the question of origin
by Sophia Kim
Photo: Shik-Kai by Myungsook Lee
Immigrating from Taiwan at age 14, Shih Kai, a 32 year old character modeler for video games, had never questioned his identity until a few years ago when he became a team leader at work. He defines this moment as a turning point in his exploration into his cultural identity. Shih Kai explains that until this moment, he had simply preferred to keep to the Taiwanese community in Canada.
¡°I was pretty afraid to talk to people here. I felt that they were alien,¡± explains Shih Kai. ¡°What we played was different. We played different video games and I played baseball but [mainstream Canadians] played soccer.¡±
However, when he started working, he was surrounded by people from all over the world.
¡°There were Russians, local Canadians and Koreans. I forced myself to talk to them,¡± says Shih Kai.
But what really opened his eyes was when as team leader he was charged with the resolution of a conflict.
¡°I realized that my [Taiwanese] culture worked against me,¡± explains Shih Kai. ¡°I think Asians keep things to themselves, but Canadians don¡¯t. I forced myself to speak out.¡±
Gradually, he began to feel more comfortable and opened up to the community. He proudly states that he not only speaks out for himself, but that many other things in his life have also changed. His art has changed from the ¡°pretty Japanese anime¡± style. His friends too have become more multicultural and his choice of cultural entertainment has shifted from mainly Taiwanese shows and books to articles and movies in English.
He sometimes finds it hard to relate to his ¡°Taiwanese friends¡±.
But, the greatest shift is that he no longer only identifies with the Taiwanese culture - he identifies just as much with the Canadian culture. At work and with his friends, Shih Kai is Canadian, but at home with his parents and in the Taiwanese community, he is Taiwanese. ¡°I am Taiwanese-Canadian,¡± says Shih Kai. ¡°I don¡¯t really know which country I belong to anymore. I¡¯m pretty stuck here. I don¡¯t know who I am. It
feels like two different worlds, and there is no bridge.¡±
As confusing as it may sound, Shih Kai explains that his dual life as a Taiwanese and as a Canadian is fine for him. The two worlds never cross, but he is happy to keep them separate. He doesn¡¯t question his existence in either of his worlds and he is content being a part of both. The future he envisions is pretty much the same; he sees a life with a wife and kids who are half Canadian and half Taiwanese like himself.
Story is continued
DIVERSE 5th Issue
We are pleased to announce that DIVERSE 5th issue, Spring 2011 has been released.
12 Diversity in Canadian Workplaces What are the obstacles to a better form of ¡°diversity¡± in the workplace?
- Open Door Group
- BC Workplace Diversity Inclusion Awards
6 BC¡¯s Diversity through 30 portraits
2 ThePower of Exchange A Historic Collaboration between Germany¡¯s
Premiere Art Collections and Canada¡¯s First Nations
28 Ezra Kwizera Born in Uganda to Rwandese refugee parents, Canadian Musician and genocide survivor speaks on the art of forgiveness and of adapting to Canadian culture
42 Dana Claxton
The Mustang Suite: Questioning mobility, freedom and autonomy
24 Gung Haggis Fat Choy in Vancouver, BC: The Diversity of Canada
38 Denise Brillon Breaking barriers in the fashion world
32 Pysanky¡¯s Resurgence
Joan Brander¡¯s contribution to the renaissance in traditional
Ukrainian egg art
10 Publisher¡¯s Note
27 Benefits of being a bilingual writer
31 Canadians come in all differences
NEWS & INFORMATIONS
35 News Briefs on Multiculturalism
36 Publisher¡¯s Picks
You Can Order Here.SPECIAL FEATURES