Professor Weiguo Zhang featured in Toronto Star article about social capital

Professor Weiguo Zhang was recently featured in an article titled “Do you have ‘social capital?’ These Mississauga men have used theirs for the greater good” by the Toronto Star. In this article, the author cites Professor Zhang as an example of someone using their social capital to help their community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Weiguo Zhang is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. He specializes in the topics of social demography, sociology of families, and social policy. His research focuses primarily on rural areas of China, investigating the relationship between national population, economic policies, and individual livelihoods.

We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. You can read the full article here.

When COVID-19 hit Mississauga, Weiguo Zhang was worried about how isolated older members of his community would be.

The sociology professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus started an online “tea house” for older Chinese residents to connect with one another.

“I have enlarged my own social network,” he said, explaining that the group started with about 20 members, and grew to 338 members.

He says that many residents who immigrated from Mainland China don’t speak fluent English or French, and during the pandemic weren’t able to visit their friends and carry out in-person routines.

“They take up all the opportunities to learn,” Zhang said, explaining that seniors in the group displayed a resilience, learning about Zoom, listening to presentations, and taking part in the intergenerational English language program.

“By bringing younger students together with older adults,” he said, it wasn’t just about learning English, but also teaching youth about Chinese culture.

Now, there are members from Toronto, Hamilton, Montreal and even B.C., and Zhang believes there’s more social capital between Chinese-Canadians than ever before.

“People are taking the opportunity to make their community stronger,” said Zhang. “It’s truly an amazing experience.”