Welcome to the World Wide Web Home page of Road to East Asia
Written by students of FC1750.06
at Founders College, York University
Vol.2, no. 1 November, 1996
Last year, I moved to Hamilton, and my neighbor, a former head of the Multicultural Committee, offered me an opportunity to work as an art counselor in an ESL day camp. The children, who came form diverse backgrounds, were wonderful, but I realized that I know little about any non- Western cultures. I hope this course will help me improve in this area. The much-needed knowledge of East Asia should also help me with my study in Asian art history. As well, I look forward to improving my writing skills, finding the connections between visual arts and other disciplines such as literature and politics, and sharing my ideas with others in cyberspace.
I came to Canada at the age of ten before I have any in-depth knowledge of my heritage. Although I can speak and write Chinese, I do not fully understand what is happening in East Asia, its politics or culture-related activities, around which my parents' conversation often revolves. It is tiresome to interrupt them for explanations. My father once said that the problems among China, Japan, and Korea were not created overnight. Instead they were built up over years of conflict and mistrust. Finally, I have a chance to learn about my backgrounds, and perhaps to have a better understanding about myself.
The search for my Caribbean-Chinese roots prompted me to sign up for this course although it may not give me all the answers I am seeking. I am a Canadian with parents and grandparents born in Trinidad, but my maternal grandmother was of Chinese descent. Although the East Asian connection is long lost in my family, we still relish some Chinese dishes and a few other traditions. My mixed cultural heritage is almost a mystery to myself, and even my Chinese great-aunts cannot help me unravel it or satisfy my curiosity.
Despite my Chinese roots, I have stood out among my friends of East Asian origins. It is my desire to understand better because they are a major part of my life. I also would like to improve my writing skills in this course so that I can document my journey of discovery in an effective fashion.
I am only familiar with Chinese fiction, poetry, and plays written in Chinese, with little knowledge of Japanese or Korean literature. It is, therefore, advisable to know more about the history of East Asia and the relationships among the countries involved. I like Japan in particular because I appreciate things Japanese -- food, cars, comics, and hi-tech products. China has a lot to learn from japan, which has grown rapidly into a leading industrialized nation after the Second World War.
I came to the university with the sole intent to explore subjects that I'd never had the opportunity to study in high school. I don't know where I'll be when I'm finished but I plan to leave university with at least a wide span of knowledge and interest. I am taking this course mainly because I would like to read literary works by unfamiliar authors, exposing me to different lifestyles, social situations and experiences in East Asia, which is largely a mystery to me up to this point.
The current political situation in China is very tense, particularly its relations to Hong Kong. I am interested in Chinese history, and the policies of China's rulers, and whether or not the West's judgment of this country is fair. I would like to be in a position to have meaningful chats with many of my friends who have been to China.
In the past few months I have often entertained the thought of working somewhere in East Asia because I am intrigued by the people in or from that region and their cultures. It's just a thought, and some of you might think it is an irrational one.If I ever do decide to leave Canada, which I love and greatly appreciate, it will be a hard decision to make; but for some reason my interest has been turned towards East Asia, and perhaps one day I will know why.
I had my heart set on taking a college course in crime and punishment, but it was filled. East Asian Literature in English is only my second choice which, I hope, will shed light on my cultural heritage. Born and raised in Canada, I have always been interested in North American history. But as a young adult, I have begun to wonder about the accomplishments of my ancestors and the hardships they had endured in China.
A few months ago, my father told me the tragedies that our relatives went through during the Second World War. Their struggle for survival in a country torn by political turmoil has touched me. Both of my parents were born in China in the mid-1940s. They have always been content with the fact that I can at least speak Cantonese. Now that I have shown an interest in my roots, they are much more delighted.
East Asia is the fastest growing, most economically dynamic region in the world. I plan to share this message with my classmates and visitors to our web site. Personally, I am interested in modern Chinese history, its changing socio-political landscape since the Second World War, and the Cultural Revolution. This course offers a literary approach to these major historical events in China and its two neighbors, namely Japan and Korea. I hope everyone is as excited as I am, awaiting the arrival of the Pacific Century!
Visitors: since Jan. 24, 1996