An Xu (BA, English Literature)

An Xu 徐安 (she/her) is a 1.5 generation Chinese Canadian settler living on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations. She is graduating with a BA in English Literature and Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies. During her time at UBC, she has worked as a Communications and Marketing Coordinator at ACAM, and has been a part of several community-based storytelling projects through her work with UBC INSTRCC. An can be found cooking too much food, (dreaming about) skiing, and (thinking about) reading.

What drew you to the ACAM program and why did you declare it as a minor?

There aren’t many inciting moments in my life that I can point to as being path-altering, but I’ve been telling a running joke about scrolling past a rare ACAM-sponsored Facebook ad one day and knowing right then that it was something that I needed to find out more about. I really think that something did click and I was meant to find ACAM at the time that I did. I was going through what my friends and I like to call my “ACAM awakening,” beginning to think about what growing up Chinese Canadian has meant to me and how I wanted to continue on with my Arts education with intention. Reading through the ACAM Facebook page and then the website, I saw my own questions and values reflected back at me and couldn’t believe that such an accessible program existed. I actually published a few creative writing pieces with the undergrad student journal Tributaries the summer before I started any ACAM classes, and I’ve been keen on being involved with the community ever since.

What connections and ideas were you able to foster through ACAM?

My first day of class in ACAM 300 with Dr. Laura Ishiguro, I vividly remember being struck and moved to tears by the kindness, inclusiveness, and understanding she modeled in introducing herself and the class. She created such a safe space as we learned how to process for ourselves difficult histories while not leaving out the small, often overlooked gems of resistance and solidarity— and that history matters, even and most crucially in the present. ACAM 320D with Dr. Danielle Wong was also so influential in both my academic interests as well as my personal understanding of the world. Everyday I still think about the ramifications of systems of power and how identity can be both imposed and constructed.

Most of all for me, ACAM has been impactful through the connections I’ve found with my classmates and co-workers who have also turned into close friends. University can feel like such a big place, but the ACAM community has been such an insulating source of fellowship that brings so many of us together as we navigate and bond over shared histories and backgrounds. I think that has really been modeled from the top down, from the ACAM administrators, to the professors, to the students, who all care for, respect, and make space for each other.

What is one piece of advice you would give to your first-year self?

I think that I would tell my first-year self to forgive myself and to take heart that there is no right way of living or being. Just existing is enough.