The coronavirus has not only ravaged countries around the world with an alarming death toll and economic hardship, but also through heightening anxieties and igniting hatred and discrimination. These are dark times for us.
But some have responded by lighting the way forward to spread a little more love and understanding, like Sara Jaaksola, a Finnish woman in Guangzhou who runs a Chinese language teaching business and is married to a local man. Here’s what she said:
I’ve been living in Guangzhou for 10 years, probably will stay here for the next 10 years as well. I feel this is my city, this is the place where I feel like home. So when fear and hate spreads faster than the virus, I feel responsible for doing something about it.
So she created a social media campaign, sharing her love for Guangzhou and asking others to do the same. And she got 80 other residents to join in, posting their own uplifting photos declaring their affection for the city. She shared the backstory behind it all:
To share a little personal story. My local sister-in-law sent a message in our family WeChat group: “Check out this news and be careful when being in touch with foreigners”. I felt my heart broke.
All my years in Guangzhou I’ve been trying to work as a bridge between the Chinese and foreigners. I moved here because I love the language and the culture. I’ve been married to my local husband for 6 years and our daughter is 4.
After all of this, she sent me this message. Not just a stranger on the street, but my family member. Telling me I should be careful when seeing my students and friends. That other should be careful when seeing me and my daughter.
I decided then, that I can’t stop when I feel hurt or sad, that is exactly the time to show everyone that we all can live together in Guangzhou. That we don’t need to be afraid of each other, instead we should learn to understand each other.
Head on over to Sara’s blog to read the whole story and also view all of the touching personal photos from other Guangzhou residents. She proves that, while fear may be contagious, so is love. Pass it on.