Vanessa Chan (BA, English Language and Literatures)

Vanessa is an English Language and Literature major with a minor in ACAM who struggles to write about herself and is going to do her best. As a second generation Chinese-Canadian settler growing and creating on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)people, she’s interested in multifaceted and interdisciplinary storytelling, particularly through the use of archival work. She’s spent most of her undergraduate career supporting students in mentoring and coaching programs, and is excited to go into a career that will let her explore histories, community work, and education at various levels.

Why did you declare a minor in ACAM? What drew you to the program? 

When I found ACAM, I found a program that would let me do multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary work in areas that were meaningful to me. I think I knew very early on in my undergraduate career that I was curious about stories and representation and voice. This was my chance to take, study, and share stories that I wouldn’t normally see in the English curriculum.

Name an ACAM faculty member whose class had a significant impact on you and share why.

I want to thank Dr. Renisa Mawani; taking her sociology course on using historical research and specifically archival research has had the largest impact on my final years at UBC. Not only did she invite me to speak about my final paper at ACAM’s panel “Encountering Asian Canadian Archives” at Congress 2019, but this course became the precursor for the directed studies that she sponsored and helped me create. That course became a sort of capstone project that allowed me to reflect on my experiences in ACAM 350 and ACAM as a whole. I will forever be thankful for the opportunities she has granted me.

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

In second year, the advice I jokingly said I’d say to myself was “you can never catch up on readings.” And while not much has changed in terms of how slowly I read, I think my advice now would be to take it slower. Achievement isn’t just measured in your grades, but what you’ve learned and how you can use that knowledge and those skills in the future. Rushing it and making yourself hate the work you love just isn’t worth a number on a piece of paper.

Have you completed any projects through or related to an ACAM course? If so, could you share your experiences and, if possible, share a link to your project.

For HIST 485 with Dr. Henry Yu I created a tabletop game based on Japantown during the 1907 Anti-Asian Race Riots. It was an archival research project but also a creative project. I think it’s the best representation of what sorts of amazingly rigorous yet accessible scholarly work can be done through the ACAM program. You can find the scene text, pre-made characters, and move sets here: