Dr. Huimei Liu from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou will be exploring Chinese-Canadian youths' participation in leisure activities and its impact on their integration into mainstream society.
The saying goes that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; it can also begin with the opening of a book.
For Chinese leisure scholar Huimei (Candice) Liu, visiting from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, it was the reading of “Understanding Leisure and Recreation,” a book by professors emeriti Tim Burton and Edgar Jackson that marked that step and the beginning of a long association with the University of Alberta.
“The relationship between this faculty, Zhejiang University and Hangzhou city has existed for a while,” says Liu. “Before and during the 2006 Hangzhou World Leisure Expo, professors Karen Fox, Ed Jackson, Tom Hinch and Gordon Walker all made great contributions and visited Hangzhou.” In addition she has translated “Constraints to Leisure” into Chinese and her colleagues are translating “A Social Psychology of Leisure,” a book co-authored by Walker, further intertwining the universities’ interests in each other’s work.
Thanks to being awarded a ‘new star project’ by Zhejiang University and the Chinese Government in 2011 which affords leading scholars with the opportunity to spend two years doing research at a foreign university, she’s finally fulfilling her wish to visit Canada for the first time.
“The goal of star projects is to facilitate the cooperation and collaboration between our universities and you need more than a year to do that,” Liu explains. “Our universities have already cooperated on many levels and we have a memorandum of agreement in place - now we need to gravitate this collaboration to the level of specific faculties and colleges. This is where the true cooperation will take place."
As part of this gravitation of collaboration Liu, who also serves as deputy director of the Asia Pacific Centre for the Education and Study of Leisure at Zhejiang University will be writing a book on leisure policy during her sojourn, stemming from the 2010 project she was awarded. “This project was focused on learning about how the Canadian and Alberta governments, parks associations and other leisure related departments and agencies operate, are funded and managed, how new facilities are built, and how they are accessible to the public, etc.” she says. “The University of Alberta has a long history of expertise in this area; Tim Burton has written many papers on leisure policy that have influenced my work.”
Liu believes the pursuit and enjoyment of leisure activities has many beneficial impacts on our physical, cultural and spiritual well-being. It’s therefore no surprise, she notes, that when newcomers make their home in a new country, participating in leisure activities with citizens of the country can facilitate their social integration. To that end, she has a strong interest in a research study looking at the leisure experiences of Chinese-Canadian adolescent youth and how it’s helped or hindered their social integration into mainstream Canadian society.
“I am currently gathering stories from Chinese-Canadian parents and I would like to communicate with other parents and their children about their experiences I think understanding more about how leisure helps create social identity would be of interest to both China and Canada in terms of integrating immigrants into mainstream society by means of leisure activities,” she says.
She’ll also be working on several projects with Walker. One of those projects will be working on Walker’s four-country study of university students in Canada, China, Japan and The Netherlands, to examine how their experiences of leisure affect their well-being.
“I see many more opportunities to collaborate with scholars in the faculty beyond those in the leisure field,” says Liu.
“Knowing my doctoral dissertation explored the relationship between urbanization and leisure time physical activity participation, Dr. Walker has also encouraged me to approach other scholars in this faculty who have done excellent research in physical activity. If other researchers are interested in doing research about China I would like to see how I can contribute and participate, or I can also introduce them to my colleagues at home. Therefore, my purpose here is twofold: one is to focus my own research making full use of this precious opportunity, which enables me to work with the best researchers from this faculty; the other is to be a bridge to connect people from our two universities and help build more cooperation opportunities!”
If you’d like to contact Dr. Huimei Liu, she is located in room E4-67 in the East Wing of the Van Vliet Centre. Email her at email@example.com
- The University of Alberta and Zhejiang University are both members of the Worldwide Universities Network which currently comprises 18 research-intensive universities.
- Zhejiang University ranks third in China, has the largest number of students and the most comprehensive disciplines. In 2007, Zhejiang University was authorized by the Chinese State Council to offer a doctoral degree in leisure studies. It is still the only one in China to do so.