I’m on a bus heading into the city to pick up shoes. It is foggy and a hint of rain. It feels like a dream.
I’m surrounded by people going to work. I’m not. Teaching and studying have been canceled since February. People were worried, but now things have settled into a ‘regular pattern – masks, alcohol wipes, and disinfectant. There’s less hysteria – less panic. It’s a new normal where there is fear but a hope to return to normal.
My fears are are about my students. I know most of them are at risk by being left alone while the parents work, or left with grandparents who maybe too old to fully care for the children. The kids have a lot history of being neglected under normal times. Under these unique times, I only fear how they are treated. Education is important in Hong Kong as it is the path to get into stronger students. It is understood by the teachers and some students but sometimes lost on the parents. My worry is their skills will get less the longer they are out of school. It feels like there is no direction other than me trying to figure something out to help via WeChat or other messaging services. My hope is to figure this out. I am an English teacher but worry about all the subjects and finding ways to normalize what is going on as best as possible.
Traditionally English is the hardest at school. It is important to get into a good secondary school but the chance for our students to talk is limited to only me. It is the connection needed for them to talk and share. I know they haven’t spoken anything meaningful in the past three months. My fear is it is worse.
I’m trying. Mostly through video conferencing tools like Zoom and using WeChat. A majority of my students are in Mainland China but born in Hong Kong. I’m getting them to ‘free write’ – one topic and encouraging an essay or short story response. Now I’ll try to get them to record some reading to help with pronunciation and to get them to talk.
There are over 350 kids at my school. I can’t help them all but want to help as many as I can. The Education Department has said they hope to resume classes after Easter. I wish I had the same hope