By Samantha Pak
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
While COVID-19 may affect a person physically, going through a global pandemic also affected many people’s mental health.
In the Northwest Chinese Writers Association (NCWA)’s new anthology, “Hidden Trauma,” writers from around the world share stories about what they have been going through, the mental health issues they have been experiencing, and how they have overcome these struggles. The book, which was released in June, is a followup to the organization’s anthology, “Witnessing the Pandemic,” which was a compilation of stories about how the pandemic affected people’s external lives throughout the Northwest—which encompassed Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. “Hidden Traum” focuses on writers’ internal struggles.
When the book’s chief editor, Jian Golder, who is also a current member and previous president of the NCWA, pitched the idea for “Hidden Trauma,” she said people were hesitant. They would be asking people to share very private experiences and possibly open some of their old wounds. But the Spokane resident knew it was important for people to talk about whatever it was they were facing.
“If you don’t speak up, if you don’t seek help, it will cause a lot of problems in our society. You have to speak up to heal,” she said, adding that sharing these stories was also about people supporting each other—another important piece in healing. “You help me, I help you, too”
No easy feat
The NCWA put out the call for stories in October 2022. During the submission period, which ran through January, they received more than 100 submissions from all over the world, including the United States, China, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, Germany, Spain, Australia, and more. From these submissions, Golder said they winnowed things down to about 50 stories that would be published. Submissions were written in English and Chinese and once they selected the stories that would go into the book, Golder said she and her six fellow editors got to work—not just editing the stories, but also translating as the book was printed in English and Chinese.
Editing was no easy feat as the NCWA members are all volunteers, Golder said, with full-time jobs, families, and other responsibilities. Because of this, most of their work together was done late at night. They were often busiest after midnight, Golder said with a laugh.
“Hidden Trauma” is divided into four chapters, according to Golder. The first focuses on stories from mainland China. The second chapter includes stories from the United States and other regions around the world. The third chapter is all about healing and overcoming struggles. And in the fourth chapter, Golder said they focus on Hand In Hand Farm, a nonprofit out of Lebanon, Oregon that specializes in equine therapy as a means of healing.
Seeing people’s hearts
Golder said after learning about Hand In Hand, co-founder David Berger’s story, and the work they do, she and other members of the NCWA traveled to Lebanon—which is about 80 miles south of Portland—to see them at work. After that visit, they knew Hand In Hand deserved their own chapter.
“I was really, really moved,” Golder said about the experience, adding that it wasn’t just Hand In Hand that affected her. “I cried a lot when I did the work (on the book).”
This is because reading these stories—her favorite part of the whole publishing process—was seeing people’s hearts.
And despite the book’s title, Golder said these are stories about people overcoming their struggles and that’s what she hopes readers will get out of “Hidden Trauma.” She wants them to feel heartened, hopeful, and to know that if they are struggling, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.