deal with the inconvenience caused by the lockdown of the city.
"In the beginning, foreign teachers were worried about their health, especially their parents. They had no clue of what is really happening here," Li said.
Their concerns are greatly reduced after Chinese colleagues share the latest news about the epidemic and keep in touch with them every day.
"My parents called me online almost every day at first. I told them I am very safe here in Ningxia," Benson said. "We can go out once every two days to buy daily necessities. I know it's the best way to ensure our safety."
Spending so much time indoors can be frustrating at times for Benson. "Therefore, online courses allow me to see my lovely students, and we are really happy to see each other," said Benson, who also spends much of his time cooking Western food for his Chinese wife.
"I'm not scared about the epidemic, and I do believe that China will get through it," Benson said.