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An Oral History of Iowa's Chinese Americans and Nationals Experiences during the COVID-19 Pandemic


Project creator



Shu Wan

Graduate Student

University of Iowa


About the project

During the pandemic, the whole Asian American community has confronted the dualthreat: the infection of the Covid-19 virus and the infliction of xenophobic assaults. Parallel to the high risk of exposure to the pandemic in American society, they are targeted by the advocates for xenophobia and nativism, who condemned them as scapegoats of transiting the virus from China to the United States. In one of the whitest states in the country, the Chinese nationals and immigrants in Iowa are vulnerable to the exacerbated racial tension in their everyday life. This project will conduct oral history research in three major towns in Iowa, including Ames, Iowa City, and Des Moines, and collect their stories and testimony and exhibit them to the general public. 

Project members have already conducted interviews with several Chinese students on the campus and collected their stories fraught with frustrations and sadness. Integrated to the institutional oral history project operated by the University of Iowa Libraries, the team members of this research have collected oral history materials on the campus under the University Archivist of the University of Iowa (UI) David McCartney's supervision. According to the preliminary work outcome, in the worldwide pandemic and subsequent nationwide crisis in the United States, they were vulnerable to the fatal disease and the targets of rising Anti-Asian sentiments and victims of exacerbated US-Sino relationship. 

Using the Lepage Center grant funds, the project will extend the geographic scope of this research and integrate the increasing population of Chinese students and residents in other major cities in Iowa. Taking advanced contacts with leaders of a significant Chinese student and ethnic organizations in Des Moines(the largest city in Iowa) and Ames (a college town with a substantial population of Chinese students at the Iowa State University), the project expects to interview over 20 Chinese students and residents in the two cities. 


The Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest
St. Augustine Center, Room 410
Villanova University
Villanova, PA 19085

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