Category Archives: My Experiences

From Model United Nations conferences, to Global Issue Conferences, to Shad Valley, or travelling to a foreign country. Follow me on this magic carpet ride on how these experiences have changed me and made me the person I am today!

I’d like my rainy mornings with a cup of love

This is an essay that is very near and dear to my heart. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did when I wrote it ❤

 

I’m not ever this happy to see rain but as it comes barrelling through the dusty mountainous terrain, I can’t stop myself from smiling. Looking into Arturo’s eyes, I see the miracle. As the big drops of rain mix with the tears on our faces, I am taken back to a decade ago.

 

—If I stared long enough then squeezed my eyes, I could envision myself living the world through a new set of eyes. Perhaps, many would call it a knack for concentration or too great of a dependency on imagination, but I called it a superpower.

 

“Xixi!” my mother called out. My dazed eyes began focusing past the frozen raindrops to the glowing ZELLERS. Excitement was an understatement, because shopping was such a rare occurrence. Grabbing onto my mother’s hand, we walked through the parking lot.

“Excuse me, would you be able to spare some change,” a gentle yet desperate voice cut through the humdrum of the rain.

 I looked back then blinked once. Twice. Nothing. I couldn’t see anything from the man’s eyes! The thin man had now stood up from his crouched position and held onto the parking column for support. My mother tugged on my raincoat gently, but I couldn’t move.

“There s’a McDonalds,” my father emphasized pointing diagonally in front of the man’s view as he rummaged for a couple loonies and toonies. The transaction was quick and soon the money was graciously accepted.

“Thank you sir, thank you,” the man looked at me briefly but I saw it: a beautiful shine in his eyes reflecting belief in another day. Closing my eyes, I felt Happiness bloom in both the stranger and I.

 

But it quickly dissipated into disappointment in the store when I saw the hundreds Hello Kitty umbrellas. I saw the no before it rolled off my father’s tongue.

“We can afford it just this once, it’s almost her birthday!” my mother sighed.

 

That day, I didn’t get what I had wanted, but I received something much better. Within the smell of rain and its weighty dampness is my first memory of love and the sweet aftertaste, a constant reminder of the everlasting impact compassion has. As the years go by, the importance of that rainy morning only grows stronger and has become an extension of who I am.

 

Now, I won’t be able to remember what the man looked like, but I will never forget the feelings that came in the fleeting moment when I caught his quavering yet strong eyes. It seemed as if our paths were meant to cross. The unusual encounter made me feel a normalcy that I could not comprehend, but my father catalyzed the start of my understanding through his actions. Even if he couldn’t set enough food on the table each night, he never hesitated to help those around him. By leaving fragments of hope, he taught me that in everything I do it is important to unlock potential in others.

 

While fulfilling my innate thirst through volunteering and expressing myself through the arts, I would have never known if it wasn’t for the rain’s constant reminders that it was actually a longing to become one with the words inscribed in people’s hearts. The rain opened my heart to a natural tendency of living through empathizing with others and allowed my superpower to collide with my passion for helping others—

 

We stand drenched in Arturo’s wilted fields as the rain pours over the building site. I see helplessness washing away from Arturo’s eyes, and in it’s place, a strong flickering hope that there will be a harvest next year. Making eye contact with this phenomenal man who has helped me build the El Trapichean school that will be the foundation of hope for the next generations, I say, “Perfecto,” and he can only laugh, “Perfecto,” as we look up into the sky together.

Movember

In light of mid November I wanted to share my essay on men’s health as my grandfather passed away last year from cancer. It definitely isn’t easy living with cancer and for those who know those who suffer from this terrible disease or fighting it, I am praying for you. You are strong and I hope this essay can shed some light on more of what I want to do and my experiences!

I can’t exactly describe it.  When I actually comprehended that things wouldn’t be the same. It was just like that moment back on my mom’s car when my dazed eyes quickly zoned in on the colourful headlights hidden among the fuzzy raindrops. In that fragment of time, what was unclear suddenly revealed itself to me. He died and he wasn’t coming back.

 

Cancer is the epitome of fear. It has always taken until it has nothing left to take. And that was what I hated and still hate about it. At first, it’s invisible and incapable of being felt yet at the same time, it’s invincible with the power to abolish everything and anything in its way.

 

But when I was a child, I was fearless. Simply put, cancer just wasn’t real to me. Instead, it seemed something like that of a fairy tale or a faraway fantasy that didn’t have the ability or need to materialize into my life.  So when it knocked unexpectedly at our doors, I wasn’t in a state of denial, I just didn’t believe in its existence. All I knew was that my grandparents were leaving for treatment back in our hometown.

 

Pain wasn’t tangible at that time because other then the doctor’s diagnosis, I couldn’t see any difference in my still fence climbing and fast running grandpa. So I still went about life with an innocent indifference that things were okay and would be okay. In hindsight, I really do wish with all my life that I could rewind those times because when time flies, it flies fast.

 

For the past decade of my life my grandfather lived and then eventually passed away from cancer. A cancer that at first was dormant and then quickly made itself known within the past few years when I saw his flesh unbelievably cave into his bones. From one hundred seventy pounds to one hundred ten pounds and then to just under one hundred when he passed away last year. How drastic is the exponential change of one’s body after such a long period of total normality! It’s truly disgusting to have to see the forced okays of a loved one trying to mask this incomprehensible pain that at the same time is being experienced by millions worldwide.  You see, after a few years of experiencing cancer within my family, I started opening my eyes and I literally began to feel just how many people were living or lived with cancer. I felt it in the hugs I gave to my friend who had lost her aunt to breast cancer or through the tear soaked shirt my church friend cried through when she lost her mother, or in the vibrations of shrieks I felt the nights I stayed at the hospital beside a too young girl going through treatment.  All these things over the years have amalgamated into a sorrow that stains my heart because it is a constant reminder that while I live there are those succumbing to an unwelcomed fate and have lost opportunities to chase their dreams.

