Pedagogical Journey

A Missed Week

June 28, 2024 – Having to prioritize my time and work

I think this photo is one of my most favourite family photos I have before my mother got really sick and passed away. Of course, it’s a selfie at a Chinese restaurant in Burnaby, BC that was near to where my parents lived. Yesterday was her birthday. She would have been 87 years old. She loved going to Chinese restaurants as much as I love eating Chines food. Admittedly, I’ve been overdosing on Chinese dumplings since returning from Montreal. I can’t get enough of them. If it’s not Chinese food, then it’s Vietnamese or Japanese food. I can get enough Asian food. Most times it’s frozen dim sum or Costco soup dumplings. When I eat Chinese food, I feel closer to my mom and my perceived sense of what my Chinese/Cantonese heritage is/was.

I regret having missed last week’s blog post. The blog post started with an image of those steamed frozen dumplings and a reflection of bumping into a “former student” in Montreal. He was not a “former student” per se. At that time, I just left teaching and he was still in high school I believe he was in Grade 11 or 12. I was becoming a school trustee. It was 2011 and we pulled together in the Pulling Together Canoe Journey, which is a weeklong event during the summer that attempts to build relationships between Indigenous youth and the police. I was a community member and pulled with my former school district. I just loved this student. I called him A-MAIZE-ING… because he was. He reached out to me via FB messenger while I was in Montreal.

We were meant to meet in Montreal. It was like no time had passed, but we had a many things to report on with life ranging from schooling to careers to family to relationships. We walked around his neighbourhood and went out for dinner in Verdun. It was absolutely delicious. Yes, it was shrimp wonton soup with noodles. It was a hot day, but it was something I needed after a week’s worth of very rich and buttery food. LOL. In our conversation, he spoke about a person he knew from UBC. Elder Larry Grant was an elder in residence at UBC and his brother Howard E. Grant is a Musqueum councillor. My friend sent me articles and video link to “All Our Father’s Relations” from the Knowledge Network. I shared that I was learning more about Chinese-Canadians in BC and my friend connected me to these people’s stories.

As soon I came home from Montreal a couple of weeks ago, I took a deep dive in watching the video and reading the news articles and links. The Howard’s were raised with Indigenous culture, language, and values from their mother’s side and were on a journey to learn more about their Chinese heritage from their father’s side. Much like the video “Bamboo and Cedar,” the stories these people tell are eye opening and grounding at the same time. When people as me if I am Indigenous, First Nations, or Native, I did not realize until recently that these questions were valid. There is a history of Chinese-Indigenous children in BC. I thought it was because I don’t look like a “typical” Chinese person, but asking if I have Indigenous heritage is historically valid.

I take much joy in learning more about Chinese-Canadian history in BC, more than I thought I would. I feel more connected to who I am and I am able to sense-make or reason with some behaviours and feelings which brings much a lot of solace and inner-peace. I miss my mom greatly and I believe that she has many stories to share that she chose not to during my formative years. I don’t have bad feelings about that… now. I am understanding that it was acceptable, if not encouraged to live life as a Canadian. Not having the language also served as a barrier to learning more about my heritage and family history. So, I will go with what I know… Cantonese food, dim sum, and congee… to provoke good feelings and memories. For that, I am grateful.

Seeking Independence

June 18, 2024 – A Week in Montréal Conferencing

Nothing beats starting the day with an Illy cappuccino… to be complemented with a hotel breakfast (one of my favourite things to do). It’s so interesting when I thought that coming to this conference would be a hurdle, when really it served to fill my cup, validate my work, and exercise many opportunities to be independent. The more that I am learning more about myself and what I am able to do, I reflect on these moments feeling satisfied, secure, and surprised. I say “surprised” because I spent a good part of my life being number 3, the wife, or the dependent. Admittedly, I did not do this trip 100% on my own. I continue to need some scaffolding (i.e. my brother helping me out with the hotel and how to take the 747 bus at YUL) but I feel really confident and grateful for the many opportunities to try, explore, and wonder.

I managed to get to Montréal from Prince George, get to my hotel, and navigate the Metro to get to the various places of which my conference was held. To navigate the Metro was an accomplishment. I know that the folks who designed the underground transportation made it for people like me, but I was able to figure it out, use is almost everyday I was in Montréal, and reach destinations that were not just the conference venues but to other destinations to meet with friends or see the sites. It was very serendipitous to change my hotel (due to the labour dispute at the university) to be at a hotel that had big rooms, excellent service, and located close to the Metro downtown. I could not have planned it any better… but really, I had luck on my side. Furthermore, the 5 sessions I presented in went well. Loved connecting with others.

As I am moving towards writing an ethics application to pursue an autoethnography, I am more cognizant that I am on my pedagogical journey… still. It’s just a new chapter. My pedagogical journey, of which I wrote about at some length after I left teaching in K-12 schools, is something that I am continuing to do and part of this journey is learning more about who I am a a person and practitioner. I have also learned (from this trip and beyond) that I make my path. That’s it. My journey is not dependent on others. I am the maker of my success, failures, and set backs. This is not to say that there are no barriers, but it’s my job to find ways to get around or overcome them. My job aso includes doing what makes me happy. As my friend had said to me on this trip, “It doesn’t matter to me.. you have to do what what’s best for you… it’s your life.”

Yes, it is. And I am figuring out what makes me happy. I love that #oneword2024. What makes me happy? I love conferencing. I love connecting with folks. I love a hotel breakfast. I am also loving my independence and willingness to navigate this world without fear and with the help of others. Lots of unlearning and relearning has engulfed the last year and a half, but I have never been happier. My freedom and independence has been something that I have been craving all of my life, but never felt that I deserved or was worthy of this way of being. Now, I understand that I do not have to live my life to please others, to achieve other people’s approval, or to do things that don’t align to my values or beliefs. I can do what best for me. This learning is big for me (which may be obvious to others). Right now, it’s liberating. Feels great!!