Food and the Heritage of Chinese Migrations

ACAM 390A | 3 credits

About the virtual program

This program is virtual and will take place online for Summer 2021. The application deadline has been extended, you can can continue to submit applications online.  Students will be selected on a rolling basis until courses are full.

Attn: Non-UBC Visiting Student Applicants Only

To apply, please send your completed application form, along with a copy of your transcript and letter of permission from your home institution to  Include “Virtual Global Seminars” in the subject line.  

About the course

This course is led by UBC faculty member Henry Yu.

This unique virtual field study in Vancouver, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malacca, Penang, and other cities in the sinosphere (East Asian cultural sphere) will allow you to engage with multi-disciplinary perspectives on the histories, cultures, and geographies of Chinese migration.  These migration networks primarily stem from the “Szeyup” or “Four Counties” area of Canton (Guangdong) Province, the home region of many overseas Chinese who went to Canada in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

You will explore these cityscapes and their respective heritage planning, policies, and processes through readings, lectures, and virtual tours.The role of food in the historical and ongoing creation and adaptation of culture within migration networks will be central to the exploration of these themes. In the face of widespread marginalization, exclusion, and racism throughout the history of Canada, Chinese Canadians created vertically integrated industries that operated small-scale commercial farms to feed their families and to support restaurants and neighbourhood grocery stores with fresh produce. Not only did Chinese migrants grow food, many were also involved in food distribution networks that included farmers, peddlers, grocers, and restaurant owners. And yet the history of these local networks have been either forgotten or deliberately erased from memory. How might we re-imagine the past, present, and future of Canadian society in which everyone “belongs at the table”?

Course participants will have the opportunity to apply for Summer and Fall paid internships with local community organizations, including the Asia Pacific Foundation, Burnaby Village Museum, Museum of Vancouver, Richmond Museum, UBC, and various other locations in the Lower Mainland. Internships will provide meaningful work experience in public/educational programming, event planning, marketing/communications, filmmaking/oral history documentation, and gardening.

Find out more about this program by viewing the short films below:

About the virtual experience

The class will meet online through Zoom. Students will be expected to engage in group discussions during class time, as well as outside of class using discussion platforms (platforms TBC).

Dependent on COVID safety regulations, the class may include some in-person components in Vancouver. While this may only be accessible for students staying in Vancouver, all students are welcome to apply to join the program. The teaching team will design the program to be as accessible and as robust as possible for everyone.

Sensitive or potentially triggering content: Some students find that it is an emotional experience, especially if you have heritage/roots in the areas we are exploring.

Eligibility requirements

General Global Seminar requirements

  • You must have at least a 70% average in your most recent Winter Session of full-time studies prior to application
  • You need to be a UBC student in good standing (e.g., not be under academic or non-academic discipline) to participate in a Global Seminar
  • You should have full-time student status (as defined by your faculty) in the year prior to your Global Seminar
  • You must maintain 70% average prior to your Global Seminar departure
  • You must have completed or intend to complete the necessary (or equivalent) pre-requisite courses prior to Global Seminar start date
  • Unclassified students will be considered on a case-by-case basis
  • You will need to be accepted by the Program Director leading the Global Seminar

Program-specific requirements

The course has no specific prerequisites, and is open to students from all faculties. 

General timelines

The program will run during May and June 2021.  

Application deadline

The application deadline has been extended, you can can continue to submit applications online. Students will be selected on a rolling basis until courses are full.

How to apply

  • Log in to the Gateway online application program
  • Select “Search Experiences” and type "VGS" to explore Global Seminars programs
  • Upload the application form for your selected Global Seminar – see Application documents below

Students are limited to apply for one Virtual Global Seminar.  Interest in a second Virtual Global Seminar will be assessed on a case by case basis and students should contact Go Global direclty for more information.


This program is jointly funded by Arts Research Abroad (ARA)  and Go Global. ARA is a funding body made of the Faculty of Arts – Dean’s Office and anonymous donors  that supports Virtual Global Seminars.

This funding will offset 100% of the program fees for this Virtual Global Seminar.

Program fees and costs

Go Global is committed to making high quality global education experiences accessible to all students. For this reason, Virtual Global Seminars will be kept at no or low cost for the Summer 2021 season.  

The Go Global Fee ($415) will be covered in full by the Go Global Award ($500) and Program Fees will be covered in full by the Arts Research Abroad funding program. 

You will pay UBC tuition for the number of credits you enroll in for this program.

Global seminars refund policy

The Go Global Fee ($415.00 CDN) is an administrative fee required for all applicants to Go Global programs. The fee is non-refundable. However, it may be adjusted under the following circumstances.

If you withdraw from Go Global

To withdraw from your program, you must contact Go Global by email to request withdrawal.

Students who withdraw from the program after the program starts, will have their Go Global fee adjusted from $415.00 to $321.75 (reduced by $93.25).

In the case of withdrawal, Go Global Award funding must be returned in full.

If you have questions, please connect with your Go Global advisor or email Go Global at


If you are considering applying for a Go Global program and identify with having a disability or pre-existing health condition (mental or physical) which could impact your participation, or if you require academic accommodation, you can contact the following offices and meet with an Accessibility Advisor before the start of your program:

The Centre for Accessibility (Vancouver) 604 822-5844

Disability Resource Centre (Okanagan) 250 807-8053


Go Global Vancouver

Go Global's campus office is closed until further notice. At this time, you can contact Go Global by email, phone or virtually through Zoom.

If you need to book an advising appointment, please complete the online request form. Appointments will be held through Zoom or by phone.

Advising hours

Monday: 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Tuesday: 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Thursday: 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm