I am Canadian. I am Chinese. I am Hakka.
Let’s add another twist. I was born in India, which makes me Indian as well. Confusing? Not really if you’re in my shoes. Looking for diversity and multiculturalism? You’ve found them–right here. The reality is that this is not something that is in my consciousness. These are facts that add to who I am.
Beyond the happy convergence of the physical and environmental circumstances of my being, I consider myself Canadian above all else. I have lived in Canada almost twice as long as I have in my birth country. My only connection to China was a two-week trip in 2010 as a tourist, although I have roots in the Canton province, relatives who are complete strangers to me.
Growing up in India, my first language was Hakka, a Chinese dialect. I went to English schools from the time I was eight. That threw a wrench in my Chinese education and outlook. I think in English, but for some bizarre reason, I count in Hakka as long as I’m doing that in my head. Although all the schools that I attended insisted on teaching Hindi as a second language, my tongue trips without discrimination over every word—and oh, forget about being grammatically correct.
There you have it…my foray into multiculturalism on this beautiful Monday afternoon.
Picture by Jeremy Hsiung
Back in May 2006, when our local YMCA opened its doors, I was there on opening day. Almost six years later, I’m still working out daily. This is the longest I have ever been committed to exercise and a gym. Come to think of it, I’ve started a number of new initiatives these last few years. Some have become a part of my routine, while others I’ve had to drop from lack of time. Each has enriched my life in one way or another.
I took up a creative writing course in 2008. That has started me on an incredible journey. I had started writing several times in the past, but each time, I gave up after a few half-hearted attempts. This time is different. Perhaps the discipline of my daily workout routine is contributing to my mental attitude towards my writing.
In 2005, my husband and I took up ballroom dancing. We were solidly committed until our instructor decided to stop teaching a few years ago. Although this endeavor has suffered a setback, we are richer for having learned to dance.
I took up piano shortly after I started to write. I learned to read music–a childhood dream come true. Unlike typing on the keyboard, a task that seems to come easily, the ebony and ivory keys are much harder to master. I’ve had to drop the lessons about a year ago. I had to choose between writing and piano. I couldn’t find time for both. It’s obvious which project won. I’ve promised myself that when I retire from my paying job, I will make music again.
These past few years have certainly been a time of change. I feel blessed that I have been able to do all these activities. God willing, I hope to continue doing these and more in the future.