On September 14th, almost 1 month into teaching, I was about half-way through my 4-6pm class. All of the classes run on a 2-hour cycle, so each class is 100 minutes with a 10-minute break during the class and 10 minutes after class to switch to the next class.
As usual, I assigned some group work for my students to better practice what we were learning. That class we were discussing tourism, videos for promoting tourism, and learning how to navigate news websites and articles in Spanish. As the students were working in groups, I was walking around the classroom, monitoring their working and helping if they had any problems or questions. Then as I was returning to my desk at the front to prepare for what was next, one of my students said a surprising “Ah!”. She started to whisper with some of her other classmates, and then they all started shouting “地震！地震!” (Dì zhèn). Thankfully I had learned that word meant “Earthquake!”. I did not feel the slight tremble because I was walking around, but my students were able to feel it in their seats and I did see the projector screen move a little bit. I knew that there was a terrible earthquake in a city just 45 minutes away in Tangshan, but that was almost 40 years ago.
We were about 20 minutes still away from when class was supposed to end, but we were the only class on the 5th floor of our building so I don’t know what other teachers may have done. My students quickly got on their phones and showed me verification that there was an earthquake recorded a few hours previously in a nearby town. Since we were on the 5th floor (of an older building) and I knew my students were a bit worried, I let them all leave early and try to stay safe. As soon as I gave the go-ahead, my students were up and out in no time. It was definitely a unique experience for me.