At Laurier Brantford we can be thankful for a multitude of caring professors who are more than just brilliant – they’re committed to their students and engaged in campus community.
While you may see them in front of a classroom, it’s important to know that most of these educational leaders are also working on their own research projects and contributing to university administration at the same time.
These are human beings just like you and I. They too have to juggle schedules and demanding workloads. I’m grateful that I could sit down with Dr. Christina Han – an associate professor in the History Department – and ask her how she manages to do it.
Q: What brought you to Laurier Brantford?
A: I got the job here seven years ago. I did my PhD. at the University of Toronto and after finishing my PhD. I taught there for a year and a half. When an opening came up at Laurier in Brantford I applied, did the interview, and I got the job.
Q: Why teaching history?
A: I didn’t start in the history program – my undergrad was in cultural studies. Originally, I wanted to be a filmmaker, so I was in York University’s cultural studies program which was in conjunction with the film studies program. I did that for three years – I made films – and decided it was very different from what I envisioned it to be. When I was studying film and fine arts I also took a lot of history courses and realized that I actually really enjoyed the academic work. I loved to write, I loved to read – of course I still liked artistry – and my interests transitioned. I then did my Masters in East Asian studies, which was history heavy, and voila – I’m here.
Q: What do you do when you’re not being a professor?
A: If you see me teaching a class you may not know that while this is Dr. Han teaching history I am also a real human being. I’m a mother of two, I’ve been married for fourteen years, I cook and do the dishes back home. I’ve been very blessed with my family – it’s hard to manage family life while you’re studying, and I had both kids while I was a PhD. student. My husband who is a pastor has been super supportive and schedule-wise it worked out for us because he’s busy evenings and weekends but during the day he’s able to help with the children.
Q: What do you love about being a cultural historian?
A: I like to explore my own background and interest in the arts. I love telling stories of the past using different means like exhibits, film, podcasts, books, and articles. I also love creating events and bringing the community together, like bridging student bodies and local communities. The second year here I started the Lunar New Year event – which started very small but grew to become a major event for the campus. Last year the local martial arts school came to perform and Laurier International got involved. This year I was told we’re expecting two hundred and thirty students! This January the event will be on the 23. Each year we pick a theme and set up displays in RCW lobby to engage and educate students and community.
Q: What are your next projects?
A: My next book project looks at short classical poems that were shared in 16 – 19 century East Asia in much the same way we share tweets or texts. I also hope to keep telling the stories of Brantford’s immigrant communities as this history of Brantford has not been told for a really long time. Brantford used to be one of the most multicultural cities in Canada, believe it or not, and I think it’s really important to explore and tell these stories. Hopefully I can turn it into a larger project that students researchers and community members can get involved in.
I lieu of a sweeping conclusion about how much I appreciate Dr. Han for doing this interview and her dedication to the Laurier Brantford community I’ll let her student’s comments speak for themselves;
“Dr. Christina Han’s classes are my favourite history classes to take. She has the sweetest personality and has the ability to make any lesson interesting and enjoyable. She also creates a welcoming and comfortable community by making an effort to get to know all of her students, history majors or not. I try to take every class she teaches.”
- Sarah VB. English Major (3rd Year)
“I find Christina always actively seeks out new ways to engage with every student on a personal level, whether over coffee, after class, or within community events she is a part of. I can clearly see her passion for her work and for others within the university and broader communities, inspiring me to want to learn and grow more as a student and as an individual. I have come to really appreciate the many projects she is always working on or a part of, as well as her open invitations to the sharing of these with the community.”
Caleb A. History Major (3rd Year)