Jacqueline Hwang, Yi Ding, Cixin Wang, Eric Chen, Ying Wu, Xiaoyan Hu

Asian American University Students’ Experiences during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Study

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • General Psychology
  • Genetics
  • Development
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

In addition to the unprecedented challenges and stressors that university students faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian American students experienced specific hardships due to COVID-19-associated xenophobic attitudes, harassment, and assault against people of Asian complexions. This qualitative study aimed to explore the ways in which Asian American university students’ experiences during the pandemic changed their views of their identities as Asian Americans by analyzing in-depth interviews of four case study participants. Secondary analysis of two waves of interviews, which were conducted during the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and during a six-month follow-up, and primary analysis of a newly conducted third wave one year after the initial outbreak yielded 12 themes that captured the essence of the Asian American university students’ experience and redefining of their identity during the pandemic. The four participants identified these themes across four categories: Experiences and Events during the Pandemic; Categorization of Asians in America; Confronting Asian Discrimination; and Renewed Sense of Identity. The longitudinal findings revealed direct experiences and perspectives regarding the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on Asian communities, as well as the impact of the various social and political events during this time period, such as the Black Lives Matter Movement (2020) and the 2020 US presidential election. The implications, limitations, and future directions are discussed.

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