Joaquim Lei: Inspiration, club president and linguistics artist

Photograph by C Hayley Halstead

Born and raised in Macau, China, BC student Joaquim Lei suffered an immense language barrier upon moving to North America. Lei resided with his oldest brother in Toronto for his final year of high school, but was ready for a change in his environment and moved to the United States to start his college education here at BC.

Initially, Lei studied biochemistry, but because of his  talent in learning languages, Lei redirected, and is now aiming at studying holistic linguistics. Currently, he is fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin and English with some knowledge in Japanese and Portuguese.

With graduation sneaking up, this ready-to-graduate student embraces school and is constantly succeeding. This spring quarter, Lei has enrolled in four courses – 20 credits – while simultaneously being the BC Photography and Piano Club president.

Lei is constantly promoting his club and working on planning field trips and events. “Photography makes memories; it’s a very powerful tool for expression,” explained Lei when asked to describe what photography means to him. This week, his club is hosting an exhibition event that incorporates the Fashion Club that will last until Thursday, June 7.

While Lei is now an involved BC student with campus life, including not only the Piano and Photography Club, but also Fashion Club, Glee Club and Peer to Peer, he used to be what Lei believes many BC students do: Attend class and then head home. After learning about Photography club, Lei became a member. Becoming involved on campus educated Lei about how the school works, which includes Student Programs, Food Services, Counseling Services and general interaction with people he may not typically talk with. By becoming active on campus, not only did Lei make a ton of friends, but also, was able to land a job as a tutor in nutrition.

Because of his wonderful experience, Lei shares with fellow international students, “Try to be involved on campus. Try to accept or learn more about other cultures and other people. It will definitely help you in both your personal and academic life. You’ll become more aware of your surroundings.” Though this specific word of wisdom was directed at international students, Lei still believes other BC students should follow his advice.

Lei looks forward to attending commencement and receiving his Associate’s Degree in Arts and Science, but his Bellevue fun will come to an end on July 29 when he will leave the country and move to Portugal. Lei has obtained a European Union passport, which means he can reside anywhere in Europe permanently. He views this as a strong marketable asset.

In Portugal, Lei plans to study languages more intensely, with strong interest in becoming an international businessman.

For his final words of wisdom to graduating BC students, Lei says, “Whenever you’re down, never give up because you will be successful at last. No matter where you go, you will have a bright future.”

Lei will be attending the BC commencement on Friday, June 15, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the gymnasium, with many other BC students joining him dressed in their caps and gowns.