Over the past four to five years many expats working in China have, for a variety of reasons, found themselves outside of the country not by their own choice. Many left in 2018–19 due to visa problems or new regulations that made their work untenable.
A large number of expats found themselves stuck outside of China over the Spring Festival holiday in 2020 when China abruptly closed its borders in an effort to suppress the spread of COVID-19. They had packed their suitcases and departed the country (often for the warmth of Thailand or other Southeast Asian nations) for what they thought would be a couple of weeks. Very few have been able to return. Some are still in Southeast Asia; others have returned to their home countries and are living with relatives or bouncing from place to place while trying to continue their work or studies in China virtually. All the while they wonder when (or if) they can return to their homes in China.
Last year we ran a series of blog posts about this “exile” community of teachers, students, business owners, and NGO leaders who are grieving the loss of the work they were called to do. The disruptions of exile have also deeply impacted family life as well, and specifically children.
Imagine the confusion for young children who left their toys at home when they went on vacation, and then never returned. Instead, they found themselves back in the land of their grandparents, often bouncing from one temporary home to another.
What about them? What has pandemic exile life been like for them?
A friend and former colleague, Samodi Tang, has written a children’s book, Three Little Pandas in a Pandemic, telling the story of shepherding three young children through the disruptions of pandemic life. Here is Samodi’s description:
Based on a true story of our family of “Pandas” in the pandemic and how our short vacation turned into a year away from their home and all the up’s and down’s that really DID happen!
Brother, Sister, and Baby Panda learn what it means to wait, trust, and hope during times of uncertainty. At the end of the book there is a section for kids to write/draw and process their own pandemic story! This book is one that children of all ages (and adults!) can relate to, use to document their pandemic experience, and hold onto for years to come to look back on this unprecedented time. Everybody has a story, this is just ours and we hope it can encourage and bless others.
Beautifully illustrated by Allie Wong, it is a heart-warming story with an important message for young and old alike.
Those in a similar situation as the Tangs will find this book particularly meaningful. The rest of us can be encouraged as well.
It is available on Samodi Tang’s Etsy shop.
Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio
Are you enjoying a cup of good coffee or fragrant tea while reading the latest ChinaSource post? Consider donating the cost of that “cuppa” to support our content so we can continue to serve you with the latest on Christianity in China.