Addressing xenophobia

By Pu-mei Leng

I still feel the need for addressing the issue of Xenophobia in the Chinese classes even though our students are stressed and even depressed now. For my lower-level classes, instead of discussing and debating the issues directly, I only focused on a simple message: intentionally or unintentionally, discrimination and prejudice hurt people. In a crisis we are facing, we do not need to hurt more people. I believe my students can get this simple message.

What I did was to come up with a simple storyline: A panda was sad and hurt because people call the virus “Panda virus” since his parents were from China.  I ran the basic storyline for three classes.

The first class was story-asking, the culprit turned out to be a pig who said “panda virus.”

The second class was a puppet show—I had a bag of finger puppet with me and I told the story. The culprit was a hen (a dog toy with a bikini)

The third class was a story-listening- I drew the figures as I was telling the story.


The class got the same story with different details as their homework.  I gave one class reading comprehension and the others listening comprehension and ask them to draw.

Here is the copy for the homework


但是有一天Jose (Jose is my class character, a stuff toy penguin)看见熊猫哭了,Jose问他为什么哭了,是不是因为有冠状病毒,没有人来看他了。

熊猫说:“不是的,我知道人人都得在家。我不要他们病了。我哭是因为动物园的老母鸡叫病毒”熊猫病毒“ 。他说因为我的爸爸妈妈从中国来。是我们让人病了,是我们让动物园没有人来了。我很伤心。”

Jose 说:“ 当然不是。不哭了,不要伤心了。”

大象听了,大象很生气。河马听了河马也很生气。他们都从非洲来。他们说:“没有人叫Ibola virus 非洲病毒,为什么叫Covid19 熊猫病毒?岂有此理!”


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