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Interview with Sherri Chan

Sherri w borderTell us about your family.
I have one brother named Sherman. We are fraternal twins, so we are very close. We pretty much share everything with each other. There are very few secrets between us. We come from a very close knit extended family, as well. Sometimes it’s hard to maintain my independence, but I know my family loves me and that’s what comes first. 

Tell me more about your extended family. What kinds of things were you referring to when you mentioned your independence?
It’s important to understand the family dynamics. My father is a third generation Chinese Canadian, but in many ways he is still very traditional. My mom comes from Hong Kong, so she is even more set in her ways in terms of cultural expectations. My parents help run two family businesses, along with my two uncles and their families – the ‘Fortune Cookie’ restaurant and a convenience store. My parents and one uncle still live above the store, along with my grandmother, Nai Nai. They have worked really hard in order for my brother and me to get a good education, so it’s hard not to feel obligated. To live up to their high expectations.

That’s twice that you used the word ‘expectations’. Explain what you mean.
Oh, in terms of marriage and what not. Even though they have put a lot of effort into ‘westernizing’ us – making sure we got a good education and good paying jobs – they still expect us to find and marry someone that fits their approved list. Also, my mom expects us to make it to family dinner every Sunday night after the restaurant closes. It’s a family tradition, and I don’t mind usually. 

What would be on this ‘list’ as you call it.
I suppose number one if that he (or she – my mom has the same expectations for my brother Sherman) is Chinese, and preferably a Mandarine speaker. 

You mentioned the importance of education. What do you do for a living?
I teach Mathematics at one of the local colleges. I’m actually pretty proud of the fact that I’m the youngest professor on staff, not to mention that I’m one of just a handful of women. I managed to infiltrate the old boys club on three fronts.

What do you mean by three fronts?
I’m relatively young (I’m thirty by the way – I don’t mind saying so), I’m female, and I’m Asian. Most of the staff are older white males. 

I see. I take it you are fairly proud of your accomplishments.
Of course, why wouldn’t I be? I’ve worked hard to get where I am.

Do you see marriage and a family in your future?
Now you’re sounding like my mother! Seriously, if the right guy came along, I am not opposed to it. I have been seeing someone for quite some time and he ticks all the boxes.

Explain what you mean by that.
Oh you know… Asian, successful… things like that. My mother approves.

You don’t sound convinced. What about love?
I’m not sure I believe in love. My parents had an arranged marriage and they seem happy. On the other hand, I sometimes think I’m not meant to settle down. I have my career, which is very fulfilling, and I have my faith. That might be enough. Of course, don’t tell my mother I said so. She wants grandchildren – now! She loves to remind me that my biological clock is ticking.



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