Yang Xiayu poses with his mother, a military medic in Shanghai who has been dispatched to Wuhan, Hubei province, to combat the novel coronavirus. [Photo provided to China Daily]
School students' stories about their medical-professional parents responding to the call to work win praise nationwide
An essay written by a teenager garnered many likes online recently. The writer, Yang Xiayu, told how his mother, a military medic, had traveled to Wuhan, Hubei province, to help combat the novel coronavirus, online news portal The Paper reported on Friday.
Xiayu is a sixth grader at No 2 Experimental School affiliated to Shanghai Normal University in the city's Putuo district, and his mother is a chief orthopedics nurse at No 905 Military Hospital of the People's Liberation Army Navy.
The essay was a winter break assignment, and Xiayu said he wrote the story because he was moved by his mother's response to the call to serve.
Yuan Jianzhou, the school's vice-president, said Xiayu's essay was one of 191 the school received. It was so touching that his Chinese teacher submitted it to the Shanghai Morning Post's WeChat account, which published the essay online and received many touching responses, such as "This mother sets the best example for her child" and "Thumbs up for this hero mother."
Liu Jun, an education officer in Putuo, said the district had recently called for essays documenting this "unusual winter holiday", and students began submitting stories about people's fights against the outbreak. Some wrote about their medical-professional parents, some wrote about donating masks and money, and some wrote about social workers' efforts to prevent transmission of the illness.
The essays documented this unusual holiday-a hard time eased by the deeds of many individuals, Liu said.
Below are two essays written by students
An unusual winter holiday By Yang Xiayu, Class 4, Grade 6, No 2 Experimental School affiliated to Shanghai Normal University
Jan 24 was Lunar New Year's Eve. The ringing of the phone woke me up from a sweet dream. As I opened my drowsy eyes, mom was already on the phone: "Yes, director, I am on holiday with my family in Changzhou (a city in Jiangsu province). What time? Okay, we will be on our way at once."
Click! Mom turned on the bedroom light, and jostled my dad and me awake. "Quickly, we have to pack up and go back to Shanghai now. I need to report for emergency work for Wuhan at 11 am," she said.
Dad grumbled, "It's only 5 am-why can't you let me have a good holiday!"
The sudden light made it hard for me to open my eyes as I snuggled into my duvet and complained: "Today is Lunar New Year's Eve, and we have a family dinner with great-grandfather and aunties. I want to receive lucky money when we pay visits to relatives. I haven't celebrated Spring Festival in the countryside for years!"
As she pulled me out of bed and helped me to dress, Mom said, "My baby, I will explain to you on the way. Now, get up and pack up your stuff."
In the wake of our noise, grandpa and grandma, who were sleeping in the next room, got up. One started preparing breakfast, while the other started packing things and making phone calls.
At 7 am, we had a simple, quick breakfast and put our luggage in the car, leaving stuff that didn't fit in. It was raining and foggy, and the sky was still dark.
Mom dragged me into the car, despite my crying for New Year visits, and Dad started the engine. The rain became heavier and the road was blanketed with fog. The windshield wipers worked at the highest frequency, but we could only see about 50 meters ahead. Sometimes, Mom urged Dad to drive faster, but at others she warned him to slow down. That made me carsick, and I felt awful about this Spring Festival.
The rain stopped as we drove on the highway to Shanghai, and Mom finally had time to turn around and talk to me.
"I know you are not happy, but do you know why Mom has to give up her holiday and go to Wuhan? Because there is a new type of virus in Wuhan-hundreds of people are infected and thousands are in quarantine," she said.
"Is it more serious than flu?" I asked.
"Definitely. Remember when 16 classmates couldn't go to school last month because they had the flu? This pneumonia-like virus is more dangerous. In 2003, a similar virus called SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) broke out in China, infecting thousands and claiming 700 lives globally. You were not born then."
I felt so upset when Mom showed me photos of the SARS outbreak: people wore masks, doctors and nurses put on hazmat suits, and few people walked on the streets.
"Mom, must you go?" I asked, worried.
"Yes, I am a chief nurse, and I am a military medic. My job is to heal the wounded and help the dying," she said. "Now Wuhan is in danger-it is your father's hometown, and your mom must go and help save it."
When we arrived in Shanghai, Mom rushed inside our home. After just 10 minutes, she was downstairs again with a small bag. Looking at her, I was about to cry. I knew she wouldn't be with us for a long time and I wouldn't be able to eat her cooking. She was going to brave the dangerous virus.
