It was a week not measured in time but in trash bags. So many bundled and carried to the garbage that Ginger Chen ’20 lost count.
When she learned that Chapman University was moving to remote instruction and essentially closing the campus to protect the health of all involved, Chen quickly found someone to sublet her room, sold her furniture and packed up the most important pieces of the life she had built in Orange County over her four years at Chapman. The rest of her belongings she donated or bagged for disposal.
“I left so much behind,” said Chen, a senior screenwriting major.
Feeling anxiety near her Bay Area home
Now that Chen is back living with her mom in San Francisco (her dad is also nearby, taking care of her grandparents), the anxiety she first experienced has shifted, but it hasn’t gone away. She feels the sting of anti-Asian hate, which is why she imposed her own stay-at-home order.
“I’ve been feeling a lot of fear stepping outside,” she says.
Not far from her home, an Asian American man was harassed in a scary incident caught on video. She has seen her mom get shoved off a bus. Chen herself has been called racial slurs.
It’s no surprise that hate groups have been fostering unrest during a time when Americans are fearing a virus that is said to have begun in China, says Peter Simi, an associate professor of sociology at Chapman. Simi studies white supremacists and co-authored the book “American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement’s Hidden Spaces of Hate.”
Still, Chen has found ways to fight through the fear, building on the sense of safety she got from spending many rewarding hours in the Cross-Cultural Center at Chapman.
“People are trying to make things better,” Chen says.
Count Chen among them as she champions a nonprofit called BAYCAT, where she has worked as an intern and teaching assistant, fighting racism through storytelling. It’s a good fit for Chen, who is a storyteller at heart. She has adapted to remote learning by throwing herself into the second draft of her thesis screenplay, which she’s been workshopping thanks to remote-learning tools that unite her with classmates and Professor Paul Wolansky in Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.
“I am part of a community,” she says. “I miss being in a physical space with people, but we will get that again.”