Day 53 - Connie

53 Connie.jpeg

Day 53 - Connie (1st person I approached)

February 22, 2014 - I was having coffee with a journalist who is writing a story about The Stranger Project 2014 (details to follow later this month), and he wanted to “see this in action.” It couldn’t have worked out any better. I turned to the woman sat next to us in the coffee shop, asked if I could speak with her (she had earphones in) and explained what was happening. Connie said she had overheard a bit of what we were talking about, she knew I was been interviewed, but didn’t know what for or why. I had that familiar inner dialogue of “Does this fit within the parameters of my project,” and quickly allowed myself the “Yes, it does.”

Connie was born in Hong Kong, and lived there until she was 15 years of age. Her family had decided to leave Hong Kong at the time that it was reverting back to Chinese control, and would no longer be under British Colonial rule. Connie’s family had relatives here in Vancouver, so it was an easy decision about the location for her parents. An only child, Connie recalls the mixed emotions of saying goodbye to her friends and the excitement of moving to another country. She had heard her parents talking about it some months before, but recalls it seemed to happen quite quickly. Her schooling prior to moving to Canada had been in a English immersion school. A popular choice for a lot of Chinese families who want their children to be able to speak English fluently, owing to Hong Kong’s international status. When Connie started school, initially in Coquitlam, she was the only Chinese student in her class. “I had to work ten times harder to keep-up, even though I spoke English, it was different putting it all into practise. The method of teaching was slower here than in China, so it worked well for me. I did quite well in school once I got into the flow.” After graduating from high-school, Connie went to the University of British Columbia (UBC) to study Sociology. “I didn’t do well at all. I failed most of my classes, and was on a probationary period. The gap between high-school and university was challenging. I wasn’t well prepared for university studies. I was very fortunate to meet a member of the Faculty of Arts, and she became like a mentor to me. She had graduated with a degree in Family Studies and that was something that appealed to me. I changed my courses and got my Bachelors degree in Family Studies.” 

In her spare time, Connie likes to dance. “I was having coffee one day, about five years ago with a girlfriend from work. I asked what she had planned that afternoon, and she sheepishly told me she was going to a hip-hop dance class. She asked me if I wanted to join her. I said yes, and fell in love with dance immediately. I go regularly now. I have a very busy life, and I try to get in at least five to seven hours a week. And sometime’s when I’m feeling that things are getting really hectic, I try to get in about ten hours of dance, in a week. It really is the thing that I do to ‘switch down’ and let the other stuff go.” Connie then just happens to mention she also writes for two academic organizations. When I ask her to explain more about that, she tells me that she has her Masters degree in Counselling. “I wrote my thesis and managed to get it published, and now I’ve been invited to present my paper at conferences and to write articles for two academic organizations. Things can get very busy at times. Dance helps to take me away from all of that. I need to go for at least five hours a week.”

Connie works for the Big Sisters organization. “It’s hard to classify the work I do into any one position,” Connie says. “I do a lot of different things. The work relates to ensuring the resources and programs we offer are facilitated and that the right connections are happening.” It is clear that Connie really enjoys her work. “I do love my job, I really enjoy working with children. I’ve worked with adults in other roles, before graduating and there just is such a different relationship when working with adults compared to working with children. Children are much more expressive, and honest. You never really know where the conversation will take you. I love that!” #notastranger