She hugged me and patted my head. As she left she said, "Be a man." I nodded.
Grandpa cooked noodles for our Lunar New Year's Eve dinner. There was little festive feeling, and I didn't even want to watch the Spring Festival Gala on television. Outside, there were no sounds of traffic or firecrackers. Time seemed to stop.
At 8 pm, Mom called. "Watch the news on (China) Central Television," she said, hanging up before we could answer. I turned on the television. It was broadcasting footage of reinforcements by military medics from Shanghai to Wuhan, and Mom was on the screen.
Wearing the blue uniform of the People's Liberation Army Navy, Mom and 150 other Navy medics were on their way to an airplane. The cargo plane had its back door wide open, and Mom and her comrades rushed to board, quietly and orderly. Their faces were solemn and anxious, and the only sound was that of shoes hitting the ground in unison and the orders given by the commander. Finally, the airplane taxied to the runway and took off into the night sky.
Wuhan, tonight you will no longer be on your own! Mom and her comrades are coming!
After watching the broadcast, I was no longer upset and I fell asleep, thinking: Tomorrow is the first day of the Lunar New Year. Life will continue, Mom will triumph and Wuhan will be safe again.
An ordinary family's contribution By Zhan Yuxiao, Class 1, Grade 8, No 2 Experimental School affiliated to Shanghai Normal University
As the final exams finished, the first semester of the academic year drew to an end. But the weather wouldn't cool down. December was unusually warm, with temperatures rising and falling dramatically from time to time-there seemed to be something special about this winter. At home, everything carried on as usual. As in previous years, we spent the Spring Festival holiday in my mother's hometown of Yangzhou, Jiangsu province.
The celebrations in Yangzhou started as early as a week before the big day. Walking on the streets, you could easily feel that the festival was just around the corner. The whole city was immersed in a joyful holiday mood.
Everything was just like it used to be-the views, the buildings, the happy family gatherings. It was only after two days that the news broke: a new coronavirus had broken out in a seafood market in Wuhan, Hubei province.
Panic sparked by the virus was all over the place. TV and social media were broadcasting breaking news every day-the number of confirmed infections had risen by a few hundred in a single day; the virus could be transmitted by humans. Suddenly, surgical masks were sold out, fever clinics were overcrowded and doctors rushed to Wuhan. As I browsed the worrying headlines, I secretly hoped that my Dad wouldn't go. After all, he wasn't in the Fever Clinic Department.
Lunar New Year's Eve is a time for family reunions. We prepared dinner together. I was so happy that Grandpa taught me how to cook Yangzhou meatballs. After dinner, we watched the Spring Festival Gala on TV.
Everyone was happy, except for Dad. He kept checking his phone, his looks becoming more and more solemn.
On the morning of Lunar New Year's Day, Mom and Dad announced that it was time to return to Shanghai. Before I could digest what was happening we were driving on the highway, and trees and streetlamps flashed outside the car window.
I couldn't shake off all the questions in my head. Why were we going back so suddenly? Dad is not a doctor in the fever clinic, after all. There were already confirmed cases in Shanghai and the news said tourists from Hubei had all been settled in a hotel, so there were still risks.
How could Mom disregard all these factors and agree to return? She is the one who always makes health the family's top priority.
When we got closer to home, I noticed something was different.
The usually busy shopping mall was quiet. At the gates of residential communities, doctors in protective suits and volunteers wearing surgical masks were conducting checkups on passersby.
That was when I realized the virus had spread from Wuhan to other places, so Dad had to cancel his holiday and return to work. While most people stay home during the crisis, doctors and nurses have to do their jobs, even when it means facing the disease.
When Dad was about to leave home, he turned around. I recalled what I had read online and said: "Avoid going out. Wear a mask if we have to."
Dad paused and broke into a smile: "That's my good boy. Dad will help the other doctors save lives. You will now help take care of our family."
Mom put a mask over Dad's mouth. "Just go. I will be here," she said.
I feel so proud. My dad is just an ordinary man, but he's also a doctor willing to take risks to save lives.
My family is just an ordinary family, but we are willing to make sacrifices for the whole of society and make our contribution, just like the families of many other doctors.
It is said that life is easy only because others shoulder all the difficulties. In this unusual winter break, I came to understand that every ordinary family contributes indispensable strength to society. As the illness rages, it is my dad and his fellow doctors and nurses who are holding up the sky for this country.