November 3, 2016 marked the third conference day for the Next Generation: Canadian Global Citizenship Project at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School (Vancouver District School Board). This conference day was based on the theme of Identity: Understanding Prejudice and Discrimination, with Jen Sungshine as the guest speaker. In the below post Josie Anzai, Eileen Campbell Nishimura, Sabrina Kazi, and Stella Westion, Grade 10 students from the Student Organizing Committee reflect on the guest speaker’s comments.
Our guest speaker for Day 3 was Jen Sungshine. Jen is as a queer, Taiwanese artist-activist based on the traditional homelands of the Coast Salish nations. She facilitates with creativity and social justice media through her work at: Love Intersections, Our City of Colours, Out in Schools, and The Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia. At Love Intersections, Jen has created a blog and video project dedicated to exploring intersectionality through the lens and language of love. In her talk, she proved that you don’t have to be ruled by stereotypes that constrict you. As a queer woman of color herself, people of different races and cultures were able to connect with her. Her stories and experiences helped people to understand what it’s like to not fit the mold of your culture. She shared one of her original films that gave us insight on different identities in our community. The film focused on Amar, a deaf queer person of colour, and his life in a city full of noise. Though he faced many challenges that could have been discouraging, his positive attitude overpowered that and enabled him to embrace his multiple identities.
At an early age, Jen was exposed to situations similar to Amar’s, as her grandmother worked with deaf and hard of hearing nuns. Being surrounded by silence allowed Jen to understand the importance of it. As she grew older, she learned to embrace her differences and become, what she calls, a “bad Asian.” Her progressive outlook on life engaged the audience and made us more aware of our differences in a positive way.