Yes, I was born and raised in Canada. But yes, I am also 100% Chinese. O Canada, our home and native land. A land of ethnic, religious, and of course cultural diversity. We have free health care, high life satisfaction, and among other things, political stability. It is no surprise that there is an increasing number of people immigrating into this country. In fact, in 2017 more than one Canadian in five might be foreign born.
Both my parents were refugees. Yes like the coming here with nothing, escaping a shitty economy, seeking political stability, starting from scratch kind of refugee. They left in order to seek the freedom and liberty that was not offered in the Eastern world. And they did it at approximately the same age that I am right now. Just imagine dropping your life, venturing to a new place, not knowing the language, and quite literally building a new life from the ground up. To me, there is no one more resilient and empowering than someone who has left their home in order to seek a better life.
This summer, I had the opportunity to volunteer at a primary school in the small city of Hsinchu, Taiwan. The people that I met were all extremely kind and respectful. They all had a zest for life that was incredibly refreshing to see. I met some senior high students, and their fascination towards a Western life even got me excited. I was immediately bombarded with questions as to why I’m travelling, what I like about Taiwan, what Canada is like, etc. Counter to how (in my humble opinion) the majority of foreigners are treated in North America. Most of us aren’t interested in learning about foreigners and their stories. Some of us are even angry that they’re just so different.
“Why did you come to our country if you can’t speak our language?”
“You’re pronouncing it wrong.”
“You’re so Asian! What a FOB.“
I’ll be honest – I have had these thoughts before and I have probably even said some of these things myself. When I was younger, I hated how different I was. I hated how my food was so Chinese, how my customs were so Chinese, my clothes, my everything. Now, being grown up I know how important it is to understand and appreciate where you come from. I absolutely love my culture. Without it, I would not be me. I owe it to my parents for raising me in a way where I got to keep our Chinese heritage, but also incorporate our Western life too. This realization and grown appreciation for my culture has inspired me. I’m going to be writing a series of blog posts about everything from refugees to cultural food to my own experience being a Canadian-born Chinese. Welcome to my blog series: Discovering My Culture.