Toto, I have a Feeling We’re Not in Vancouver Anymore

The mental spirals and freshman fifteens of first-year hit us hard. Feeling that we deserved a much-needed weekend getaway, my friends and I headed from Vancouver to a vacation home in the city of Parksville.

Our weekend was one for the books: “friendly” cooking competitions, reality TV marathons interjected with pillow fights, and some not-so-subtle racism at a neighbourhood pool. As the days passed, it became increasingly apparent that we as Asian-Canadians did not belong. I was sporting a Korean-inspired fringe at the time, which seemed to warrant additional attention such as textbook ‘are you from China?’ racial comments.

Surprisingly to myself and others, my response was nothing more than to smile. This reaction stemmed from the same source that differentiated me from this community: my Chinese identity.

In these moments of discrimination and ignorance, I could not help but recall the classic Chinese fable, “The Frog in the Well”. The story follows a sheltered frog that believes he is living in paradise at the bottom of a well, unaware of the world that exists outside of the familiar walls. I was hopeful that the story ending would also play out in real life, where the ignorance resulting from living within a secluded bubble would one day dissipate as people come to realize how much culture, diversity and tradition awaits beyond their local environment.

Despite the room for additional growth, I pride Vancouver for acknowledging the valuable multiculturalism that our communities are built upon. I am glad to call this city home, for one month out of the year, there is a warm gesture to remind us that our diversity is a matter of celebration.