The dragon ladies on earth: Chinese immigrant women searching to belong
“A dragon swimming in shallower water subjugates to shrimps” is a Chinese metaphor to epitomize the identity crises many highly educated first generation Chinese immigrant women experienced. For many of these women, the desire to call Canada “home” is an integral part of the grief process of emigration and the search to belong. Emigrating from their country of origin, they thought they were going to a promise land where dreams could be actualized but arriving in the new country they found themselves disoriented in an environment where they are the “other”. Having limited social networks and being unfamiliar with how the systems work in the new homeland, the journey of the search to belong has been set in motion. In this presentation, by integrating my personal experience as a Chinese-Canadian academic and working extensively with immigrant women, I will discuss the ambiguous feelings and the difficulties Chinese-Canadian women encountered in the process of comprehending their new social location and defining their new identity. Poetry, songs, music, and visual arts are means to help these women bring their feelings home; and the concept of home is now redefined as wherever they are and whenever they feel a sense of peace in their immediate environment.
Josephine Fong, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Professor at the School of Women’s Studies in York University. In addition to teaching, she works directly and intensively with immigrant women in counseling and self-development programs. Her research interests included: spousal abuse and violence prevention, women’s mental health, psychological response to physical illness, and anti-racist issues. She is also the Director of Positive Quotient Inc. – A Personal Development Centre for All.