Exploring Japan & Asian diaspora stories, Shaun Chee quit his corporate job in Sydney, Australia and has been travelling across Asia creating some amazing content. Here are some content highlights that we have handpicked, just to show you the variety and depth of Shaun’s storytelling. Evident from his posts, Shaun has been in Japan speaking to us for this interview earlier in the year. We hope that you will explore his YouTube channel, Bordersless as a first step before reading the interview. You will surely be in for a borderless ride!
What is your experience growing up in Australia? Tell us about 3 most distinct memories.
On the surface, I had a typical childhood in Sydney. Played sport, enjoyed video games and spent the summer days sweating it out at home or at the beach! It’s difficult to point out any particular memory but some of the more distinct ones have to do with growing up in a predominantly white suburb as an Asian Australian:
- Going to after-school tutoring while my peers played sport or had fun.
- My parents sending me to taekwondo classes after I was experiencing schoolyard taunts and bullying at school.
- Feeling self-conscious early-on in life about how different I was, whether it be the lunchboxes I brought to school, or the way I looked/spoke.
What do you think influenced your artistic eye?
As a result of these negative experiences, I largely rejected much of my Asian heritage and culture for most of my life. It’s only in the last few years that I have made an effort to reconnect with my roots.
I think much of the content I produce around Asia, belonging and identity is really an extension of my childhood experiences and desire to reconnect with my roots.
Do share your career highlights. What were the lows and the highs?
Likeany young graduate, getting that 1st “real” job is so sweet. Your years of studying and hard work have finally paid off! The path your parents told you to take will lead to happiness and success…right?
After spending a few years in the corporate world and climbing the ladder, I started to feel discontented. Do I really want to be doing the same thing for the next 40 years? If this was considered success by my family and society, I didn’t want it.
What was it that made you pivot in your career? Was it a hobby turned career? Why the change?
It got to a point where I was so exhausted from work, that I spent most weekends trying recover in time for the following work week. Though my work hours got better as I progressed through my career, I had this strong feeling that I was wasting my time and that I could be doing something more impactful.
I know people say that work is just work and that you shouldn’t get too emotionally invested but I just felt that life is much more than punching the clock. And with no real clear plan, I took a career break in 2019 to travel around Asia and study in Chinese in Taiwan on a scholarship, with the aim of reconnecting with my roots and culture. However, COVID hit and I was forced to return to Australia and start from square one.
That career break gave me the time to think and re-assess my position. If I wanted to get out of the corporate game, then I needed to build up other skills that could lead to me down a different path. So, I tried everything that was interested in…from podcasting, videography, photography and how to leverage social media.
Luckily, I managed to secure some clients and work on some interesting projects within a year of transitioning out of my old office job, but time will tell if I’ll keep doing this long-term! There’s something to be said about the comfort and security of a corporate monthly wage!
What is the one thing you strive to do in your life? Have you been successful in achieving that?
Trying to be my authentic self has been one the main things I strive to do. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of listening to the opinions of others, whether it be your parents, friends, societal expectations, etc., but there’s a point in life where you need to start listening to yourself and take action to be at a place you want to be.
Especially if you grew up in an environment where you were constantly being compared or made to feel different, it’s very easy to think that you’re not capable and that you should just follow the “safe” path. And the longer you think and operate a certain way, it becomes harder to break out of these negative thoughts and patterns.
It’s a constant work in progress to overcome those feelings of self-doubt and discover your true values and passions but hopefully I’m improving with each day that passes.
You have a YouTube channel, Bordersless. Tell us a little about this project.
BordersLess started off as a podcast that covered Asians born in the West that had decided to move back to Asia and leverage their unique skills and cross-cultural talents.
“Go back to where you came from” is a term that is often directed at the Asian diaspora communities, so I tried to find the people who did just that. I’ve interviewed several successful entrepreneurs that have found more success in Asia than if they decided to stay put in the West.
BordersLess has slowly transformed to become a platform that not only promotes Asian Diaspora success but also other topics that interest me, whether it be Asian-Australian mental health, entrepreneurship in Asia or even geopolitics.
Is health and fitness important to you? Care to share about your daily routine?
Health and fitness have become more important to me as I get older. There was a time where I could eat & drink anything I wanted without gaining any weight!
When I was working a corporate job where I was sitting for most of the week, I would make an effort to get away from the desk at much as I could, whether it be walks at lunch, scheduling meetings outside of the office or hitting the gym when I could.
More recently as I’ve transitioned to freelance work with no regular schedule, I do 10,000 steps a day as an absolute minimum and will also do pushups, situps or burpees at home when I don’t have access to a gym. I also try to combine exercise with friends, whether it be going on hikes or playing tennis on the weekends.
Finally, what’s your ultimate favourite thing to do?
I think uplifting others who share similar life experiences and who are actively striving to improve themselves and their situations is something I find much value in. I hope that the content I produce gives someone the inspiration to act and find more meaning in their lives.
Sieving through video content published by Bordersless, we found this two-part video documentary on Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew.
Photos supplied by Shaun Chee.
Connect with Bordersless:
AFT Interviews: Digital Creator, Shaun Chee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Quote Source: aft-interviews-digital-creator-shaun-chee