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In Focus | Rina Garcia Chua

Meet Rina Garcia Chua. Rina is originally from the Philippines but has lived in Kelowna for three years now. She loves to hang with her family and work at that Ph.D.

<who> Photo Credit: Rina Garcia Chua
Where are you from and how long have you lived in Kelowna?

I am originally from Manila, Philippines, and I have lived in Kelowna for three years now!

Who is your favourite person to spend time with and why?
There’s only one: Stella (my 10-year-old). She still lives back in Manila but we talk everyday because we’re best friends! The two hours I spend on Facetime with her is my daily energy boost.

What is your favourite local store in Kelowna and why?
Funktional is a store that I proudly take tourists and friends who come visit Kelowna to. I try to shop local as much as possible wherever I go, so Funktional is like heaven to me. Their customer service is excellent, too!

Describe yourself in one word.

If you could go anywhere in the world right at this moment where would you go and why?
I would go to France to trace the paths of great writers and artists throughout the country.

What is your favourite activity in Kelowna?
I love hiking and discovering new trails around here, especially in Mission Creek and UBCO. As a graduate student, I love the fact that I can take a break from writing for an hour and then go out to follow the many trails within and outside campus.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
That one time my Catholic school girl skirt's clasp unraveled and I stood in my undies in front of parents who were eager to pick their children up for one hot second ... until I ran back into my classroom, red-faced and all.
<who> Photo Credit: Rina Garcia Chua
What is the most inspiring thing that has happened to you?

I feel inspired everyday by the stream of individuals I have met since I moved to Canada to begin my PhD. Whether they are my professors, fellow grad students, my students, or the people I chat with randomly on the bus, everyone has a story to tell and I am always eager to learn something from everyone.

Tell us your favourite childhood memory.
When I was 11, I lived for almost a month in a beach house — a house that is literally on top of the shoreline. We had limited access to television and electricity, but in the morning you can see the sand underneath the bamboo floors where the sand crabs run up and into their tiny holes and then at night it fills up with the ocean that has glowing jellyfishes!

Where do you volunteer or give back to in the community?
I volunteer a lot on campus — specifically to offer a safe and productive space to students. I used to be the Graduate Community Facilitator, and this enthused me to continue volunteering for offices like alumni UBC. I also co-run a workshop called Write Now! with the AMP Lab at UBCO that allows pure uninterrupted writing time and space for graduate students on a weekly basis!

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
I want quality education to be accessible to all those who are willing to learn, anywhere in the world.

Where would you sneak away to in Kelowna to spend some time alone?
I have my daily yoga practice at home in my girl cave, as well as routes that I run around the neighbourhood. But if I REALLY want to spend some time alone, then I book a float at Float Space. Floating on salt water is a must for an island girl!

Where would you like to see positive change in Kelowna and why?
Building a Sky Train stretching throughout the Okanagan is something I have been hoping for in this area. Coming from Asia and having traveled a lot around the continent, I am in awe of how efficient commuting is for countries with commuter trains. I know of so many friends who commute or drive from Kelowna to Vernon and so on for either work or school; they spend so much on gas and lose a lot of time on the road. Imagine how efficient travel will be if we had a Sky Train here! I think it'll draw tourists into the city as well.

What do you think makes Kelowna great?
Kelowna is, perhaps, the “Urban Forest” of the Okanagan because on one side there’s the mall, downtown, and all the shops, while on the other, there are trails and hikes and forests. I love that symmetry in Kelowna; you get the best of both environments.
<who> Photo Credit: Rina Garcia Chua
What are 3 things on your bucket list?

First is to finish my Ph.D., of course. Second is to go on a European tour with Stella sometime in the next five years. The last is to win a National Book Award (I was nominated for a National Book Award back home this year but I happily lost to one of the most prolific Filipino writers; so, I would love to win sometime in the future).

Tell us something that not everyone may know about you.
I am not that fond of winter sports, but I do want to try ice climbing sometime soon on a real frozen waterfall!

How do people connect with you, personally, through social media? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
My IG is @sustainingthearchipelago.
My Twitter account is @RainyStarryNyt.
My LinkedIn is

What is the name of your business/organization?
I am a Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Studies student the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies in UBC Okanagan. I am working on my dissertation which focuses on migrant poetry and the environmental humanities.

What has been your biggest struggle either at work or in life?
I’m not a competitive person; however, my biggest competition has been with myself. I think the biggest struggle that I have addressed lately is learning to be kind to myself.

If you could start all over again would you do things the same or would things be different?
I would do the absolute same thing, including having Stella at 21! That life-changing moment spurred me to become the person I am today.

What do you always find yourself saying?
I always tell myself to “breathe in the moment.” It grounds me to my current experience and makes me enjoy life more.
<who> Photo Credit: Rina Garcia Chua
Tell us your best piece of life advice.

What changed my life this year was my conscious decision to be more mindful of my current experiences. I would advise people the same thing: stay present in the moment and be kind to yourself.

If you could spend one whole day with anyone in the world who is currently alive, who would you select?
I need tea time with Tori Amos, Judith Butler, and poet Ada Limón. If I can achieve that (most likely not), then my life is one best-lived.

Why do you think it is important to shop locally?
I am a big advocate of shopping locally for environmental reasons but also to discover the uniqueness of a specific place when you shop locally. You shop not just for consumption, but also to be intimate with the space you are living in.

What has been your proudest accomplishment?
It has been completing my Masters Degree in Literature with an Outstanding Thesis award. A close second is publishing my book last February 2017!

Give someone you think that deserves it a shout out and explain why!
A big shoutout to my favourite nurses at the UBCO Health and Wellness - Nurse Jean and Nurse Tamara. They have taken such good care of me when I’ve found myself sick and silly a couple of times over the past two years.

My choice for the KelownaNow In Focus spotlight is:
Karis Shearer, who is an Associate Professor at UBCO and is such an incredible supporter of fellow students in my department!

Some general comments I would like to share are:
For the past three years, the way Kelowna has grown as a vibrant and engaging city (and now more than just a tourist town) is really encouraging! I love seeing how diverse the city is becoming, as well as the wide array of local businesses that are opening. I am very proud that Kelowna has local businesses like Naked Cafe, The Green Vanity, The Curious Cafe, One Big Table and so much more. I find that this unique local flair makes Kelowna a city you want to live in, and not just stay in for the summer or a season.
<who> Photo Credit: Rina Garcia Chua

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