Being a Chinese myself, I have never thought about taking photos of oversea Chinese people as my social documentary project. Since I grew up as a Chinese in Taiwan, I was taught in the culture; therefore everything that has to do with Chinese is ordinary to me. When my art professors suggested this idea to me, I began to seriously think about the opportunity of developing a story of Chinese people in Berlin, Germany.
Because of the historical background of the country, it is difficult to find an area of the city where they live together, such as a China Town; therefore I started my research by visiting the Berlin Chinese Church located on Nassauische Street. On my way over there on a Sunday afternoon, I did not realize how excited I was since I had not encountered any Chinese people for more than 2 years, as a result of living in small town Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
Meeting so many Chinese people from various backgrounds, I have developed a story that is not only theirs, but also very much mine as well. Left Taiwan when I was 12, haven’t gone back for 3 years, I am starting to worry about losing my native language and culture. Some of these people I encountered totally abandoned their past and moved on with a different lifestyle, some of them try to hang on to the things that reminds them that they are still Chinese. All of these people made serious life-changing decisions to leave their countries for better lives, better educations, better finances, better families, and better futures. This is a story of Chinese Berliners’ willingness to put their past aside so their dreams could come true.
Chi-Chan Yu was born in Taiwan on October 26th, 1986 and grew up in a small town called Shin-Wu. The characters in his name, “Chi-Chan,” mean prayer and praise. He added the English name, Paul, when his family lived in Florida for three months in 1996. The name stuck with him ever since. In 1999, his family decided to move to the Philippines as missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translation. His family lived in Manila, Philippines for 7 years. Paul went back home to Taiwan almost every summer. On the summer of 2006, Paul graduated from Faith Academy, the largest school for missionary kids in the world. He then came to the states to attend college at John Brown University as a cinema major. Paul is finishing his bachelor’s degree in May 2009. He has not returned home to Taiwan for three years in order to continue with his education and avoid being drafted into the military.