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May 2020

Chinese classes and Covid-19

January 2020 at E4E will go down as another milestone in E4E annals; after more than 15 years of successfully providing English classes to needy and eager students in Luang Prabang, Laos, today the sound of words other than English emit from within the walls of our premises - E4E is now the proud provider of Mandarin-Chinese classes! After a proper period of preparations in 2019, we were able to start offering Chinese classes as per January, based on the same principles as we have been offering our English classes, i.e. quality classes for affordable prices, and extra supporting those students who are financially limited but are eager to study. To be able to provide in the manner we offer our English courses, it took some investing to ensure the quality that we wish to provide; a special, tailor-made curriculum was created for E4E and we arranged for a professional, enthusiastic, native speaker to teach the curriculum to our students. Especially for this purpose, she came over from her native Malaysia on a 1-year teaching-visa. And so, with the start of a new year, we started this new endeavour; within days we had 4 (intended) classes up and running and as such an additional 80 to 90 students attending a course at E4E, a great start of this new project!

That was yesterday.

Meanwhile today's reality is one we did not quite foresee or anticipate; although we somewhat became aware of something called the Corona virus sometime during January and February, at the time it did not cause much worry or alarm. Only with increased media reporting since then it became clear that this virus was not just something discovered and contained somewhere in China, but was rapidly spreading globally and causing casualties. Classes at E4E continued well into March and even when we ourselves were wondering if continuing to gather in large groups in confined spaces as people do in our line of work was perhaps not the right thing to do. Official confirmation of that sentiment followed quickly; on 18 March the Lao government issued an announcement that Laos would be in lockdown as from 19 March, meaning that from 1 day onto the next also we at E4E had to cancel our classes and close the centre until further notice but at least for an initial 2 weeks. We are nearing the end of May at the time of writing and after several extensions of the lockdown, we have seen a gradual lifting of restrictions since the beginning of May and were informed last week that, if the current situation remains stable, we will be allowed to resume our E4E activities as per 2 June. For the moment it appears that in Laos we have been fortunate in regard to the Covid-19 impact; during the time a lockdown was imposed the number of infected people here was low, but based on dire situations elsewhere, at that time mostly China and Italy, the logical decision to lockdown was made, a decision from which we benefit today as, according to the official numbers, there have been no virus fatalities and only a handful of active cases remain in quarantine. As such we are fortunate and are looking to return to some kind of normalcy in the following weeks. From a global perspective however we are nowhere near out of the woods, and the impact of Covid-19 will continue and look to be a long-term affair, but for now we relish this small local success and consider it as being the first steps to full recovery.

Chinese class.

World Health Organization.