Resilience and perseverance — a lifelong theme for Chinese Calgarian portfolio manager
Highlighting the rich heritage and contributions of Asian Canadians in Calgary
May is Asian Heritage Month and to celebrate, CBC Calgary is featuring Calgarians and what it means to be Asian Canadian in 2021. This First Person piece was written by Christina Chow, a portfolio manager in Calgary. For more information about CBC's First Person stories, please see the FAQ.
When I look back at the past year of our lives, what I remember most is the quiet; being reminded of the simple things, family, friends and what means the most. It has been a year of strength and resiliency. I look back at all the new things we have done, the people we have helped and memories we have made by the entire world being slowed down.
We have been true to ourselves and brought our own sunshine by reconnecting with family. I will remember all the people who jumped into action to help others in our community.
There are miracles every day, innovation and disruptive technologies with the experts working hard to find us a solution. I have to focus on the positive and what I do have, as I know it may be less than others but is also a lot more than some have.
I have always just thought of myself as "Tina Chow." It has never been pointed out that I am different, that I look different, but now it makes me take a step back and realize it. I was raised to not think about colour. Our dad always told us colour didn't matter, a person's character does.
In the past year, I have been called racial slurs in person and online because people have not been happy. In one instance, a woman behind me in a drive-thru screamed at me through the car window. She claimed that I was Asian and could not drive. I was stunned, so much so that my friend on the phone said, 'Did you just hear what she called you?' I informed the employee at the window, who called me later to ensure I was OK and refused the racist woman any service.
I was born and raised here, so I have a different interpretation, but COVID-19 has helped me see some of the same experiences.
Resilience and perseverance have been a common theme.
My grandparents and my parents laid the foundation for me. I was taught to work hard and play hard. My parents constantly reminded me that I could be anything if I worked hard. As much as I feel like I am just like everyone else, I know I have to work harder to overcome my ethnic heritage and stereotypes. Asian culture promotes being reserved, polite and conforming. I have been taught to be respectful but fight for my spot. I still have "imposter syndrome" at times as an Asian woman and have to be encouraged to self-promote.
As I get older, I see my Asian heritage coming through, and as much as I will promote myself and celebrate my wins, I also like to have my own peace and quiet life.
Our culture is very much one of standing strong, saving face and living through what we have to regardless of our pain to get through it. We are known as the model minority, and this rings true. I have had to navigate some of the racism and emotional hardships that my grandparents would have experienced coming to Canada.
It is really important to engage and educate everyone around us. Empty statements mean nothing, share your stories and lessons so it is real for everyone around you. Teaching people to simply say, "I'm sorry, I'm shocked," isn't enough.
How does the colour of anyone's skin really define them?
Follow #ProudlyAsianCanadian on Instagram for content throughout the month.
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