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Transcript of Passion Project
For decades, Japan had been trying to influence China and break its unity by attempting to gain economic and political control in the country. In 1931, Japan had already taken Manchuria and eventually Jehol Province in 1933. Then, with these areas, established a puppet state, called Manchukuo. Fighting between the Chinese and Japanese led to the Nanking massacre of 1937. On December 13th, the Japanese went into Nanking and for six weeks, they committed brutal acts. Although the exactly amount of causalities will never be exact, estimates range from 100,000 to 300,000. Rape was widespread and approximately 20,000 women were raped at the hands of Japanese soldiers. This war ended when Japan surrendered to the Allies in 1945. The Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 was an era in which China’s strength and unity was put to the test.
It was during this unstable time in China that my grandpa, Moises Chu, was born. The day was March 3rd, 1938, when he, the youngest of three siblings, was born. His mother was forced to flee their village because of the Japanese invasion. While on the run, many advised her [my great-grandmother] to give up her baby because they thought he would jeopardize their safety. However, she refused and was adamant about keeping him. This one small decision had a huge impact and I would not be here today if she had decided to leave him.
LIFE IN CHINA
My grandfather lived in a house with his mother, older sister, and older brother. His father had left for Peru in 1937 and did not return to China for the duration of my grandpa's childhood there. He opened a business with some partners in Peru and sent money home to his family. Back in China, my grandpa went to school until fifth grade and helped care for their farm. In 1952, at age 14, his father sent for him and he left China to travel to Peru.
His mother gave him enough money to take a bus to a city by the ocean. He traveled with a friend.
From this city, he took a ferry to Hong Kong, where a plane was waiting.
His father had prepaid his plane ticket and the plane took him and his friend to Ecuador, one country away from their destination.
They [his friend and him] were not allowed in Peru and had to stay in Ecuador for the time being. They ended up spending half a year in the country, living in a motel. My grandpa remembers that his dad sent the money to the motel, to pay for his living costs, and the motel provided food and shelter. He does not remember too many details about the motel, but he told me that there was Coca Cola! During this time in Ecuador, they were not allowed to go out, work, or buy things, so they stayed inside the motel and waited to be able to go to Peru. Once arrangements were made, they started on their journey to Lima.
CROSSING INTO PERU
THE SECOND SINO-JAPANESE WAR (1937-1945)
LIFE IN ECUADOR
My grandpa and his friend were smuggled across the Peruvian border illegally and waiting for them on the other side, was a transport truck. They had to lie down beneath the cargo and he remembers there were empty beer bottles covering them. The smugglers drove them until a certain point, where his friend's uncle was waiting for them. He estimates this trip took about a day. After his friend's uncle picked them up, he drove them to Lima, where my great-grandfather was.
In Lima, was my great-grandfather, who had already been there for around 16 years. In this time, he had established a business with partners and was working to bring his family over to Peru from China.
LIFE IN PERU (BEFORE MARRIAGE)
Arriving in Peru at age 13 was no easy adjustment. It was a new country, a new language, a new culture, and living with his father, whom he had never met before. He worked at his father's grocery store for ten years without a salary. To learn Spanish, he had a private tutor who taught him every day for 1-2 hours. After one year in Peru, he was now fluent in Spanish. Eventually, his father brought his brother and his mother over and his sister was married in China before she moved to Canada.
LIFE IN PERU (AFTER MARRIAGE)
When my grandpa was in his twenties, his father went back to China to pick out a wife for him. He decided on a woman, Maria, and once she moved to Peru, they got married. Their wedding date was June 18th, 1963, and my grandpa remembers their banquet had 50 tables, a testament to the large Chinese population in Lima, at the time. Their first daughter, was born in 1964, and within the span of seven years, my grandma had six children, five girls: Maria, Elisa, Lucia, Silvia, Elsa, and the youngest, a boy: Moises. Once he was married, his father gave him a salary in order to support his family. They lived in a house, but it was no easy feat raising six children on a low income.
A TYPICAL DAY
My grandpa said that a typical day for him was dropping off the kids for school in the morning, which started before 8am. Then, he worked at the store from 8am until 12pm, when they closed. He would pick up his kids at 3pm and reopen the store at 4pm until 8pm. At the grocery store, they sold many types of food, such as rice, sugar, pasta, canned goods, etc. Their clientele was mainly Peruvian and they sold 50 bags of 100kg bags of sugar and rice each week.
In 1976, my grandparents decided that they were going to move their family to Canada, Vancouver to be exact. They made this decision for a number of reasons, some of which will be discussed in further slides. They applied for the paperwork in order to move their family of 8 to Canada for a better life.
Ever since 1821, when Peru became independent, it has had an unstable government. An excerpt from the Nations Encyclopedia says, "Since independence, Peru has had 109 presidents, 18 percent of whom were democratically elected. The remaining presidents came to power through military coups (24 percent), replaced a sitting president (21 percent), were named by Congress (18 percent, were delegated (16 percent), or formed part of a commission of notables (3 percent)." My grandpa said that the government would change every couple years, or become corrupt. He says that this instability caused many families to emigrate, and nearly 100 Chinese families moved to Canada partly due to this political unrest.
In the end, what it boiled down to was the hope of a better life for their children. My grandpa tells me that living in Peru, there weren't many job opportunities. You opened up a business and worked at it. This being the case, what would all his daughters do? He had heard that the education in Canada was better, and there would be more opportunities for his children. Additionally, my grandma's side of the family, her parents and all her siblings, were already living in Canada.
One reason my grandma wanted to move was because of the frequent earthquakes that occur in Peru. The reason why is that the country is on the boundary of the Nazca plate and the South American Plate. There were a few major earthquakes in Peru, including the 1974 Lima earthquake, which had a magnitude of 8.1. My mom remembers the walls of her house crumbling, but not much else. This earthquake caused a significant amount of damage to buildings in Lima and Callao, some of which collapsed.
WHAT IMPACT HAS OUR OLDER GENERATIONS' DECISIONS HAD ON US?
After all their paperwork was completed and approved, on December 24th, 1977, they took a plane and landed in Vancouver, Canada, to start a new life, once again.
My mother's family, from left to right:
top row: Moises Chu (son), Maria Chu (mother), Moises Chu (father)
middle row: Lucia Chu (daughter), Maria Chu (daughter), Elisa Chu (daughter)
bottom row: Elsa Chu (daughter), Silvia Chu (daughter)
My grandparents on their wedding day
The 1974 Lima Earthquake
The Chu family had arrived in Canada! They would settle down in Vancouver, BC. Life was not at all easy, they struggled to financially support their six children, but through hard work and perseverance, managed to do it. Here in Canada, they encountered another new country, a new culture, and possibly most daunting of all, the English language. Infamous for its difficulty, my grandparents took classes to improve their English. Every bit of my grandpa's story is a part of mine and I would not be where I am today if he did not make all those hard decisions to move the family and start new lives.