The pod begins gently, interweaving harmless, COVID-inspired vocabulary classes in Mandarin — suppose “masks” and “sneeze” — with security ideas that wanted repeating again in February and March, when the scholars have been writing and recording: Wash your arms with cleaning soap and water “and bear in mind to cowl your mouth and nostril if you cough and sneeze into your elbow. The Mandarin phrase for sneeze is … ” You get the thought.

Certainly one of our favourite moments comes when the scholar narrators (all of them take turns) drop a little bit of COVID-poetry — a well-known saying in Mandarin which means, ‘Illness is available in like a landslide however goes out as gradual as spinning silk.'”

Our judges discovered the format each progressive and informative. “I used to be impressed that these college students took on the story of the century in such a considerate and inventive method, placing it — actually — in their very own phrases, each in English and Mandarin,” stated Chuck Holmes, one in all our judges and the manager director of NPR member station WBHM in Birmingham, Ala.

N’Jeri Eaton, director of programming and new viewers at NPR and one other of our judges, agreed. “I really discovered myself sounding out the phrases as I went alongside,” she stated.

The entry was submitted by Karin Patterson, who teaches English as a brand new language at PS 126/MAT and runs the Dragon Children Podcast Membership after faculty. Patterson instructed NPR that, annually, she begins a brand new membership. In previous years, she’s helped college students design and promote sweatshirts with their faculty’s brand — a dragon, after all — and create a newspaper. This 12 months, Patterson says, she needed to begin a podcast membership “as a result of I heard about NPR’s Pupil Podcast Problem, and I used to be like, ‘Hey, that might be cool!’ “

A number of minutes into the episode, it turns into clear the Dragon Children have extra on their minds than just a few cool vocabulary classes. Quickly, they get all the way down to the enterprise of journalism, shining a light-weight by means of the swirl of misinformation that adopted COVID-19 into their neighborhood.

“There are a number of rumors on the web concerning the coronavirus,” Leo Yu says. “It is best to solely imagine your physician, or the CDC and WHO.”

Earlier than their New York Metropolis faculties shut down, the Dragon Children say these rumors led to hurtful, racist feedback from classmates within the hallways and even within the classroom.

“They have been principally saying how now we have coronavirus as a result of we’re Chinese language,” Amanda Chen remembers within the podcast. “And so they have been saying how us Asians have been becoming a member of collectively, attempting to unfold the virus.”

Amanda’s not alone.

“I used to be in my historical past class, and a feminine pupil requested me the best way to cook dinner bat soup as a result of it was a rumor that the coronavirus was prompted by means of bat soup,” Joyce Jiang says within the podcast, “and she or he was laughing by means of the entire thing and she or he was taking it as a joke.”

However it wasn’t a joke for Joyce, and she or he and her fellow Dragon Children say it is essential to name out discrimination if you hear it. As Leo says emphatically, “if [students are] experiencing harassment concerning the coronavirus as a result of they’re Chinese language, children ought to inform an grownup at their faculty. And if that grownup would not do something, inform one other grownup!”

Which brings us full-circle to the closing phrases of “Masked Children”:

“Please be form to 1 one other.”

At a time when many people are feeling stretched and burdened by present occasions, the phrases aren’t only a suggestion however a cost, to all of us, to do higher.

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