This is the first slide of my dissertation proposal presentation. A presentation, which has permanently occupied all of my days and crept into everything I have been doing for the past month.
The thirst for knowledge runs through generations before mine, and without any doubt I was given educational opportunities that exceed those that my ancestors had. A newcomer to Canada myself, over the years I have developed immense regard for the seniors who have created a space for belonging here, and the stories that they have shared with me inspire my whole dissertation. But in addition in a way through this project I am allowing myself to reconnect with my family’s history and I take time to recognize all the sacrifices my grandparents and parents had to make in their lives. With gratitude, by undertaking this project I am speaking to their experiences, their challenges and struggles in search of recognition and belonging.
As I said, my research questions jump at me from every corner and take many shapes and forms. Yesterday I went to The Rennie Collection, located in Wing Sang building in Vancouver’s China Town to catch the Winter 2015: Collected Works exhibition.
Among many powerful works of art this shattered neon piece I Belong Here by Tavares Strachan resonated with me the strongest.
For many people belonging is this neon sign, an alluring image desired from afar. Come closer and you see that the sign is shattered, the light is blinding, the buzz of the lamps is maddening, the text is illegible, and the message disappears. It takes immense strength to put the shattered pieces together and claim I belong here, hear my voice, listen to my story. Sometimes it is impossible. This is a visually striking metaphor for my research project as I am trying to answer Where is home? and where do I/we belong?
Now on to finishing those slides.