Daniel Chen (BA, Asian Studies)

Daniel Chen 陈丹宁 (he/him) is an aspiring documentary journalist and completed his BA degree in Asian Studies and Asian Canadian and Asian migration studies at the University of British Columbia. He has moved between Los Angeles and Beijing and currently calls Vancouver home. ACAM has played a large role in his involvement in Vancouver Chinatown includes producing content for the A Seat at the Table exhibition, Speak My Language radio documentary, and Suzhou Alley Women’s Mural.

Why were you drawn to the ACAM program? 

I was drawn to the program’s course offerings stood out from traditional degrees through content that resonated with my personal experience as a Chinese immigrant. I enjoyed learning about the intersectionality of the diasporic migrant experience with other academic fields whether it was through English literature, sociology, psychology, history, etc. The community-based engagement opportunities that the ACAM program offers have helped gain valuable working experience and provided the space for me to find belonging with my local community. Overall, I can comfortably say that the ACAM program has been the most influential part of academic journey at UBC.

Have you completed any ACAM related projects? Would you like to share your most memorable experiences, and if possible a link to your project?

Outside of being a student, I’ve also been involved in ACAM’s funded community projects (Yarrow Society’s Speak My Language radio documentary project and the Suzhou Alley Women’s Mural digital stories). Collaborating with Yarrow Society kickstarted my ongoing involvement with Vancouver Chinatown. Working with volunteers, local artists, business owners, and speaking to seniors in the community, helped me develop a relationship with Vancouver Chinatown. We had intimate conversations with Chinese seniors about their experience with language barriers in our healthcare system. Community-based engagement opportunities like this were the most memorable experiences during my time at UBC. And I believe it’s through these interactions, students can learn about various inequalities in society and the importance of culture in a meaningful way.

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

First of all, I would inform myself of the ACAM program! I didn’t hear about the program until my third year at UBC so I wonder what other opportunities I could’ve encountered or interests I would’ve taken time to pursuit if I dug into the ACAM rabbit hole sooner. I would also tell myself to be less afraid of making the wrong decision in life. Go knee deep into whatever field to the point where you develop tangible skillsets instead of pondering between options and wasting time through inaction.