Teacher from China continues educating from Utah despite COVID-19

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WEBER COUNTY (ABC4 News) – The coronavirus or COVID-19 continues to postpone travelers’ plans. It’s also preventing people from getting home. One teacher from China knows that all too well. She is stuck in Utah but is making the most out of her experience.

ABC4’s Jordan Verdadeiro met with Rita Ao on what she’s doing for her students in China and students here in Utah.

Ao says since the outbreak of COVID-19, teaching through webcams has become a norm in China.

Her Chinese name is Juhua, but she is going by the name Rita, to make it easier to communicate with her American students.

“This is a good time, to let them know the world,” said Ao.

Ao hopes to bring two different cultures together in a time where people are having to stay apart from one another.

“At the beginning, they can not even go out. They have to stay at home. Some of my kids at that point have already been home almost forty days,” said Ao.

She’s having her students in China, send her photos and videos of them doing projects and labs for her science class. Ao then connects with schools and parents in northern Utah to keep her students at home excited and educated.

“We can do a lot of things from home, you know. So they can do it with American kids, together, sometimes they challenge together, then they learn from each other,” said Ao.

She has family in Ogden. When the outbreak struck, she couldn’t go back to China. Schools in her area have also been closed.

“She’s not alone. I know several people, in her situation on both sides of the fence actually,” said home school mom in Davis County, Angela Richens.

Richens recently teamed up with Ao because she likes to get involved with international teaching. She says it’s important for people to know coronavirus can affect anyone and doesn’t discriminate.

“When people take it a step further and they just look at Chinese people and they feel fearful of connecting with them without even knowing where they are from, or what they’re situation is… it’s really unfortunate,” said Richens.

Richens encourages others to connect with people internationally, despite fears of the virus, and not to judge by appearance.

Ao says she hopes to continue to connect students in America and China and is eager to partner with other schools and parents here in Utah.

Juhua “Rita” Ao says to contact her cell if interested in doing a class with her students in China. Her number is 616-272-9291.

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