Rethinking Diversity, Belonging, and Justice: The Pandemic and Vulnerable Populations

Presented By

Fanghong Dong and Yeji Hwang

Presentation Date



Fanghong Dong, Phd, MA, MSN / Yeji Hwang, MSN, RN

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant uncertainty and difficulties for many vulnerable populations with particular challenges faced by minority populations. Asian international students are among these vulnerable minorities and have experienced the additional stress of racial aggression and violence throughout the pandemic.

Fueled by their passion to advocate for Asian international students and to contribute to the larger Penn community, Penn Nursing Postdoctoral Fellow, Fanghong Dong and PhD Student, Yeji Hwang developed a research project in summer 2020, sponsored by the Office of the Provost Campaign for Community Grant. Their project aimed to gain understanding of the association between racial discrimination, social isolation and mental health among Asian international graduate students during the pandemic and to explore the life experiences of those students.

During this Global Bites session, Fanghong and Yeji will share the results of their research, hoping to promote not only greater understanding of the support needed by Asian international students at the current time, but also awareness that international, national, or local events can lead to similar targeting of all kinds of populations based on a number of physical, social, and political characteristics, and that we must always advocate for timely support and protection of vulnerable populations.

“It’s time for us to rethink the concepts of diversity, belonging, and justice. We hope to build bridges between vulnerable populations and others that will create a future in which we can all stand together, especially in challenging times.” – Fanghong Dong, Yeji Hwang