BIPOC Project – Erin



Hailing from Beijing, China, Erin brings an open and honest vulnerability to their interview, discussing the highs and lows of immigrating to Saint John and beginning a new life here on their own. Erin is an excellent advocate for community, openness to new experiences, and kindness. They voice the challenges that they have overcome and how they continue to persevere as a newcomer during a pandemic. Beginning to network and grow as a person, Erin brings words of encouragement and kindness to others in similar situations.


Erin describes a tumultuous year, expressing the hardships of starting a new life in Saint John whilst shrouded in restrictions. Coming here as a student, Erin was, and is, faced with the difficult task of learning online and trying to meet new friends in a virtual setting. Erin was supposed to return to China last summer, but found that their stay had to be extended due to the pandemic, leaving them to cope with the prolonged separation from their family and their home country. “I wanted to go back to China over the summer holidays. At the time, I had just been here for 8 months and I didn’t have any community to communicate with” they say, expressing how difficult a task it is to make new friends during isolation. Despite their struggles, Erin sees this as an opportunity for self growth; “I think that I changed a lot during that time, maybe even my personality”. They decided to cope with their discomfort by studying philosophy, in pursuit of inner peace.

Faced with the task of finding a community when networking was restricted, Erin found themselves reaching out to their professor about finding a new group of friends. They were directed to the Chinese Cultural Community by their instructor, where they were taught about networking and introduced to volunteer work. Through volunteering, Erin connected with local people and their classmates.

“My classmates are from different countries, so I felt comfortable. Other friends, classmates from other countries, and I have the same feelings. I have two communities. Some are like you, you are here and you know that I’m from another country and you know that I need help. You can provide help. In another group, we have the same feelings and we communicate and exchange with different communities. If I had gone back to China last summer, I wouldn’t have the motivation to do these things.”

Erin found a support group through their classmates, finding pride in their new ability to network. “I just realized that if you want to network, you need to reach out to other people, you can’t just wait”. Despite the challenges of working outside their instincts as an introvert, Erin tries to open their eyes to new possibilities. “I want to dive into Saint John” they say, “ But I know that there is a culture difference”. They highlight that living and working in Canada puts them outside of their comfort zone, whereas living and working in China would have been comfortable for them. Erin says that the key to success is knowing and helping others and living a positive life.

Personal Impact:

Erin explores their unique experiences with COVID by contemplating the highs and the lows of the past year. While their year was certainly difficult, they approach their challenges and what they’ve learned with immense positivity and courage. They maintain that change brings about new mindsets, and more opportunities for positive thinking. They argue that everyone should broaden their circle, expand their horizons to include new friends and new experiences, and do their best to contribute to their communities. Erin loves to give back to the community, connecting with others as a means of feeling one with her new city. They refuse to let COVID hinder their opportunities to meet others, bond with new friends, and have essential experiences. Erin found community through the Chinese Cultural Center, their friends at their university program, and through their professors eagerness to make them feel at home in Saint John. Through their support system, Erin has been able to make strides at settling in Saint John, finding joy in introspection, volunteering, and community work. “I tried looking for communities that I could enjoy and feel comfortable in,” they said, “I got connected with volunteer opportunities, I connected with local people and also my classmates”. Rather, Erin feels that they have two communities: one of their fellow newcomers and another of local friends, both of whom have been important to their growth in Saint John.

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