Azumi Hirayama (BA, Sociology)

Azumi Hirayama is an international student from Tokyo, Japan, graduating with a Sociology major and an ACAM minor. During her undergraduate degree, she became fascinated by how people form communities and establish support networks, especially through her experience volunteering for a Family Program at the YWCA Crabtree Corner in Vancouver Downtown Eastside. In her ACAM journey, she especially found it interesting to explore how Asians, especially the Japanese diaspora, faced racism while also engaging in settler colonialism. She is very grateful for all the support she received throughout her undergraduate degree, and while she is going back to Japan after graduation, she hopes to apply all her knowledge and skills acquired in the degree to support others in her communities.

Why were you drawn to the ACAM program? 

I was drawn to ACAM since I took ACAM 300 as my elective (at the time).  Dr. Laura Ishiguro’s lectures and discussions about Asian Canadians’ history were fascinating – but also I felt excited being in an ACAM class, as I often felt like experiences of Asian people in North America were often excluded from narratives in other classes. Although my experience may be different from many students who grew up in Canada, I still felt connected to the rest of the community as well.

What was your favourite memory from ACAM? 

I loved when we all shared good Asian food restaurants in ACAM 320B—and also when Dr. Ben Cheung broadcasted food videos from Asia. I feel food is a big part of identity and that instantly connected a lot of us.

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

One advice is to start taking ACAM courses earlier! I feel I definitely missed many opportunities for not noticing that ACAM even existed. But also, I want to tell myself not to study too much too, life gives you many lessons and experiences, not just classes and textbooks.