Christmas in China II

Christmas in China II
JISHIU, HUNAN — My pictures on Facebook and Picasaweb may give you some idea of what my Christmas holiday was like, but here is the text version. Our college had planned to have a big Christmas party/performance like we did last year, but fears of spreading H1N1 scotched that idea. Instead, each class (we have nine groups of 27-40 students each that we call classes) was to arrange for its own Christmas party. While disappointing, the lack of a college-wide Christmas event freed up a lot of time for all of us planning on performing. Last year, the preparations for the big gala pretty sucked away any free time I had, so I was not able to plan any Christmas event of my own device. This year, though, I decided to invite people to my home for a dinner. A few friends had already offered to cook for us, so all I needed to do was to clean up the apartment and get people there. But first, there were some Christmas Eve events. One of our classes, Sophomore Business English G2, held their party in the morning. They had four hotplates going at the same time, cooking up 火锅 huoguo ...

I got a flu shot 5

JISHOU, HUNAN — Today, while I was working on the computer in the office, my deans asked me if I would like to get a flu shot. That’s the way they phrased it, anyway. The real meaning, however, was, “We really expect you to get a flu shot. Today. With the rest of the staff.” But such directness is very un-Chinese. As it was phrased, it took a while for the true meaning of the “request” — or “mandatory option,” as my high school chorus teacher put it — to sink into my thick skull. They caught me while I was in the middle of entering students’ names into the Epals.com website, a task which Epals does not make especially easy by limiting you to 25 names at a time. Distracted as I was, and still without a morning cup of Joe, I stalled and said I would think about it. My British cohort, David, was also likewise pecking away at another computer. He basically said, no. If it wasn’t a requirement, he would rather not. “I try to avoid taking medicines,” he added. Soon after, David left to teach his classes, leaving me alone with two deans, the staff ...

Don’t worry, but H1N1 has found its way to Jishou

JISHOU, HUNAN — It was only a matter of time before swine flu would penetrate into the Chinese heartland. Within a week of classes starting at the university, a student was diagnosed with H1N1. Then another a day later. According to some (unverified) reports, perhaps eight more students may be infected as well. Jishou University has four campuses. The first student diagnosed with H1N1 lives at the old campus, near downtown. The second lives here at the new campus. Their roommates are being monitored as we speak. I haven’t heard any bad news from the other two campuses, medical and foreign languages. Our students have had the fear of God (or something like it, since China is officially atheist) put into them at meetings earlier this week. Wash your hands. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. Throw your tissues away immediately. Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth. If you feel ill or feverish, go directly to the school clinic, do not pass go, do not collect $200. My foreign affairs officer, Cyril Hu, called me to his office this morning to give me an oral thermometer (A mercury one! The USA has all but abolished ...

Flu flies the friendly skies

JISHOU, HUNAN — It should not come as a big surprise that the swine flu (H1N1 influenza virus) has spread very quickly. A lot of people fly internationally now. But epidemiologists in Toronto have found convincing correlation between air travel from Mexico during the early stages of the H1N1 outbreak and the number of reported infections in the destination cities. Their findings are summarized in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine First, here’s their map showing the destinations of air travelers from Mexico during March and April 2008. [Click on the image to see it full-size.] The vast majority of those destinations were in the USA and Canada. The researchers tabulated the number of reported cases of H1N1 infections. The USA and Canada lead the list. China has seen relatively few H1N1 cases, since air travel between China and Mexico is not too common, but reported cases have either involved travelers who had been to Mexico and traveled through the USA, or travelers coming directly from the USA. By comparison, soldiers returning from World War I apparently spread the so-called Spanish flu around the world, leading to a major pandemic in 1918. In response to the pandemic, ...
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