Jasmine is from Wuhan, originally… Abandoned as a baby in Hankou train station, she was adopted to a White British family and grew up in England. For Jasmine, Wuhan was just a word on a piece of paper until now. Suddenly, since the outbreak of COVID-19, everyone is talking about the place where she was born and she’s no longer able to ignore her past and those she left behind.
Wait I’m From Wuhan is the story of a Chinese adoptee struggling to decide whether or not to search for her birth family told via a series of Instagram and blog posts. Bombarded with images of masked faces and the deserted streets of Wuhan, Jasmine’s head fills with questions about her Chinese family. Is it too late for her to find them?
The story began on Wednesday 1st July with Jasmine’s first posts on her blog and Instagram page. A new blog was posted every Wednesday for the following three weeks. Jasmine stayed in regular contact with her followers on Instagram posting every day throughout the month of July 2020.
Creator Naomi Sumner Chan reflects on the process;
Wait I’m From Wuhan is my very first piece of digital work so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of response. I was worried people wouldn’t relate to a fictional character or other adoptees would be annoyed that their stories and experiences were being told by a person who did not really exist. While the first few days were quiet in terms of responses/comments, soon people started to talk back to Jasmine and I saw that her story DID resonate and have relevance to people from all over the world. People have visited the blog from over 20 different countries which is really exciting – I expected visitors from America, Canada, UK and Australia but we’ve also had people from Finland, Afghanistan, India and Andorra which was a lovely surprise.
“Thank you for posting Naomi. My 21 year old daughter is from Hubei, and we met each other and spent a week together in Wuhan doing adoption paperwork and visiting all of the beautiful sites. Yes, no one in the U.S. had ever heard of it, and now everyone has.”
(Leslie – Adoptive Parent)
” I love this project!! Thank you so much for sharing. I also read the accompanying blog post, which I could really relate to, in the sense that when you say a city in China that’s not Beijing or Shanghai, people don’t really know how to respond. I also largely took for granted when I was younger that my birth parents would always be there when and if I decided to search.”
(Charlotte, Chinese adoptee)
“Jasmine’s blog has been something I look forward to reading, at a time when much of the news and media we consume is so negative. She tells a story that many transracial adoptees share in a relatable but thought-provoking way. It’s also topical and has shone a light on the experiences of Chinese and Asian, adoptees who have experienced racism among other challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, and given a voice to those of us, myself included, who may be afraid or unable to articulate our feelings around the current climate so well.”
(Hannah Mei, UK meet ups coordinator for China’s Children International)
Wait I’m From Wuhan is free to access via the weblink and Instagram page but if you would like to support the work of artist Naomi Sumner Chan and to help Chinese Arts Now to continue to support more artists through this very tough time then please do consider contributing some money via the link above – the project has a suggested donation price of £5.
Homemakers Project Overview
Homemakers is a series of new commissions, where we invite our favourite artists and artistic partners to combine to create work at home, for an audience who are also at home.
We’re not pretending that all art can be experienced online just as satisfactorily as in person; but we want to demonstrate the innovation of artists who work all kinds of forms, by inviting them to respond to this very specific context. We want to bring contemporary new performance to audiences all over the world, in all its form-flexing, mind-expanding, surprising subversive brilliance.
About Naomi Sumner Chan
Naomi is a Manchester based playwright and dramaturg fuelled by salt and vinegar crisps and cups of tea. Her work has been performed at theatres across the North of England and in London including York Theatre Royal, CAST, Oldham Coliseum, Arcola Theatre and Theatre 503. Her play
Same Same Different was commissioned by Eclipse Theatre and toured to venues across the North of England in 2019.
She leads new writing company Brush Stroke Order and is currently the facilitator for Yellow Earth Academy North’s Writers Group. Wait I’m from Wuhan is her first digital project.
@naomisumner on Twitter
About Chinese Arts Now
Chinese Arts Now (CAN) is the first National Portfolio Organisation awarded by Arts Council England to produce and present contemporary performing arts work that explores Chinese themes, stories and art forms. ‘Wait I’m from Wuhan’ is one of six digital commissions that CAN is supporting this year. The work will also be part of CAN Festival 2021, which is an annual festival that brings a diverse range of contemporary performing and digital arts to the public.
@chineseartsnow on Twitter
@chineseartsnow on IG