In Progress of Defining

Week 79 – September 22, 2021 – What is my ethnic identity?

Yes. I am overdue on my weekly blog post… AGAIN. I’m not surprised. It was a tough week at work, meaning… busy and cognitively consuming… and I just needed to rest. With full intentions of writing soon after the weekend or at the end of the weekend, it’s now Wednesday. I have a moment to breathe and what I am learning is how to carve out time to what’s important even though there are many things that are pulling at me. I often get distracted by the immediacy of the now. It’s ok to park time to attend to items of priority. For example, my self care, teaching, and writing… I’ve parked and carved time for these items and email piles up. That’s ok. Also, I have learned that people are compassionate. For example, I screwed up on one timeline, I confessed, and in response, they were gracious and kind. For that, I am grateful.

I’m also pausing because I am continuing to wrestle with my ethnic identity in light of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. I am listening to a BIPOC group that assembled at the university, but also I am working with my classes at two institutions about creating a Location Statement, inspired by Dr. Henry Harder at UNBC, to think about our biases, our identity as educators, and our understanding of the Professional Standard 9 (2019) for BC Educators. We are currently reading “Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada” in a masters course in curriculum, assessment, and evaluation I am teaching. I have asked this group and teacher candidates from the teacher education program I teach in to write a location statement. The book, recent reports, the EDI movement, and reflecting on my own experiences are tampering with my ethnic identity, sense of place, and who I am as a person.

Of course, I had to make my version of a Hawaiian breakfast today. It’s not a loco moco, which two beef patties, brown gravy, and potato salad on the side, but it has eggs, rice, Spam, and soy sauce. I find some solace and comfort in this meal. I often go back to it when I feel disconnected or disoriented (for a better word or less). Somehow it grounds me. I guess there are parts of me that wishes I was in Hawaii instead and how Hawaiians are connected to culture through food people, and the land. For some reason, these flavours bring back memories of my mom, being home, and eating “traditional” food. I used quotations there because there was a clear difference what I ate at home as a kid and what was considered “Canadian food.”

I wrote My Location Statement in March 2021, with the same inspiration I bring to my classes this term. In this case, I was preparing for a presentation at a conference with a teacher candidate. I look back at this version of my location statement and parts of it still resonate with me, but parts of it don’t seem to matter anymore. I am planning to write a second version of my location statement. I was hoping to write something very different or maybe keep it the same. It turns out, it will be a bit of both. What’s important to me and why does it matter? Questions to consider when thinking about your location and identity. For me, my ethnic identity is playing with my mind, spirit, and soul. I just wrote a blurb for a book and I was brought to my mom and the role food played in my identity. I had no idea of the importance of my Chinese culture until my mom passed away and when I moved away from the Lower Mainland.

Damn you 50. You have not been kind to me. I have been up and down and all around… and here I am… wondering who I am. This is not a bad place to be. I am challenged by figuring out what’s important to me and why. And in doing so, I am learning more about myself, my values, and my cultural background. I might consider learning my language… Cantonese… at least learn how to read and write it. That seems like a good starting place. I was talking to a colleague the other day and they learn many languages autodidactically. Learning language might connect me to my culture and identity… then, I think about Indigenous People in Canada who are losing their language, thus culture and identity. A few thoughts for now. More to come.