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Anita Hu in front of plate of foodNeuroscience student Anita Hu enjoys Asian cuisine, like this bone marrow dish served at a Toronto restaurant.

Cultural balancing act a challenge for Chinese-Canadian student

Born and raised in Canada, neuroscience student Anita Hu says that balancing her own experiences with her Chinese ancestry can be a struggle.

“The clothes that I wear and the way I talk are a product of my environment in Canada, yet my thoughts, actions, and values within are largely a product of my Asian family,” she says.

Because most of her extended family resides in China, she misses the experience of weekends with Grandma or frequent big family dinners, but says that makes her appreciate even more the rare moments with they can all be together.

“My parents, brother, and I try to visit Shanghai as often and long as we can, which is usually once a year in the summer for three weeks,” Hu says. “My favourite feeling in the world is sitting in my Ah-Bu’s — grandma in Shanghainese — apartment with my parents, brother, aunts, uncles, and cousins all crammed into the three-in-one bedroom/living room/dining area just catching up and talking about the past.

“Through these stories, I realized how pretty much all of my family history lay in Shanghai and in China, and I was never exposed to any of this growing up in Canada.”

She does enjoy Asian food culture and professes an interest in Chinese architecture.

“The history of China is sculpted right into the cities’ landscapes,” says Hu. “I find that the buildings and structures in China directly reflect the cultural movements that took place in the country.”

This is the fourth in a series of articles featuring voices from members of the UWindsor community in celebration of Asian Heritage Month. The 2022 theme “Continuing a legacy of greatness” is a reminder for all Canadians to come together to combat anti-Asian racism and discrimination in all its forms.