Stories of migration bind students together

posted on May 18, 2015

By Joanne Lee-Young, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article 

By Joanne Lee-Young, Vancouver Sun | Link to Article 

Dominique De Joya Bautista, 23, who was born and raised in Vancouver, recalls that when she went in to take an assessment test for her Mandarin course at the University of B.C., the instructor was taken aback that she wasn’t a “European male,” but instead an ethnic Chinese female.

“My name on paper is very confusing,” said Bautista. “I am named after my parents and every day I am reminded of my family’s stories of migration.”

“I usually have to explain the Spanish influence in the Philippines and how when my family moved there from Fujian province (in mainland China), they changed their names, which was not uncommon, to fit in.”

With this background, Bautista has always been interested in how identity is shaped by migration and, growing up, she found herself volunteering to help Filipino youth adjust to high school in Vancouver or Chinese seniors learn English.

Recently, she graduated from UBC’s new Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies program.

This summer, she plans to research “urban nostalgia” and how “buildings in Vancouver, Hong Kong and Shanghai evoke a different time in a tangible and intangible way.”

There are just three other graduates from the program’s inaugural year, including Nicole So, who was born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver. Her studies included making an animated video titled 4 Reasons Why You Should Care About Vancouver’s Chinatown (, and directing a documentary titled Rich Asian Girl, which explored contemporary stereotypes.

This summer, she will intern at Hua Foundation (, a local group best known for highlighting the dilemna of consuming shark fin, and how environmental issues and cultural tradition sometimes clash, as well as promoting popular Chinese vegetables beyond bok choi and gai lan.

Another graduate, Carolyn Nakagawa, focused on the legacy of Harry Aoki, who overcame internment in 1942, when Japanese-Canadians were forcibly removed from their homes on the B.C. coast, to become a musician and important community figure.

Elizabeth Cheong, who had already graduated from the Sauder School of Business in real estate economics, made a film about how Cantonese connects different generations of Chinese-Canadians. She will spend some time working with Carol Lee, the daughter of real estate mogul Bob Lee, who runs her skin care company from a Chinatown office and is also buying and leasing building spaces on Pender Street so they may be used for running “traditional Chinese businesses” that reflect the history of the area.

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