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Waseda Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies Seminar Series ​ “Migrants’ education and well-being during Covid-19: The case of Chinese communities in Germany”

Date and venue: January 14, 2021 (Thursday) at 17:00-18:30 (JST) / 9:00-10:30 (CET) / Online (Zoom) ​ Speaker: ​ WANG Zi (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Duisburg- Essen) ​ Zi Wang is postdoctoral fellow and co-investigator of the research project “Language, migration and happiness among Chinese, Japanese and Turkish communities in Germany”, based at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He is the author of The Role of Language in the Happiness of Migrants (Routledge, forthcoming), The Discursive Construction of Hierarchy in Japan (De Gruyter, 2020), and Addressing Migrants’ Well-being During COVID-19 (Migration Studies journal, OUP, 2020). Zi Wang’s works are funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG Individual Research Grant, 2018-2021) and the European Commission (Marie Curie Individual Fellowship, 2021-2023).


The coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing lockdown affected social life in every regard. In critical times, the well-being of vulnerable groups is often at stake. Young migrants represent a case in point. In this talk, I show how young migrants’ educational and well-being needs – both academically and emotionally – during the Covid-19-induced school closure were addressed by community initiatives. Focusing on the Chinese communities in Germany, I present data collected in Chinese heritage language (CHL) schools and show that their programmes had a positive impact on members’ overall well-being. They achieved this by expanding their educational programmes during and after the lockdown. These measures ensured continuity in migrant children’s education, while additional activities and new pedagogical practices addressed their emotional well-being. Furthermore, the extensive online and on-site childcare activities enabled migrant parents to seek employment as the economy reopened.

Implications of this study’s findings are two-fold. First, when regular schools seemed unable to understand the needs and fulfil demands of migrant parents, community-based initiatives filled the gap. Second, the “corona curricula” of these organisations and their focus on well-being refuted the conventional wisdom that Asian parents and institutions of learning place little emphasis on affective dimensions of education. I conclude by underscoring the potential synergy between public institutions and community initiatives in maintaining migrants’ well-being.

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