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Heritage is best education

OTTAWA, May 24 (Xinhua) -- "My heritage has shaped my values, my personality, my goals, and much more," said Cen Huang, Vice Provost and Associate Vice President International at Canada's University of Alberta.

As a woman of Chinese descent in Canada, Huang told Xinhua that she is used to taking time during Asian Heritage Month to reflect on the meaning of heritage, and how it impacts her.

In May 2002, the Canadian government officially designated May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada, which is meant to reflect on and celebrate the contributions that Canadians of Asian descent have been making to the growth and prosperity of multicultural Canada.

Born in China, Huang studied in Britain, Canada and the Netherlands after completing her undergraduate education in China.

As an Asian Canadian and a university administrator, Huang stressed that her heritage has shaped those experiences and made her the person she is today.

"Everywhere I have gone in life, I have taken my heritage with me. And I don't mean only in terms of physical travel, but also in my personal journeys," Huang said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

There's a Chinese saying that goes "it takes ten years to grow a tree, but a hundred years to educate a people."

Huang said the expression resonates with herself and she views education as such a dynamic pursuit, both personally and academically.

She said it is one of the reasons that she enjoys working in higher education and observing the journeys of the students, professors, and staff that come to the University of Alberta from all over the world.

"Heritage encompasses many things. It's about our ethnic roots, of course, but it also includes cultural teachings and personal experiences.

"It's about who you are and where you have come from to get to where you are today," Huang said.

Huang spoke highly of the Chinese culture which values good education and hard work. "I see these values as an important complement to the Canadian educational values that emphasize students' independence, choice, and critical and creative thinking."

She said "I think it's critical for various perspectives to be considered and explored during one's life experiences -- if we can learn from each other's values, then we can work towards a global worldview that will enrich our local and international communities."

Huang believes that one's heritage is truly something to be treasured. "We share our heritage and customs with many others, but it impacts each one of us in unique ways."

Another Chinese saying goes like this "for any three persons walking together, I am bound to be able to find teachers among them." It means that a modest learner shall learn from everyone around them.

"To me, this is a major aspect of higher education and the vibrant learning community that is created through the diversity at University of Alberta and across Canada," Huang said.

Huang pointed out it is all Canadians' duty to work together to say "No" to any forms of racial discrimination and anti-Asian hate crimes.

"When we work together to stand up against racism, we can make a difference," noted Huang.


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