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The Very Honest and Transparent First Generation Experience

Undergrad thesis project on the first-generation immigrated family experience.

In the years of 1980’s-1990’s, making the move to immigrate from Hong Kong to Canada was a journey that many experienced, including my parents, who immigrated in 1992. With my brother and I born and raised in Canada, there are sure to be differences, not only the inevitable generational differences, but in the forms of social, cultural, and economical differences as well.


This exploration examines these differences between my life as a first-generation child, alongside my brother’s, to my parents’ lives as first-generation immigrants through personal interviews that investigate an in-depth understanding of their immigration journey. With the common-ground of the term “first-generation”, this analysis will look at how culture and tradition is carried on through a generation past an immigrated experience.


September 2022 - April 2023


InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop


How do the lives of a first generation Canadian-born child differ from the lives of a first-generation immigrant of Canada? How did my parents preserve their tradition and culture through my brother and I in a completely new country at the time?

How is tradition and culture preserved through first-generation immigrants to first-generation-born children?

With my primary research, I interviewed my family, including my parents and my brother. After conducting these interviews, I used the information I learned and created a book to visualize tell the story of my family through a publication.

In my personal family, I've always noticed a slight disconnect between my brother and I, and my parents, no matter what we talked about. With my research, I wanted to create an opportunity for my parents to express and tell their life stories for my brother and I to have a better understanding of their journey. This also allowed my family to have a better understanding and more empathy for each other.

In the research stages, I wrote a literature review for my secondary research, prior to my primary research, the interviews. You can read it here. You can also find my initial research proposal here.


Having these conversations with my family, made me realize how little I actually knew about them despite growing up with them my entire life. Many of the families I know in my personal life are also in a similar home-life dynamic as me whenever I spoke with my peers about it, most would say that they also did not know very much about their parents' lives before they immigrated here.


I thought about how I could use this to help other families similar to mine, first-generation immigrated parents, and first-generation outside country born children, have deeper and meaningful conversations. 


"Every story has two sides."

Using the phrase "every story has two sides" in mind, I created "2 books in 1" where one side starts off from my parent's lives before they meet and immigrate together. The other side being from my brother and I's perspectives growing up in a different country, where we meet our parents in the middle of the book.

Book Flip-Through

The naming of the books, Chapter '92, and Chapter '01, follows the theme of reading from the respective perspectives. My parents immigrated to Canada in 1992, and my birth year being 2001, I took the years and called it a chapter in reference to the different chapters that exist in a lifetime. 

View the full book's digital spreads here.

The two sides of the story!


The conversations I had with my family in my interviews helped lead me to the creation of these cards that is all about being transparent and honest with your family members. It is an opportunity for these families like mine, to understand one another better, and to learn and accept each others' generational differences along their separate journeys.


With the entirety of the project being surrounded about honesty and transparency with family, I wanted to incorporate that into the mediums I used. Throughout the publication, I printed certain pages (the large-scaled quote pages) on vellum sheets, to keep display vulnerability and transparency in these quotations and interview excerpts.

To carry on the concept of transparency into the cards, I chose to print them onto a thicker medium that is completely transparent, unlike the vellum from the book, which would have been flimsy and weak.

To stick to the theme of personal storytelling and honesty, I chose to bind my book by hand, myself. I used a single page stitching method with two different brown-shades of thread, which goes through every individual page, creating a more personal touch to the publication.


Single-page Stitching


Digital Thumbnails

Printed Thumbnails


Working on this over the course of 8 months, on a topic I am truly passionate about, really allowed me to use my creative juices to create something meaningful not only to me, but something i have strong feelings for. This was an opportunity for me to have a deeper understanding of the generational gap between my parents and I, as well as the journey and sacrifices they had to experience. One of the strongest realizations I believe I have from this project, is the fact that this is also my parents' first lives, just like my brother and I.

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