Eileen Guo
Eileen Guo
Independent print + audio journalist

Eileen Guo


Long form print, digital, and audio journalist telling cross-border stories about underrepresented communities.


Select Features


The fight to protect the world’s most trafficked wild commodity

Rosewood is a tropical hardwood prized for its durability, rich color, and fragrant scent, and used to make musical instruments, from guitars and marimbas to violins, as well as high-end, furniture, mainly in China. It is also the world’s most trafficked wild product by value or volume—more than ivory, rhino horn, and pangolin scales combined.

In 2016, Guatemala led the global efforts to add all 300 species of rosewood to Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES.) Three years later, I investigated for National Geographic’s Wildlife Watch the effect that its leadership has had on its internal efforts to stop the trafficking.

leélo en español.

Also see my previous rosewood coverage for south china morning post.


Topic Stories

March 2019

ICE and the Banality of Spin

A few months ago, as news of family separations at the border dominated media coverage and the #AbolishICE movement gathered steam, I decided to better understand Immigration and Customs Enforcement, I had to go to the source material: ICE press releases.

I figured that going directly to the source—or, at least, to the source’s public relations professionals—would help me to understand how the agency’s administrators and workers see themselves and the immigrants that they often target.

In this cultural criticism essay for Topic Stories, I read 3,457 ICE press releases and wrote about what they taught me about the agency’s worldview.


The Alpinist

April 2018

Dreaming of Afghan Mountains

Though Afghanistan is now synonymous with conflict, there was a time when it was known, at least among the world's most elite mountaineers, as a training ground for high altitude ascents in the Himalaya. 

In my cover story for award-winning mountaineering magazine The Alpinist, I recount the efforts of local and international climbers to restore to the country a mountain tourism economy and, for a small group of women mountaineers, a sense of agency and freedom in the country's highest peaks. 



March 2018

Mexico Is Full of America’s Used Clothes

In my second feature on the San Diego-Tijuana border (see my first here), I explore how a taste for fashion at all price points, inequality driven by NAFTA, and Mexico's maquiladora industry helped create a thriving informal economy of smuggled, secondhand clothing in Mexico. 

"We think of borders as clean, finite lines on a map, when in fact they are messy. Borders are the meeting, and often clashing, points of not only distinct geographies but also distinct cultures, values, laws, and even basic definitions. What is clearly one thing on one side can become something else entirely once crossed — and also, temporarily, change in the act of crossing.

Such is the case with used clothes. In the United States, they are discarded goods; once they are in Mexico, they are in-demand commodities. While in transit, they are contraband."

Also available in Spanish.


The Outline

March 2018

In China, ‘Black Panther’ is a movie about America

One weekend in March, I headed to the cinema to watch Black Panther — in China. As a Chinese-American who has already seen — and fallen in love with — the film, I was anxious and a little curious as to how the movie, so steeped in the African-American experience, would translate to the almost completely racially homogenous country of my birth. I desperately wanted both cultures to show their best sides: that this celebration of black culture in America could be recognized as such and would resonate with Chinese audiences, and that China’s anti-foreign impulses could be overcome.

But what I found was that while in America, Black Panther was a movie about the black experience, in China, it was a movie about America.



April 2017

How WeChat Spreads Rumors, Reaffirms Bias, and Helped Elect Trump

In the wake of the 2016 elections, when the mainstream American media was focused on how fake news may have influenced voters on Facebook, Twitter, and Google, I noticed that a parallel phenomenon was occurring among Asian-American voters — especially Chinese-Americans — the country’s fastest-growing minority, on the wildly popular but little-understood Chinese social app, WeChat.

I investigated for the long form section of Wired.com:

“WeChat’s design does not make it easy to fight biases or fake news. Information on the platform spreads quickly within and between WeChat groups, but the sources of information — and therefore their verifiability — are de-emphasized, to the extent that sources are almost completely ignored. As a result, credibility defaults to whomever shared the information last, and whether he or she can be believed. The litmus test for truthfulness has moved from, “is this argument supported by evidence?” to, “is this argument shared by someone whose judgment I trust?” 


 photo credit: Alexia Webster