People of Georgian: Acupuncture prof bullied for cleanliness secretly trains in martial arts
December 18, 2020

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Our Georgian College community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives, and we’re sharing different ones each week.

People of Georgian: Meet Jack Yan

I was kind of bullied when I was younger. Our family was a little different from the neighbours and the kids in that area.

Most of the families in Hegang, China, worked in a coal mine. My father and mother came from more intellectual backgrounds, so I dressed differently, I talked differently.

Those kids would tease me, “Why are you so clean?”

Learning martial arts was a way I thought I could defend myself. But of course, when you learn martial arts, those teachers will tell you not to fight, so I didn’t end up using those skills for a long, long time.

It did give me more confidence, but either way, I was one of those kids who had a lot of natural physical strength and was able to keep bullies away.

I was able to lift up kids of my own age with my hand pretty easily, so after a while they just got scared of me even though I didn’t fight with them. They’d say, “What’s with this weird kid? He’s so strong.”

At the time, non-government organized martial arts training was banned, so I trained in my teacher’s backyard. Us kids, we were so little – I was seven years old – so it didn’t phase us; we were not scared. We trained and had fun.

I trained with that teacher for a few years and later trained with other teachers, and things got better in China afterwards.

Two people grapple in martial arts, while other people stand around them.
Jack demonstrates martial arts during a lesson.

Starting from the ground up in Canada

Later, moving to Canada was a huge culture shock.

I was a university lecturer in China, but after I came here I had to start from the ground up. While doing my master’s in political science in Canada, to make ends meet I was washing dishes, delivering Chinese food, and working in kitchens for quite a number of years. It was really frustrating.

Person stands outside in front of a statue and building and looks at the camera.

My major in China was English, a foreign language, so I could make a career out of that. I came here and everybody speaks English, so it’s not an advantage anymore.

But things happened very well for me. I came here to further my education and then I fell in love with this country.

I really like the environment at Georgian. The whole setup is nice, the people are very friendly, and the students are ready to learn.

It really makes me want to stick with Georgian for as long as I can.

Jack Yan, part-time professor in Georgian’s Acupuncture program.

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