Ruth Kallman, graduate of the Master of Education at Southern Cross University, was working as a teacher at an international school in the Sichuan province of China when COVID-19 hit.
Ruth Kallman, graduate of the Master of Education at Southern Cross University, was working as a teacher at an international school in the Sichuan province of China when COVID-19 hit.

SCU graduate ‘living in acute fear’ for 4 months

A SOUTHERN Cross University graduate who was in China as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded says she has been living in "acute fear".

Ruth Kallman, who has a Masters of Education from SCU, has been working as a teacher at an international school in the Sichuan province in China when COVID-19 hit with shocking severity.

She said there was a lot of confusion and little to no realisation that it would become a pandemic that would rage across the globe.

In China, it was an increasingly terrifying time as the government moved to contain the spread of the respiratory illness and started limiting transport and closing borders.

"Everyone has lived through acute fear since December, and we are trauma survivors,"' she said.

"This is four months on."

Ruth Kallman, graduate of the Master of Education at Southern Cross University, was working as a teacher at an international school in the Sichuan province of China when COVID-19 hit.
Ruth Kallman, graduate of the Master of Education at Southern Cross University, was working as a teacher at an international school in the Sichuan province of China when COVID-19 hit.

She said all international personnel had to be evacuated, across the county, because health insurance couldn't cover them and borders were closing "in the worst possible circumstances".

"It was traumatic," Ms Kallman said.

"We had to evacuate people though the epicenter of a pandemic in the middle of the highest risk season in China because so many people were transiting to get home ahead of the virus and for Chinese New Year, and through international airports - that increased that risk."

She says the school became an instant community "because you pulled together, or it broke you".

Schools closed and didn't reopen, yet classes continued.

The reopening dates kept changing and continue to change.

International teaching organisations had to make big decisions, often in emergency timeframes of just hours or days.

Ms Kallman has learnt many valuable lessons in this process but said if she had just one call to action, it would be to just stay home for four weeks.

"Instead, every country and place has had to come to this realisation by themselves," she said.

"We need to beat this thing internationally.

"It's difficult to do what I suggest, but it's more difficult to suffer for months or years and then have the disease re-emerge again and again.

"A global response is needed."


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