“A big part of the community is for people to get to know the history of the first Chinese people in Edmonton, there’s a lot of history to it that’s been lost. My great grandpa helped to build the railway over in BC, which has impacted my family history. I feel like a lot of people do not know about the history and the significance that we bought to Canada. There’s so much to be talked about there. I think a lot of these racist comments are really built on people not knowing. Something I do want to do is to educate people on the history of the Chinese people or Asians in Edmonton and Canada, because I feel like it’s just so significant, but it’s not talked about.
My grandpa liked running. He made the news for running without a shirt on in -30°C weather because he just wanted to run. The entire school knew that my grandpa was running shirtless. We all thought he was insane. He stopped running in his 90s and turned to swimming for three hours a day at the Kinsmen and even won an award.
When he passed away, people would say, ‘I remember seeing him, I used to watch him run as my mum drove me to school.’ It was a weird moment when we realized he impacted a lot of people just by doing what he wanted to do, which was just to run no matter what the weather was. It’s interesting to see how he impacted the community and that the community actually remembers him. He’s an inspiration for me personally. He’s no longer around, but he really drove ‘If there’s a will, there’s a way’ in me. I think I didn’t appreciate it as much as a kid, but looking back, he had a lot of perseverance that I wish I had, especially through university.
I’ve been in school for seven years. My parents didn’t really pressure me to do one thing or the other, but on my mom’s side, they’re mostly in the healthcare profession. So there’s a lot that I felt like I had to live up to. In high school, I was always adamant that I was going to be a doctor, so I went into nutrition. It’s funny, because my mom at one point was like, ‘I think you should go into design’. And I thought, I just do design as a hobby. But after many failures in nutrition and a super low GPA, I had to revisit what I wanted to do. I applied to design and got in. It was like a journey of self discovery. I’m glad that my mom encouraged me to see that design was a viable option.
It’s hard to know yourself without failure. Failing is something, culturally, that we didn’t really talk about in my family. It just didn’t seem like an option and you’re scared to fail. You just grow up thinking ‘If you fail, you did something wrong’. I realize now that failing is where you learn the most. I think the biggest takeaway for me was: once you fail, the most important part is to learn from it, and to not give up. I think once you persevere, things eventually line up in place.
我的父母不会强迫我個人的意願，給我拥有自主选择的空间。在实践志向时，我认为持之以恒十分重要。中国传统文化及家庭教育很少谈论到失败，但事实上选择志向时会遇到很多失败和挫折。在我七年的大学生活中，我多次转换专业，当中经历了迷茫和挫败，最终才发现设计不仅是我的喜好也是我真正热爱的专业。从中我明白到失败和挫折并不可怕，这些失败和挫折帮助我更深入地认识自己，从而吸取经验继续前行。” — Naomi
Check out this Calgary Herald article dedicated to Naomi’s grandfather: “Runner known for his shirtless endurance”, June 2012