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Burnaby Village Museum partners with UBC to share history

Students will travel to rural China and Hong Kong, then create interpretive material for Burnaby facility
burnaby village museum
Burnaby Village Museum, 6501 Deer Lake Ave.

The Burnaby Village Museum has entered into a joint partnership with the University of B.C. that will see students turn their research into interpretive material that can be shared with visitors this summer.

The museum will work with the UBC Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies program and others to develop an innovative model that allows students to travel globally to conduct research and then transfer that knowledge back into a regional setting, thus creating local impact.

At the heart of this knowledge mobility model is a UBC Go Global summer field studies class that will take place in rural China (Kaiping), Hong Kong, and Vancouver. The Heritage of Chinese Migration course taught by Professor Henry Yu will immerse 20 undergraduate students in an experiential, qualitative research-intensive academic exchange experience. As a core part of its curriculum, the learning model ties research conducted in a global context to local work opportunities for students in community-based settings.

At the Burnaby museum, a group of students will work with staff in July and August. This will provide exciting opportunities for students to apply heritage conservation, medicinal eating traditions and sustainable agriculture practices from rural China and Hong Kong to the local museum’s research, programming and exhibits. The students are also given an opportunity to help imagine and create new interactive educational resources using innovative technology such as virtual reality and augmented reality software.

Yu says Burnaby is a particularly apt location for the students to work because of “the long history of local Chinese market-gardens and produce farms along the Fraser River.”

For much of the history of the Lower Mainland, Chinese farmers helped feed the local population by growing fresh produce in farms such as those at the Big Bend of the Fraser along Marine Drive. Students creating research knowledge about farming in rural China can help us understand sustainable, organic farming techniques historically used by Chinese farmers in Burnaby and the Fraser delta region.

Curator Lisa Codd is excited that the Burnaby Village Museum, which has long been a popular educational destination for school children and families, “can help kids and adults learn that Burnaby is a great place to grow food – there are several community gardens, and many Burnaby families grow food in their back yards. Burnaby’s Big Bend area includes an urban agricultural land reserve where market gardens continue to thrive today. Some of those gardens have been farmed for generations by Chinese-Canadian families.”