Posted on July 24, 2023

Nina Yan's Inspiring Journey

Adult upgrading student - Nina


Basic Education student Nina Yan is a shining example of persistence in the pursuit of learning. 

As a child, Nina was not allowed to go to school. She lived in China during a time when the government persecuted families like hers who had connections to Hong Kong and Taiwan. When she was 17, her family immigrated to Vancouver in search of a better life.

Nina's early experiences in Vancouver were challenging. She was placed in high school classes without any prior schooling or knowledge of English. Struggling to communicate and connect with her peers, she felt a deep sense of shame and isolation. Eventually, she left school to work as a waitress in Chinatown. She was poorly paid, poorly treated, and wanted more. 

When Nina became a mother, she devoted herself to providing her children with a bright future, hoping to spare them the challenges she faced. As a working single mom, Nina supported her two children through high school. They even went on to graduate from university, at which point they encouraged her to make herself a priority and go back to school. 

With a desire to learn, Nina enrolled in the Basic Education Program at Vancouver Community College. In this supportive and inclusive learning environment, she found a renewed sense of purpose and belonging.

The Basic Education Program offered Nina the opportunity to develop fundamental skills in English, math, and computer literacy. With patient and encouraging teachers, Nina's confidence grew. She recalls her journey from feeling like she had "zero skills" with reading, writing and computers to proficiently using Zoom, email, and Microsoft Word. She also delights in having the numeracy skills to find the best deals when shopping.

Through her experiences with Basic Education, Nina has found a new lease on life. She says she feels young again and empowered to contribute to her community. In her spare time, she volunteers to teach Chinese to children, sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for learning. She emphasizes that Basic Education is “a wonderful starting point” for anyone eager to learn and grow, regardless of their background or previous education.

Learn more about our Adult Basic Education programs.