Two women riding bicycles and taking pictures in kaiping

The Heritage of Chinese Migration - Kaiping/Hong Kong

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Application documents

About the program

Coursework: ACAM 390 (3 credits) – The Heritage of Chinese Migration  

This is an Arts Research Abroad (ARA) funded program. ARA is a generous funding body made of the Faculty of Arts – Dean’s Office, Anonymous Donors and Go Global that supports research intensive Global Seminars. ARA Funding provides eligible students 70% of funding for the Program Fee, and a budgeted flight. Please read the details in the Eligibility and Program Fees and Costs for greater detail.

The Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies program will run a five-week summer global seminar: ACAM 370 - “The Heritage of Chinese Migration.” Join Dr. Henry Yu (UBC History) and Dr. Selia Tan (Wuyi University), while exploring multi-disciplinary perspectives on the histories, cultures, and geographies of Cantonese migration from Kaiping to North America. Supported by an Arts Research Abroad grant, this course is unique in also involving students in an on-going international research project, giving them invaluable experience on how new research knowledge is created at the scholarly level.

Students will have opportunities to explore, experience, and conduct research, in a rigorous scholarly manner, applying the latest research perspectives on the history, cultures, an geographies of Cantonese migration from the “Szeyup” or “Four Counties” area of Canton (Guangdong) Province, the home region of the majority of the overseas Chinese who went to Canada in the 19th and 20th century.

For three weeks, Kaiping will become for the students a “living heritage laboratory” where local knowledge about the medicinal properties of local food, as well as technologies for irrigation, planting, seed propagation, and food preparation, will be examined as the subject of in-depth research. Students will learn and document how these technologies and techniques circulated across and around the Pacific region, brought along by the migrants who went back and forth between the “Four Counties” and Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the Pacific and Caribbean.

This special program is organized by the top scholarly research centre on Cantonese overseas migration in the world, and grows out of joint research collaborations between Wuyi University and UBC researchers, such as Dr. Yu and his research team.

​Focused on more than the heritage architecture and buildings, Dr. Tan emphasizes the dynamic 'intangible cultural heritage' of these home villages, allowing participants to learn about why Kaiping was given World Heritage Site designation by UNESCO. Students will learn how daily village life and was shaped by the extensive ties to overseas migrants around the world, reflected in the stories of wives and children left behind for decades by migrant husbands and sons.

Most important will be research on food ways: learning to grow, prepare, and understand the health properties of amazing, farm-to-table locally grown food. Students will eat and learn how to prepare meals made from local organic produce freshly picked from mere meters away just minutes before cooking. Learn how the 'local-vore' diet originally created by Chinese Canadian 'market garden' farmers in Vancouver and up the Fraser Valley began in the rural fields of the Pearl River delta. Best of all, learn by doing as you take part in helping the villagers prepare the meals, and whet your appetite for the best prepared farm fresh vegetables and greens you will ever eat. Specialties of Kaiping, such as claypot rice cooked over wood fires, impossible to replicate anywhere else, will make for a once in a lifetime experience. Food practices will also be the main focus of the research focus of the class, as we document the particular ways in which diet and health are understood and managed during the preparation of every meal.

​For students who do not have roots in the region, this course will provide a much broader and deeper appreciation of the history, trade networks, and family heritage of the world of the 'Cantonese Pacific' that connected these villages and migrants who went to Canada, the United States, Australia, Hawai'i, Southeast Asia, and a myriad of sites around the globe. Students in Land and Food Systems, Arts disciplines such as geography, anthropology, and history, will be able to implement relevant research methods, but the course is open to students of all disciplines and faculties.

Opportunities will also be available in the summer months of July and August 2018 upon completion of the course for students to apply what they have learned through work-study, research assistant, and community internship positions. Through a partnership between Go Global, the Faculty of Arts Research Abroad program, UBC Center for Community Engaged Learning, and a number of other community partners such as Burnaby Village Museum and the Hua Foundation, this course has been designed to be one stage of a longer research, training, and knowledge enhancement and exchange project, with summer employment opportunities for a number of students afterward.

