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The Empress celebrates a milestone

The Empress celebrates a milestone

Founded in 1994, the University’s only student-run bilingual publication celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Laureen Hu, 2013-2014 executive director of The Empress (right) and her editor, Jane Shui.

Anyone looking for Laureen Hu, Com’16, last term would have found her in the University Archives. That’s where she spent much of her spare time, poring over back issues of The ­Empress, the ­campus’s only bilingual ­student publication. But not in Canada’s two official languages.

Laureen is the 2013-2014 executive director of The Empress, a Chinese-English publication that was launched in 1994. In the spring, she, editor Jane Shui, Com’16, and their 20-member student ­editorial team created a 20th ­anniversary edition. In preparation, Laureen spent many hours combing through back issues to learn more about what was on the minds of the students who first created The Empress.

“When they started it, they ­really wanted to ­appeal to new ­immigrants,” says Laureen, who moved to Calgary from China when she was a teen­ager. “Back then, most of the Chinese students at Queen’s were from Hong Kong. It was a very small population. So they came up with the idea of creating a publication that would serve as a bridge on campus, ­allowing Canadian students to better ­understand Chinese culture and helping Chinese ­students become more immersed in the mainstream.”

First published in English and “traditional ­Chinese”, the standard characters used in Hong Kong, The Empress moved into publishing in simplified Chinese as more students from mainland China began arriving at Queen’s in the mid-2000s. “As the Chinese economy bloomed, more ­Chinese parents began sending their children to Canada for a better education,” Laureen notes.

In 2010, the publication took on the name “Queen’s Chinese Press” to reflect that cultural shift.

In a bid to broaden readership, Laureen changed the publication’s name back to The ­Empress when she became executive director last September in hopes of appealing to a broader, more diverse audience. Laureen says that while most ­contributors are bilingual, fluency in Chinese isn’t a prerequisite for getting involved. “We have ­translators available,” she says.

The 20th anniversary edition of The Empress included reprints of archival stories as well as some editorial content that was published in ­traditional – rather than simplified – Chinese ­characters. “We wanted to recall what mattered to students in past,” says Laureen, “from what they thought about

Hong Kong being returned to China in 1997, to their reaction to 9/11 and other world events.”

Laureen, who plans to specialize in accounting and finance, says her involvement with The ­Empress has given her opportunities to learn a lot about Queen’s, and even more about business. “There’s nothing more practical than this magazine,” she laughs. “I’ve been able to apply all my business skills, from marketing to giving ­presentations.”

However, she says the best part of being involved with The Empress has been being connected to something more enduring than her own time here at Queen’s.

“I hope I can pass on the spirit of The Empress to the next generation of students,” she says. “Hopefully one day someone will pick up all our ­articles and be blown away by the devotion that we brought to the publication.”

[Queen's Alumni Review 2014-3 cover]