We have been experiencing “a period of restrictions”
since the outbreak of COVID-19
Thanks to this special period
we come to take notice of those
‘lights in our lives’
which we have ignored and got used to for long
The light can be the delivery guy
who said “Enjoy your food”
even if they are out of breath
or those community workers
who repeatedly told you to “Stay at home”
or those foreign friends
who joined the front line of
fighting against the epidemic
Suzhou is home to over 20,000 expatriates
Some are international students
and some come to work and live here.
They may not share the same color
identity, profession or nationality
but their enthusiasm and love
have bridged over the national boundaries
and finally gathered in Suzhou, China
their second hometown
01 Foreign friends in Suzhou are also one of us
Wu Jiayi is a volunteer from Hudong Community in SIP. The first thing Wu would do every morning is to turn on her laptop and collect updated information on the epidemic to the foreigners.
| Suzhou Industrial Park remains one of the regions in Jiangsu with the highest population of expatriates. As of the end of 2019, the number of expatriates with Work Permit reached 4322. Among them, 1675 are high-level foreign talents, accounting for 38.76%.
Expatriates are also in urgent need of information on epidemic prevention and control since the outbreak.
Wu Jiayi collects updated information every day
Hudong Community in SIP soon realized this urgent need and put into practice their multilingual skills and spread through new media such as WeChat to help expatriates living in SIP timely get the knowledge related to the epidemic.
They are currently developing a mini program to facilitate the record and monitoring of the body temperature who enter and leave the community. There will be an English version available for expatriates’ convenience.
Certainly it’s not the only case.
Teachers and students of SFL of Soochow University also took immediate action by forming a volunteer translation team, with over 100 members.
On 2nd February 14, 2020
CCTV News Channel reported their volunteering translation efforts
Making good use of their professionalism, members of the team voluntarily collected information on over 100 fever clinics and other medical institutions and provided online consulting service in Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish.
Volunteers also set up WeChat groups in 7 languages. Expatriates can join the group by scanning QR code and the volunteers will be there to help solve their problems. Over 500 expatriates joined the groups so far.
“Foreign friends living in Suzhou are also one of us. At the very beginning of the outbreak, many of them had no idea what to do. Our volunteers would translate related information for them and help them contact the missions if necessary”, said associate professor Wang Ding, initiator of the volunteer team of Soochow University.
02 Suzhou is our second home. We want to contribute
As the epidemic situation became severe, Xujiabang Bei’ercun started to carry out closed-off management. Volunteers in red uniform would stand at the entrance of community to check the vehicles and people on by one. Among those volunteers, Daniel from Italy was the most ‘special’ one.
Daniel volunteering in the community
“Please come to take your body temperature”
“Would you please tell which building you are going?”
Wearing face mask and cap, speaking fluent Mandarin. Many residents didn’t notice the guy who checked them is from Italy.
Daniel taking the body temperature of the residents entering the community
Daniel has been in China for five or six years and he has a deep feeling for Suzhou. “Suzhou is my second home.”, said Daniel, “Suzhou embraced me with its energy and enthusiasm when I felt lonely and helpless. Now I think it’s my turn to do something for the city.”
Daniel appealing to expatriates in Suzhou to volunteer
Since the company he worked in hasn’t resumed its work, Daniel voluntarily get himself registered as he noticed the proposal posted by community. In addition to checking people who enter and exit the community, Daniel also volunteered in community patrols, and sometimes he would help deliver the take-out or package for residents who are kept in home quarantine. Staff of Xujiabang community all appreciated his conscientious work.
Like Daniel, Bethany Sootheran and Jeff Sootheran, an American couple from New York State, also joined the front line of fighting against the epidemic.
Bethany and Jeff helping deliver vegetables and food for community residents
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Sootheran family are worried about them and hoped they could return to America, but Bethany and her husband decided to stay in Suzhou after a serious consideration.
“Suzhou is our second home. Many Chinese friends here are like family to us. They helped and supported selflessly, so we decided to stay to make our own contributions.”
Bethany and Jeff volunteered in the local epidemic prevention and control team. They help check people returning to Suzhou, spread related knowledge and deliver food to community residents. Besides, they keep up communicating with other expatriates living in the community since the end of January.
Jeff using a loudspeaker to popularize knowledge on epidemic prevention and control
Apart from the efforts above, Bethany and Jeff also stayed in touch with their friends abroad to help relieve the shortage of medical supplies in Suzhou. It was days ago when Jeff and his friends sent a box of disinfectant to Chengbang community in spite of the rain.
Jeff and his friends sending disinfectant to the community.
“Jeff’s cap was all wet when he came.”, said Yin Jing, Secretary of Chengbang community. Bethany and Jeff have been friends with Yin for many years.
Bethany’s mother is an Art teacher in America
She appeals to her students to support China through painting brushes
03 Support Wuhan, Support China
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Civilization Office of Suzhou Municipal Government and Suzhou Volunteers Association took immediate action to call on volunteers and staff of New Era Civilization Practice Center to join the battle against the epidemic in many ways. As of Feb. 15, Suzhou has organized more than 40,000 volunteering activities and a total of 600,000 volunteers rendered their services.
The volunteer translation team initiated by School of Foreign Languages of Soochow University has been busier than before. Apart from the construction and maintenance of multilingual web pages, volunteers also collected information on aid supplies from Japan, Vietnam and Ukraine and helped determine whether the supplies matched domestic standard for medical appliances.
“With the help of Western Returned Scholars Association, more and more people came to notice the website”, said Zhu Sujing, Deputy Dean of School of Foreign Languages of Soochow University, “Online diagnosis will greatly reduce the risk of cross infection. Though we can’t fight against the epidemic together with medical workers in hospital, we can make our own contributions by putting into practice our professionalism in languages.”
Goran Martinovic, the “Philanthropic Boxer” from Croatia, is as busy as Suzhounese. As the COVID-19 continued to spread, Goran came to know that many hospitals in Wuhan are in shortage of medical mask. He contacted with his friends to buy medical masks throughout Europe. At first, he paid for his friends to buy 50,000 medial masks in Croatia, but Goran didn’t expect it was in short supply there either. Goran contacted with friends from neighboring countries trying to buy the masks. They made online phone call again and again and finally purchased 20,000 masks. That cost Goran two-month salaries.
WeChat History of Mr. Goran
Except for medical masks, Goran wants to do more to support the front line in Wuhan. His Chinese friends all said they feel Goran’s true love to China.
Stories of those volunteers deeply moved us.
All the things the volunteers have done will build up our confidence and power to win the battle against COVID-19. Love wins!