Dr. Henry Yu, Associate Professor, Department of History, St. John’s College and and Asian Canadian and Asian Migration (ACAM) Faculty member.

General timeline

Program dates:

May 14 – 25, 2018               Vancouver Lectures
May 26 – 27, 2018               Travel to Kaiping, China
May 28 – June 17, 2018       Kaiping, China, and other destinations (i.e., Hong Kong)


All Arts students are welcome to apply. Historically, students come from: Asian Studies, Geography, International Relations, Political Science, Psychology, English, and Commerce.

ARA Eligibility:

  • Be enrolled in UBC Vancouver’s Faculty of Arts;
  • Be in their third, fourth, or final year of study;
  • Be within one of the following qualifying majors as above
  • Be enrolled in at least 24 credits in the academic year before the program
  • Must be registered in 24 credits in the current academic year, or sufficient to graduate
  • Have a minimum GPA of 70% with no fails or incompletes.

This is a highly competitive program that is generously funded through the Faculty of Arts – Dean’s Office, Anonymous Donors and Go Global. The funding provided for this program is limited to only UBC Vancouver students in the identified Arts Majors.

Program fees and costs

The program fee is between $3,300 - $3,500. The final fee depends on the number of students in the program. Students do not pay the Go Global fee when applying to a Global Seminar. The Go Global fee is built into the Program Fee and is payable upon acceptance to the program.

All qualifying students will receive ARA Funding. A separate application is not required.  ARA Funding provides eligible students 70% of funding for the Program Fee, and a budgeted flight to Kaiping of $1,200. Accepted students with demonstrated financial needs are eligible for 100% funding for Program Fee and Budgeted Flight. For greater details, please attend an info session, or e-mail

Program Fee Includes 
Program Fee Does Not Include

In country group accommodations


Program related travel (public transportation, group train tickets, etc.)


Entrance fees to program related activities (museums, site locations, etc)


On-site guest lecturers

Travel Visa


Go Global Fee

*UBC Tuition - Not included. Part of your costs

This amount will differ for domestic and international students. This amount will be assigned to you on the Student Service Centre (SSC) according to normal UBC tuition timelines. Read about tuition fees.

This amount is not determined or applied by Go Global.

All students participating in a Global Seminar will have tuition applied to their SSC account.

*Flights - Not Included. Part of your costs

Travel to Kaiping is a separate cost.  However, 70 – 100% funding is provided for the flight at a budgeted cost of $1,200. You are responsible for arranging your own travel. You should not book your flight until you are notified to book. All Global Seminars only run if there is a minimum number of students enrolled.

*Incidentals - Not Included. Part of your costs

Some examples include: personal mobile communication, personal transportation that is not related to the learning outcomes of the program, additional meals that are not already identified as part of the program fee, immunizations, Visas

Global Seminars refund policy

Refund on deposits

Students are eligible for a refund of their deposit minus the administrative fee ($415) if they withdraw from the program within 30 days of paying the deposit; this provides time to fill vacated spots so the cost to other students does not increase. After 30 days, the deposit is non-refundable. Exceptions may be determined at the discretion of Go Global. Any funds allocated to students through the ARA program must be returned in their entirety.

Refund on program fees

Students who withdraw from a Global Seminar after having paid the remaining program fee are not eligible for a refund of their deposit or the program fee. Exceptions may be determined at the discretion of Go Global. Any funds allocated to students through the ARA program must be returned in their entirety.

Students who decide to withdraw their application must submit a request in writing by email to the Global Seminar Advisor at


Go Global Vancouver

When emailing us, please include:

  1. Your student number in the subject line
  2. Your full name and if you are an incoming or outgoing exchange student in the body of the email

Go Global Vancouver

Telephone: 604 822 0942

Fax: 604 822 9885

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6138 Student Union Blvd
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