Immigrant and first-generation teens can’t define what it means to be Canadian. They turn to buzzwords like multiculturalism, tolerance and acceptance. Some say it’s a passport or a card. Some say it’s ancestral. Others just don’t know. But while they can’t always express it, they live it.
In the wake of Macleans’ “Too Asian?”, Vancouver Observer and Schema Magazine asked 35 Vancouver teenagers in seven high schools how they seethemselvesandeachother. This is first in the series. Students’ names have been changed.
FOB? What’s that?
Fred Lin says that he doesn’t know the difference between “FOB” and “Honger.” He asks his friends if there’s a difference. Someone cracks a joke in Mandarin, causing the two girls in the group to giggle. Fred shrugs. They don’t know.
Fred is a Grade 12 student at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary, the second- largest school in the Vancouver School District, with over 2000 students.He’s one of the forty-three per cent of students at the school that speak either Mandarin or Cantonese at home. Fred says he has to translate a lot of things for his parents into Mandarin.