Chinese-Barbadians make up a small percentage of the country's Asian population, most of whom arrived during World War II from Canton modern-day Guangzhou. In the wider Anglophone Caribbean, it is generally considered that Han ethnic communities migrated to Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago from as early as the beginning of the 1800s, but the largest migration period was between the 1850s-1880s as part of indentured labour schemes on post-emancipation plantation sites.
Given the relative invisibility of Chinese communities in the perception of Barbadian (and wider Caribbean) cultural identity, there is a desire from organizations such as the Barbados-Chinese Association to share their stories of migration and identity. A temporary exhibition focused on digital mediums such as video oral histories, has the potential to showcase the diversity and impact of Chinese-Caribbean identity, and could be easily transportable across the region and to China.
The main concept of From Beijing to Bridgetown is to focus on the relationship between Barbados and China through community stories. While there are many secondary themes within the exhibition, the main highlight is focused on the background of looking at the workplace and the home, as these would be seen as the main areas of interaction between both communities. The intention is to recreate a space that can uniquely feel Chinese Caribbean then utilizing different symbols and items that would have represented home and work life for the Chinese communities in Barbados.
April Zhang first came to Barbados as a volunteer teacher with the Confucius Institute, an organization responsible for educating the wider Barbados society on Chinese language and culture.
She also held the position of interpreter and liaison at a Chinese construction company in Barbados before moving back to China to have her baby in 2021.
During her time in Barbados, April has had numerous opportunities to interact with many locals. She has furthermore found a great appreciation for Barbados culture, food, music and dance especially Soca music.
David Zhang is a missionary with Global Missions, a Methodist based organization, focused on charity and development projects.
He has since been in Barbados for approximately a year and half. During this time, he worked closely with the Methodist church group in Barbados and formed a close bond with the local community.
His appreciation for Barbadian culture is apparent in learning of the Bajan dialect as well as his interest in football.
Ken’s Grandfather S.J Chow was amongst one of the first Chinese to move to Barbados. Ken grew up in Barbados for several years before relocating to Canada for his studies and then moving back to Barbados as a young adult to open his restaurant “New Century”.
He is currently the President of the Chinese Association of Barbados and does his best in his role to be a part of the effort in bridging the gap of cultural understanding between Barbados and China.
Jonathon is a third-generation Chinese. Having a father of Chinese descent and an Indian Trinidadian mother. His father is the youngest of seven from the Cho family. Jonathon is also an avid history buff, professional writer/blogger, and cook. He enjoys experimenting with different foods. One of his contributions to the “Basian” journey has been showcasing fusions of Chinese and Barbadian food. Most recently for the Fish and Dragon festival Jonathon created a black belly lamb bun. In 2016, Jonathon has also had the opportunity to visit his ancestral home in Guangdong. Furthermore, he has spent a significant amount of time in other parts of Asia.
Philomena is the eldest of seven children. Her family was the first complete family to move to Barbados from Trinidad.
Both her parents come from Guangdong province. As a child, Philomena was taught Cantonese but due to peer pressure and being made to feel ashamed of her Chinese heritage, she stopped speaking the language.
She now currently serves as Treasurer and shares the responsibility of Public Relations Officer for the Chinese Association of Barbados. In this role, she has assisted in several initiatives, namely, the Fish and Dragon festival which has helped to further educate the wider Barbadian population on Chinese language and culture.
Outside of her work in the local Chinese community, Philomena has built a reputation within the local and regional Banking sector. She has proven herself to be a true leader both in personal and professional lives.