Building Resilience and Connection during the Pandemic: Using Trauma-Informed Pedagogy in the Teaching of Chinese and Italian Cultures Through Noodles


The experience of trauma, both national and personal, may inhibit learning and decrease learner motivation. As the pandemic raged globally, professors investigated new pedagogies in order to interact effectively with students in an unpredictable world. Our students had experienced a myriad of hardship, isolation, uncertainty, and fear by the time they enrolled in our summer online course, Noodle Narratives on the Silk Road: A Cultural Exploration of China and Italy through the Noodles. While redesigning our course, we implemented trauma-informed pedagogy to create a safe environment and meaningful activities, allowing our students to reexamine their relationships with food, themselves and their families. The pedagogy we drew from helped our students empower each other by sharing culinary experiences, developing new insights about food and cultures in the process. We argue that teachers can overcome the challenges of trauma and inspire learning by showing care and empathy and building empowerment and resilience into their teaching. In this paper, we will introduce the principles of trauma-informed pedagogy and share our course design and activities to illustrate how these principles were implemented. One example we utilize to describe our approach involves our midterm project and a website that allowed students to share from a multitude of perspectives what it means to make and cook noodles during a pandemic. Overwhelmingly, students affirmed that making and writing about food forged important connections. The enjoyable, hands-on, and reflective learning experience enhanced student agency and allowed them to become more resilient in the midst of a global crisis.

Author Information
Hong Li, Emory University, United States
Christine Ristaino, Emory University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2021
Stream: Education / Pedagogy

This paper is part of the ACCS2021 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by amp21