My parents sent me to Toronto, Canada in 1974 as a high school student leaving everything and everyone I knew behind in Hong Kong, the only home I had even known.
For the first time in my life, I was alone and lost in a strange city, surrounded by strangers. As much as these strangers were welcoming and friendly, nothing could replace the loneliness I felt being so far from my friends and loved ones.
I had two choices at this point, continue to wallow in past or look towards the future. I chose the latter. To have friends, I would need to be able to make meaningful relationships and the only way to do so was to be able to communicate with them. I focused my efforts on learning English and my efforts paid off.
As my grasp of the English language grew, so did my circle of friends, and Scarborough Toronto quickly became my new home as I surrounded myself with new friends, connections, and memories.
Having always been a problem solver, I realized other new immigrants would suffer the same way I did during their transition process. I committed myself to making that transition for them as seamless as possible as a volunteer at the Queens Mental Centre, and the University Settlement House as a translator.
I had overcome my first hurdle, and my second was just beginning – moving from student life to work life. As reality set in, I gradually came to realize that I would now need to make ends meet and shift my focus to survival.