I arrived to Canada on a cold night of February 2007. The country was so foreign to me, but I was so excited to be in a peaceful and safe environment. It only took me minutes to lose my excitement when I couldn’t interchange one word with the immigration officer at the airport I arrived because I did not know English at all. I became so sad as I could already sense that what lied ahead of me was not easy.
I began my life in my new city, Windsor, after successfully being allowed to stay in Canada as Convention Refugee. Very few words could describe how happy I was to have been given the opportunity to live safely in Canada. No words could also describe how difficult it was for me to go to elementary school, when I was already attending high school in my home country, to go to school without knowing English, without friends, and without my mother, because she was still back home in danger. Alone in my room, every night I cried endlessly every night until I eventually fell asleep because my eyes felt so tired of crying. It felt as though I had no motivation to make it in this country; all the goals I brought with me seemed so far away and so unreachable. I did not forget, however, that I was in a country full of opportunities.
As my first school summer break approached, I realized I had no other option but to use this time to improve my language skills. I knew this would also save me from so many embarrassing situations in the future (those moments when you only say yes because you do not understand and perhaps you should be saying something else!). Two years later, I was able to complete university credits in high school such as English and Math in regular classes. Two years later, I was walking down the aisle of graduation and was the recipient of several thousand dollars in scholarships to attend university. You might be asking: “How did you do it?”
I learned that I was the only one who could discipline and encourage myself to reach my goals. All the advice I attentively received from family, community support workers, books and even the embarrassing situations were not enough because I was the only one who had the key to self-discipline myself when the times became tough. As a believer in God, I put my faith in him and then forced myself to study arduously, to get involved in the community and to seek lots of knowledge. Being self-disciplined meant learning from my mistakes, setting small goals to reach greater ones, learning two languages instead of one, and focusing on what I had control of — my education. It even meant not realizing that I was being self-disciplined, but dedicated to reaching a target.
I was able to attend the University of Windsor. In my first year of university, I was blessed to take on the position of Settlement Worker to assist refugees, and newcomers in the city of Windsor. Today, three years later, I have graduated from the University of Windsor with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce. I know three more languages than when I first came to Canada, but I am not stopping here because I continue to believe that Canada is a country full of opportunities.
It is my desire that after you read this humble story, you may find inspirations in these words to renew your dreams and goals in this country because I believe we are all strong individuals who are resilient enough to leave everything behind to pursue hope and peace. It is also my desire that you may remember that my story is to show you that success starts from inside us. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines self-discipline as follows: the ability to make yourself do things that should be done.