by Xinhua Writers Lou Chen and Ke Gaoyang
CHONGQING, March 24 (Xinhua) -- When 23-year-old Shi Yang received a text on his phone offering him a job, he almost jumped for joy.
The graduate student of the School of Architecture and Construction at Chongqing University was offered a job in a branch of the China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Co., Ltd. headquartered in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province.
The contractor made a name nationwide as one of the main companies to have built two make-shift hospitals in Wuhan -- Huoshenshan and Leishenshan -- within only two weeks.
"This is not only a job offer for me. It is an honor because the hospitals were built to save people in my hometown," he said.
For Shi, the job offer carries much weight. The two hospitals, with over 2,600 beds, were among unprecedented medical and social efforts to battle the COVID-19 outbreak in Hubei, which was once worst hit by the coronavirus.
Shi lives in the Zhangwan District of the city of Shiyan, about a four-hour drive from Wuhan. The district was among the first areas to impose wartime-like lock-down measures.
"The control order was pretty serious. All buildings were in lockdown, and suddenly buying rice and other groceries became a problem," he recalled.
At first, community workers tallied up grocery lists of different families and made group purchases. Later, local supermarkets joined in the service and made home deliveries.
By March 22, Shi's hometown Shiyan reported 673 cases of infection. All but eight have recovered.
Before receiving the job offer, Shi, an only child, was worried about his job prospects as the virus has exerted a heavy toll on the job market and economy. His father works odd jobs as a construction worker, and his mother does not have a stable job.
Shi took the postgraduate candidacy test, but his score was not good enough to make it to the next round of interviews.
On Feb. 11, his university sent 1,000 yuan (about 144 dollars) to his bank account. "It was the school's allowance to help students get over the difficult period. My teacher called me and asked me not to worry, but I knew I had to start looking for jobs," he said.
Affected by the virus, few real estate firms are hiring, but luckily, construction companies are. Shi sent out a few resumes and got some interviews. All interviews and contract signing processes are carried out online.
"My job offer came on the very first day of March. It is such good news. Now all I have to do is to wait for graduation," he said.
As the virus situation eases, many cities like Shi's hometown are being "unlocked." His grandparents stayed with his uncle for the last two months and could not return to their home until recently.
Shi's father was hired to install electricity wires in a newly-built private house. "After a long holiday, everybody is eager to get back to work," he said.
Shi likes playing basketball, and he plays an hour or two with a few other masked youths. "I sometimes forget to put on my mask, but my parents always remind me, which is funny because I was the one who had to convince them to wear masks in the beginning," he said.
"Things are getting better, but no one dares to take any chances," he added.
Around the basketball court, a few people took their children out to play in the spring breeze and sunshine.
"Spring is coming, and everything will be back to normal. I hope that I will soon be able to take my mask off when I play," he said.