I Am An American Mom in Beijing and This Is How the Pandemic Unfolded Here

Kelly Ryner is an ex-pat living in Beijing, China. Last week she posted about her experience living in China during the initial outbreak of Covid-19 on Facebook.

China via Kelly Ryner

Living in China with COVID-19

Here is her post:

“Greetings from Beijing! I know, I’m lousy about keeping up on Facebook and I haven’t opened it since Christmas, but as I see all of the news breaking in the US, I couldn’t help but want to jump in and let all of our friends know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve been on “government lockdown” since the last week of January now and the spread of COVID-19 is barely a trickle proving it does work. 

In the last week of January we were in denial, couldn’t believe this was happening as all of the theme parks and movie theatres and schools closed until further notice by government mandate overnight. Lots of talk about overreactions because this sounded like it was just another strain of the flu.

The first week of February was Fear and Depression about what this meant for the economy compounded by all of the flights getting canceled and wondering if we had done the right thing staying here. Tracking down our employees, making sure they were safe and self quarantining as instructed by the government and getting their computers delivered so that we could all start working from home. 

Somewhere in the second week of February came Acceptance. Everyone was following the rules, and I was doing my research to understand the facts as being delivered by the medical community rather than journalists. A tremendous help to my peace of mind. 

We were assured that grocery stores would operate as normal, so nobody panicked hoarding goods and it gave us an excuse to get out of the apartment every 3 days to do a little food shopping. 

For those that don’t love to cook, restaurants kept cooking and kept the delivery guys busy. Delivery happens a lot faster with no traffic! Everyone’s temperature is taken looking for fevers as they come in and out of their communities, any shops, cafes or eateries. Starbucks closed a huge percentage of their shops for a few weeks, but they’ve started opening back up again for take-out. 

In these last few weeks, traffic is starting to pick up as businesses start reopening. It was eerie the many weeks of silence. Peaceful at the same time. 

Spring has sprung so we grabbed a little sunshine yesterday near the Forbidden City at a place that would normally be packed shoulder to shoulder with local tourists and practically had the place to ourselves. We took the opportunity to drop our masks for a bit and snagged a photo. 

All I can say is listen to the scientists, don’t panic, follow the rules, and try to enjoy a quieter life for just a bit. It’s a wonderful time to do all those little things around the house you never have time to do. It will be a few weeks. We are starting week eight now and on our way back into the office . . .

Wishing you all love and good health!”

Kelly’s conversation with Grown and Flown

In a conversation today with Grown and Flown, Kelly says that she has enjoyed getting back to work in her design studio, and she knows that they were all very fortunate to be able to work from home and feel productive.

She adds that “there are still a lot of rules to follow as businesses head back into the office, but in general the air of positivity here right now is wonderful. You can tell people are smiling under their masks.”

Kelly tells Grown and Flown that she was, “overwhelmed by the global reaction to what started out as just a quick note to a small cluster of friends and family. I’m grateful to know that by allowing my story to go public it has brought so many people a little bit of calm.”

She says that she first became aware of the seriousness of the epidemic at the end of January when the Chinese government announced the closing of all theme parks and tourist attractions for what is one of the busiest holiday weeks of the entire year. She said that during the first two weeks she did a “little manic house keeping while worrying about the economy” and what getting sick would mean.

But once she settled into acceptance and got used to any journey outside of her apartment requiring multiple temperature checks and signing in and out with an ID and phone number at every destination, she started exploring some new recipes and making fancier meals and baked goods on the weekend in her small kitchen in Beijing which was “no small feat.”  

She wrote a long letter and sent it around to a few close friends and family but never considered posting on Facebook until Covid-19 started “really rolling out around the world, I was stunned at how little governments had been paying attention to what was going on in China and I knew what it felt like to be in denial and fear.” 

Kelly says that when she took the photo attached to her Facebook post she “had experienced such a beautiful spring weekend and the thought of going back to the office was exciting. So I just wanted to let some people know that if they do what China did, this virus can be controlled. I love the fact that by sharing my experience I have brought comfort to others. That’s a life worth living.”

Shared with permission from Kelly Ryner Kelly the President of Thinkwell Asia.

More to Read:

This Mom From Italy Wants Americans to Know This About Covid-19 and Teens

A Nurse On the Front Lines Asks Young People to DO THE RIGHT THING

About Helene Wingens

Helene Wingens has always been passionate about painting pictures with words. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in psychology and three years later from Boston University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. In a year long clerkship for an appellate judge Helene honed her writing skills by drafting weekly appellate memoranda. She practiced law until she practically perfected it and after taking a brief twenty year hiatus to raise her three children she began writing a personal blog Her essays have been published in: Scary Mommy, Kveller, The Forward, and Grown and Flown where she is Managing Editor. You can visit Helene's website here

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