Respect my land–Kunming by Jessie Li

Link to my video:

Transcript: We’re all sprinting onward, yet our hearts and last vestiges of belonging always fall to the roots.
When I see the sky translucent due to the blue, the air is crisp. Through the open doors of certain people, you may see roses, orchids, and others blooming in the historic courtyard. As the sun sank and colourful clouds shrouded the sky, Kunming filled my sense of belonging.
My city, Kunming, is well-known because of the pleasant weather. It’s decorated with flowers all throughout, and when I open my eyes, it’s always “springtime.” In a low-latitude plateau and mountain monsoon climate, daylight hours are prolonged, and frost season is brief; in my recollection, the red-billed gulls travelled from afar and landed in the city, avoiding the cold wind in the northern sea. It was also tinged with the town’s adoration and a yearning for it. Factory and gas pollutions are absent, resulting in a pristine blue sky. Each cloud generates a unique skyscape. I enjoy watching them because they are unpredictable and untethered. They create one-of-a-kind works of art on the canvas of the sky. There is always a point in twilight when the sun gradually dims, misty and trance-like, the city turns purple-gray, the world unexpectedly grinds to a halt, and the people on the street appear to be in the past.
I walked the regular route through the market, realizing it wasn’t like the market I remembered, with only a tiny table and a layer of plastic bags on the ground. New stalls were built, and each was neat and tidy. The only things that haven’t changed were the vendors’ zeal and genuine smiles on their faces. Walking along the path, the former gravel road has been converted into a smooth cement road with lamps installed. The ground was bathed in a warm yellow light that stretched the shadows out for miles. A warm breeze frequently brought me back home when I was studying abroad. It was a city in my heart but had infused my memory with fairy tales. It’s a dream vision, but I see blue waves in Dianchi Lake and mandarin ducks splashing in Green Lake. Memories are similar to sequences from a film that can be replayed only in my mind.
When I was a child, my hometown’s never-ending sunny rays instilled a positive philosophy toward life. Although the world does not exist in a dreamlike state, here impacted me. This sensation has profoundly affected my entire life, inspiring me to cherish my heart and the world into which I was born for the rest of my days.
Home is more than a geographical concept. I used to think that time moved slowly and that nothing changed. But everything is changing, including the environment, and the only thing that will remain constant is the beauty of my land. We miss home, especially those ordinary people and small things unwittingly strewn across our daily lives. Perhaps here is not a particularly contemporary city, and isn’t the most abundant, amazing, or wild one, but here, people have embraced nature; this is not to say that Kunming is a paradise for me, but it is a place that offers me great consolation whenever I am crying or homesick, quietly tucked away in my heart like a treasure. The beauty here can’t be captured in a single video; it’s a combination of perceptual aspects; it’s the eternal and softest poetry in the depths of my heart.

Your World, Our World-a POV
For this project, I decided to connect my life in my home country with my experiences in Canada by making a video from gifs and photos. I came to Canada five months ago. In the beginning, I found it very hard, to transition to the lifestyle over here, mostly because this was my first time being alone in the world.
I was raised in a religious family but I consider myself an atheist. But when things got rough, after moving here, I found solace in religion. Knowing that maybe there might be someone looking out for me gave me comfort. One noticeable difference I found between Canada and India is that people aren’t as religious over here. In India, Gods were everywhere. We had idols of them in our house, there were temples on roads and there was always some kind of religious ceremony happening. But over here I rarely see people talking about religion or praying.
Even though Canada is so different, the people over here are good. They are kind and accepting people. I appreciate this land and its people for the respect they have shown for my land and its traditions.

My World: A POV

I’ve written a collection of poetry about my experiences growing up in two places simultaneously. On paper, I have always lived in Scarborough. But because of school and extra curricular activities, my life was always in Markham. I initially had a different idea for the direction of this project; it was going to tell a whole story of growing up to where I am now. But I found that focusing on a smaller, more intimate story made for a clearer overall narrative. The collection is formatted like a book, and I’ve included an introduction at the beginning where I give a more detailed explanation of the idea behind my work. There are nine poems in total: four long format “spoken word”-like poems and five shorter haikus. The pdf is interactive, and for each poem, I’ve recorded myself reciting them, so if you click on the pdf they should play (I think the pdf needs to be opened in adobe acrobat for the voice over to work) (I’ve also just included the audio files just in case)– I think that hearing them spoken can give them more meaning than just reading them. I also went out and took pictures around my house and neighbourhood to go with each poem.


Trini Tabanca

When approaching this presentation, I was thinking about what aspects of my life I could dissect. However, I quickly realised that I shouldn’t just dissect my relationship with land, I should be dissecting my identity to establish a relationship with land. I hope you enjoy going through a mini-nostalgic journey to my home.


(I was having some trouble putting the PDF directly in this post, sorry.)

Link to Narrated Version:

Link to PDF:


Alina & Mohammad


For this project we brainstormed what we had in common and learnt that we are both originally from Lahore, Pakistan. We both moved to Toronto at different times but had similar experiences, and our relationship to the land is also similar. We wanted to capture the bits of our homeland are present in Toronto, and the places we go to when we feel homesick. Enjoy!