Dear students and colleagues,
After a long winter vacation, I hope that my letter finds you well and in good spirits. The sudden epidemic infection broke the peace of Spring Festival and affected the normal operation of society. The University had to implement access control management and postpone the beginning of the new semester to ensure the safety and health of our students and staff.
The epidemic is undoubtedly a disaster. It devours life mercilessly and pressures society’s ability to manage and respond, but it also provides people with the opportunity to stop from the fast-pace life of modern society to calm down and be reflective.
In the face of difficulty, human nature is displayed incisively and vividly. Like all of you, I was deeply moved by the medical staff rushing to Hubei Province to help. The efforts they made to fight the virus, the donation of medical supplies from public, nation-wide, and news stories of kindness from strangers during this special period all make me feel warm and full of strength.
As the leader of the UNNC working group of coronavirus prevention and control, I have visited our staff on duty and inspected the epidemic control work on campus. At the gate post, in the canteen and in the dormitory – when we were enjoying the holidays at home, many people were at their posts to ensure our safety.
In the canteen, the manager introduced the emergency work arrangement in detail, from procurement, transportation, storage, food processing to the management of canteen staff; members of the security team take turns to stay on post to ensure access control at our campus gates; our administrative staff collect information and report the conditions of over 10,000 people every day. I believe that behind every dish, every inspection and every statistic is the sense of responsibility and love.
I know that everyone in our UNNC community is contributing to the fight against the epidemic in the way that they can.
I noticed that our student organization, Young Volunteers Association, launched a fund-raising campaign for Hubei, and raised over 200,000 yuan within two hours; domestic and international students have used music, brushes, poems, and “virtual ensemble” to show their support through the power of art and to cheer for Ningbo, Wuhan and China.
I learned that our students, staff and alumni are taking many actions to provide a wide variety of support. People from all over the world went to local pharmacies to purchase medical materials or use their social resources to raise epidemic prevention materials at their first opportunity. Masks, protective suits, goggles - boxes of medical supplies were mailed to China from Nottingham and London from the UK, Dubai and Indonesia.
I saw that our Chinese and international academics are using their professional knowledge to support fighting against the epidemic. Dr. Ali Cheshmehzangi, Head of Department of Architecture and Built Environment, wrote a 10-page report on the Comprehensive Urban Resilience Framework for the City of Ningbo during this period of time; Professor Zhuo Chen, Li Dak Sum Chair Professor in Health Economics who had worked for the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, provided his professional perspective for epidemic prevention and control during multiple interviews with Chinese and international media; Dr. Lei Li, Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy, pointed out ways to go forward for small and medium-sized enterprises amid the coronavirus outbreak.
I also noticed that Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, has sent two open letters expressing concern and sympathy to Chinese staff and students around the world and all members of UNNC as well as the support of the Nottingham community in working together to overcome difficulties.
All of these make me feel the great love and responsibility of everyone at UNNC and let me firmly believe that we will defeat this epidemic.
Here, I would like to express my deep respect and heartfelt thanks to all who have devoted and persevered selflessly for UNNC in the fight against the virus! At the same time, I sincerely appreciate every student and staff member who understands, cooperates and supports our work! It is your trust, support, love and joint efforts that enabled the University to present a gratifying report of no infection case and achieve the victory of the first stage in this fight.
The challenges mount up as the epidemic has not yet ended while the return to campus is on the agenda. When will the new semester start and in what way? How do we carry out teaching? These are the most discussed topics these days. Although details are yet to be finalized, we can be certain that the start of the new semester and the return to campus will be very different this year.
The epidemic caused a disruption to China and to UNNC’s academic arrangement, while the rest of the world carries on nonetheless. Graduation, exchange study, application for further study overseas… every event is important to your life. Disasters highlight people’s spirit, which makes me think of the story about Zhejiang University moving westward during the second Sino-Japanese War. Although in the war-torn era and such a difficult situation, the students and teachers never gave up teaching and learning. Today’s UNNC is facing the disaster of an epidemic, and we also adhere to the principle that underpins a university. As soon as the outbreak situation becomes controllable, according to the government directives, the University will welcome your return with full preparation and enthusiasm. However, the campus experience may not be as good as it was.
Access to campus may not be as free; food in canteens may not be as abundant; services for living on campus may be limited; teaching arrangement can be adjusted; venue resources can’t be fully operated... More “maybe”s can go on and make the university experience not as good as expected. But I believe that, compared to health and study, it should not be so important. As long as we continue to care and support the UNNC community, we can overcome all difficulties. There are many start-of-terms in your life, but for this particular one, you will surely remember for a lifetime.
In this special period, our UNNC community should demonstrate the virtues of being not confused, worried, or afraid, and the ability to love oneself, love others, and love one’s country and the Mother Nature. As a leader of the UNNC coronavirus prevention and control team, I would like to propose an “eight-word” request to all of our academics and students: be tolerant, be rational, be kind and be optimistic.
Going through the epidemic, we should learn to be tolerant. Tolerate the glitches and imperfections in your teaching and learning experience. Don’t let down the hard-working people. Colleagues busy at the front line should also tolerate the criticism, because we know that they are with good intentions.
We, who grow up under the critical thinking education, should take a rational view of disasters. The so-called critical thinking, in my understanding, is the pursuit of science and the ability to perceive things rationally. This should be the core quality of our students and academics.
Kindness is commitment, understanding, and care that people hold for each other. Vincent van Gogh said that where the flower of love blooms, life can flourish. I hope every one of us is loving and being loved.
On social media, quite a few students’ comments show anxiety. I hope you know that there is no need to worry too much - your life’s journey won’t just change its course within several months. Instead, be optimist and positive to the unwanted crisis. The university will fully consider the situation of each type of student, and organize a phased “return-to-campus”, adjust teaching methods, and properly arrange dining and accommodation. Remote teaching, although has its limitations, is the only choice presented facing the epidemic. I hope all academics and students can overcome the difficulties and commit to the teaching and learning. Only with optimism, can we get out of this haze and win a bright future.
Moreover, as the UNNC Party Secretary, I hope all party members, whether academics or students, can continue being the fortress and pioneers in the battle against the outbreak – set an example with your own conduct; never forget where we started; keep the mission in mind; hard work and be courageous.
Students and staff, you are all elites among the intellectuals, and what are the characteristics of Chinese intellectuals? I can’t help but thinking a famous quote of the Chinese poet Fan Zhongyan - “be the first to show concern and the last to enjoy oneself”, which should also represent our view of life and UNNC community’s responsibility. With these words, I would like to encourage all of us to be at the forefront when facing difficulties and leave convenience to others.
We believe that with the global UNNC community working together, we will pass through this difficult time. When the epidemic is defeated, let’s meet again at the beautiful UNNC campus.
Let us, the whole UNNC community, fight alongside the Chinese people, and soon we will see the spring comes.
Leader of the UNNC working group of COVID-19 prevention and control, UNNC Party Secretary
20 February, 2020