Advice from a CNM Student in China: Be Patient and ‘Take This Seriously’
Chris Brown (far left)

Advice from a CNM Student in China: Be Patient and ‘Take This Seriously’

Chris Brown has been living through a quarantine for weeks and says that if people follow the rules, things will get better
March 17, 2020

Chris Brown understood the situation was really serious with regard to the COVID-19 when he went outside his apartment in Tianjin, China to walk his dogs and suddenly realized he was the only person on the street. 

“There are a lot of people with dogs here, and they all disappeared,” Chris says. 

That was weeks back, and until just a few days ago, it was also the norm. Unless you had to buy groceries, or get medicine, you stayed home, Chris says. 

Chris teaches English at a primary school in Tianjin—which is next to Beijing—but is from New Mexico and is currently taking three English classes online. He reached out to CNM to share his experience in hopes it will help people here stay healthy. 

“My biggest fear is that Americans won’t take this seriously,” he says.

Even now, seven weeks after the quarantine began there, Chris says someone takes his temperature any time he goes into a grocery store or pharmacy (the only businesses that are open). He is also required to scan a QR code using an app on his phone so his whereabouts can be tracked. That felt invasive at first, Chris says, but he quickly realized it was an effective way to alert people that they might have been exposed if anyone else in the store eventually fell sick. At his apartment complex, no one is let in who doesn’t live there.

“It sucks, sure, but all these precautions are temporary and necessary,” Chris says.

Like most people, Chris reads and watches TV to pass the time, but he is also glad to be enrolled in online CNM classes. Chris eventually wants to teach high school literature in New Mexico so he’s taking literature classes through the college to fulfill a licensing requirement. While homework might have been a bother during normal times, it is a welcome distraction during the outbreak. 

“Thank goodness I enrolled in classes,” he says.”If I hadn’t been enrolled, I don’t know what I would have done.”

Chris throws himself at the work in order to stay distracted. For example, instead of turning in the required two pages for an assigned essay, he wrote six. His instructors are understanding and give him the space to go above and beyond.

“I have to give a big shout out to my professors. I know I’ve been demanding,” Chris says. “I let them know I was stuck in China and had a lot of extra time to put into the classes.”

Nowadays, life in China is still very limited, Chris says. But things are starting to get better. His school is still closed (he’s been teaching online), but people are back on the streets in smaller numbers and life doesn’t feel as shut down. There’s movement between cities in China, and it feels like the worst is over. 

“I smiled today when I heard a horn,” Chris wrote in a poem he recently turned in for one of his CNM English classes. After weeks of silence, he says, it was nice to feel like life is slowly starting to come back.