I was born in the Philippines and lived there for the first 10 and ½ years of my life. I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life there. Clearly, my expectations for the future were far from the truth.

Little did I know that my parents had applied to immigrate to Canada at around 2002 in hopes of a better future for me and my brother. What they had envisioned was me as a college graduate with hopes and dreams of working abroad in order to earn more money and struggling to make that dream come true. They were thinking way ahead into the future as I was only 5 years old and still in kindergarten.

It took 6 years for our visa to get approved. My parents thought that maybe our application was rejected because it took so long for them to hear back from the embassy.

For my parents, moving to Canada was a dream but even if our application got rejected, it wouldn’t have been a huge deal. My mother worked as an English teacher and holds a Master’s degree in Educational Management, while my father had a lucrative career as an engineer. They had good jobs so they didn’t need to move to a new country, leave everything behind and start from scratch. They made the move out of pure love for me and my brother and for that, I am eternally grateful.

When I was in 9th grade, one of my teachers called me a goody two shoes.

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I was quite offended when she said that…because it’s kind of true. Looking back on that comment, I now realize that the root of my purity and goodness (sarcasm) is the fact that I felt sorry for my parents. I was there when my mom broke the news to my now late grandpa about our move to Canada and him saying that maybe that was the last time they’d ever see each other. His words unfortunately came true as he passed away 4 months after we moved to Toronto. I watched my parents work tirelessly during our first few months here while struggling to adapt to a new way of life.

So for me, getting good grades and being a good kid was subconsciously my way of showing gratitude to my parents who have worked so hard and have sacrificed so much to give me a bright future. How could I possibly repay my parents for all their sacrifice by being a rebellious teen? I couldn’t hurt them like that. I think almost every child of immigrants feels this way. We want to show them that we were worth all the blood, sweat, and tears. It’s my way of expressing how much I appreciate them without actually telling them because we all know how sappy that is. Who needs to show emotions when there’s a way around it, amirite?

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Being a child of immigrants and being an immigrant myself has taught me the importance of hard work, resilience, and to always be grateful for what I have. It opened my eyes to the diversity of the world, having lived in the multicultural city of Toronto for 8 years now. I now see the world as a much bigger place than I used to and it introduced me to my love of travel.

It’s weird to think about how different my life would be had I stayed in the Philippines. It’s hard for me to picture for sure but what I do know is that despite of all the challenges that came with moving to a new country, I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world.