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Caring Chinese teacher cheers up Ukrainians amid COVID-19

“I can finally go for a walk in the park and do some exercises,” said Cheng Huanhuan who teaches Chinese in Ukraine, referring to the end of the two-month COVID-19 restrictions in the European country.

Cheng came to teach at the Music Confucius Classroom jointly established by the Ukrainian National Tchaikovsky Academy of Music and China’s Central Conservatory of Music last September, together with other three teachers from China.

“I majored in Russian in university, so apart from teaching Chinese, I also translate for the music teachers,” Cheng said.

Cheng would be giving lectures to the students were it not for the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, as classes of educational institutions were suspended as a result of the quarantine measures introduced by the Ukrainian government since March 12. “Now I teach Chinese to students online, so I have more spare time,” she said.

Staying at home during the quarantine, Cheng was eager to contribute her part as she saw in the news that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases kept increasing in Ukraine.

“When China was at the hardest time battling the virus, many Ukrainians donated masks to China, and some of them sent us their wishes through videos. That was really heart-touching,” she said, adding that it inspired her to lend a helping hand to the local people to tide over the difficulties together.

To donate masks was the first thing that popped up in her mind.

“Many people, such as sanitation workers and salesclerks in the supermarkets, were still sticking to their jobs during the quarantine period. I felt sorry to see them working without masks, so I shared some of mine with them,” Cheng noted.

She spoke of a sexagenarian employee of a supermarket that she frequently visits, saying the employee was very happy when receiving the masks from her. “He was very hospitable the next time he saw me in the supermarket, and helped me pick the freshest fruits,” Cheng said.

As masks became an increasingly scarce commodity and her stock was running out, Cheng didn’t have many to donate. Therefore, she bought 100 pieces of chocolate, and attached a card on each one of them on which she wrote “Hang in there,” “Everything is going to be fine” and “Take care” in Russian. Every time she went shopping, she would send the chocolate to the people she met.

“They were surprised when receiving the chocolate,” she said, adding that she hoped the sweet chocolate would encourage the locals.

Besides, every time she went grocery shopping, she would buy extra vegetables and eggs and secretly leave them with her elderly neighbors and the security guards.

“One good turn deserves another. By doing these trivial things, I just want to express the friendliness and kindness of a Chinese. I hope we can all join hands to prevail over the difficulties,” she said.

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