Day 275 - Sheena

Day 275 - Sheena (1st person I approached)
October 02, 2014 - Sheena was sitting on an out of the way bench, off to the side of a busy road. I’ve met some pretty interesting people on that quietly located bench, and I always make an effort not to overlook it. I approached Sheena and started to describe to her what I’m doing. She readily agreed to chat, and I sat down, pulling up my Facebook page to show her what I was talking about. As soon as I showed Sheena the page, she said

“Oh! I follow you!”

She told me that when I was telling her about my project that it sounded familiar, but she wasn’t sure until she saw the actual page. The thing I really like about meeting someone that is following the project - they already know I’ll want to take their picture!


Sheena was born in the United States, in San Jose, California.

“My parents are both from Vietnam. Their parents immigrated to California when they were both children,” she said.

“When I was three years old, my mother left my father and we moved to Hawaii. My mother had sisters that lived there,” said Sheena.

“That was where my mother met my stepfather, in Hawaii and had my little brother when I was about ten. My stepfather has been like a father to me. I don’t have much of a relationship with my biological father. The age difference between my brother and I meant we weren’t that close as kids," she told me.


“When I was about twelve years old, we moved to Vancouver. My stepfather had spent time here as a kid, and did business here. He was based in Hawaii for the time we lived there, but he wanted to move his business to Vancouver, so we moved. My mother and stepfather spilt up soon after we moved here. My mother moved back to San Jose. I didn’t want to make that move, so I stayed here in Vancouver with my stepfather. She understood, and was okay with it,” said Sheena.


“I did all of my high-school here. I wanted to be friends with everyone, so I made sure I knew people in every ‘clique’ there was in school. There’s always different groups in school. I never really stayed in any one clique, but moved around,” she said. Sheena took guitar lessons in school for a couple of years.

“I’ve always liked music,” she said.

“I was a pretty good kid, in general. My stepfather was a little strict at times and I went through  bit of a rebel stage in my teens, all dark and strange. I wanted to have my independence. We argued a bit but for the most part, I was pretty good. I think he just wanted to make sure I was ok, especially as I'm his stepdaughter,” she said.


After graduating from high-school, Sheena moved out.

“I was eighteen, and I’d had an argument with my stepfather. It was one of those spur of the moment ‘I’ll show you’ moves. I got a job working in the food court at the mall. Then I moved over to a coffee shop, and that started my coffee shop career,“ she said somewhat cheerily, with a  dash of sarcasm. Over the next three years, Sheena worked at four or five different coffee shops, in various parts of town.

“Last summer I took some time off and went travelling. I went to Europe for two months, by myself. I started off in London (England) and then travelled around Europe and then back to London. It was a really great experience. The only place I had any trouble was when I arrived in London. I had planned on couch-surfing and I got stopped at customs in the airport. I guess they thought it was a bit weird, I was staying with some Russian guy who I didn’t know,” she said, laughing.

“After a couple of hours of questions they let me go.”


Last week, Sheena gave up her job.

“I was working in a coffee shop on Commercial Drive. I’ve moved back in with my stepfather. Clearly our relationship is all good now, even though he’s making me pay rent. It’s still cheaper than living on my own!" she said.

"I’m working with my stepfather now, kind of as an assistant and doing administration work for his company,” she said.

“I’ve decided that I’m going to work for a year or so, save some money and then I want to go live in Berlin. I only spent two days there last year, but there was just something about it. There’s a lot of artists and musicians there, so I’m thinking of pursuing music. I don’t know. I’m young enough that I can do it. I checked and I can get a working visa up to the age of thirty-five in Germany. I’m twenty one, so I’ve got lots of time to figure out what I’m going to do.” #notastranger