 

I have always loved helping people either through service or small things, but a part of me has always yearned to work towards something bigger. I don’t know the exact details of what I want to do, but I know I want to do something. Something that will help eradicate this terrible disease, something that will alleviate the suffering of millions of people, something that will create a legacy in hearts emphasizing the possibility in the impossible. It is always possible and I truly believe that.

Testing the Limits

These past few days were spent at the hospital and reflecting back I know that I ignored the warnings my body gave me. You see this past week was the busiest week of my life or so I had thought until I had another lung collapse. On Friday night, I was exhausted from sleeping 5hrs the past week due to university application deadlines, a chem midterm, a calc unit test, and spirit week for Student Council. I kept thinking if the other kids in my class could sleep around 3-4hrs a night, why couldn’t I? Personally I knew I needed my sleep to function but with so many things to do and so little time, the only I could get everything done was to cut back on sleep. I was so caught up with getting everything done and the ultimate goal that in reality I lost so much more than that. I again had to go through so much pain and suffering to learn that this will be the last time that I put myself second. I put so many things first but in the end no one really acknowledges me for what I’ve done, and in the end it’s me who gets the short end of the stick. I should have seen it coming, I mean the signs were so obvious! I was like wow look at me go, leading seven ECs, taking three university courses in high school, and applying early for university in the states? Heck I was on a roll. But life easily puts you into perspective. And just like a rubber band, I kept stretching my limits until my life couldn’t hold any longer and then it broke.

The point of this blog post, is that I used to think that if others could do something, why couldn’t I? I mean we are all humans.. But I finally realized that it’s okay if I try really hard that I won’t achieve the same things as others, and I just need to accept that, I have different limits and I need to respect that. Don’t be like me, I had to learn it the hard way. After three spontaneous lung collapses, the doctors and I still don’t know what happened, but all I know is that every time it happened, I was pushed to my maximum point. Know your limit is, test them but once you see the signs and you know you’re body can’t go on, stop pushing yourself to get somewhere you don’t have to be. I was exhausted last week, and I kept falling asleep during lectures or yawning then bumping my head to the table when writing homework. In hindsight, I should have stopped. But in hindsight we always see what we did wrong, so don’t wait for hindsight, wait for the now.

Push yourself if you know you aren’t hurting yourself. Now I officially know my limits and learned my lessons, I won’t make the same mistake again *hopefully*.

Prioritize your life and that means putting health first! I eat healthy and exercise but this past week I started chopping away at my sleeping time and that’s when I started to get stressed out. Stress is a nono, once you feel the signs, stop, and relax!

To give up or not to?

I used to live life as a competition. If so and so could do this then I can do it as well. They were human and I was human, so that means I had the potential and capabilities to achieve what they could achieve, right?

I’ve learned that sometimes no matter how hard one tries, they won’t be able to achieve the level of someone they might be competing against. I’ve also come to realize, that yes maybe there is a point of all the sacrifice that I might come to equal someone else but is it worth all the sacrifice? I’ve been sacrificing my time, to do so many things, just to prove to myself that I’m worthy. But what I have been doing is not bettering myself, even though I have learned a lot of new skills, I’ve just spent time doing the things I don’t love to do.

Now when a new opportunity comes whatever it may be, I ask myself, is this really what I want to do, or is it just to prove to myself that I can do it? I have no doubt you can achieve what you are about to achieve, but please don’t hand over all your energy to prove something. It’s not a waste, but you could have spent that time bettering yourself in areas you want to better yourself in.

I’m a person who doesn’t give up once I’ve committed myself to something. That is both good and bad. I have now seen the other side of the coin. We are often told to look at how far we have gone and to grasp the reason for why we have held on so long. That’s what keeps us going. But my advice, life is really short. Please preserve to the things that really matter to you. Is this new passion of yours, what you really want for yourself? Sometimes life turns out differently for other people and I can’t say for everyone, but hold on to the things that matter. Don’t force yourself to keep doing something that you hate but want to persevere just for the sake of your commitment. You could have been spending that time doing and bettering yourself in things you are good at and love as well.

In the end, it all comes down to this, what does your heart say?

If you’re pulling through for a bad reason, chances are when you’re done achieving what you’re achieving it wouldn’t have been as good as something you were actually passionate about.

A trip to remember…

It would mean the world to me if you would be willing to support my trip by donating!

You can follow the link here: http://www.gofundme.com/j9la2s

Society and my community have given me so much. From the hospital care I received when I had surgeries to the random acts of kindness strangers gave me. I have received a lot and all the things that have unlocked my potential in becoming the person I am today has provided me insight on giving back.

Everyone’s goal in life is different, and personally mine has always been to be the best person that I can be. The best person is a selfless person. A person who put’s others needs before theirs, and bursts with compassion. That is someone I strive to be, someone I work hard to become because it is the least I can do for a community that has given me so much. I give my time because theres nothing greater when I see the smiles of the children or elders I volunteer for.

When you put love into helping others, and you place yourself in their shoes, you feel like you’re floating. When you help someone for nothing in return but just from the goodness of your heart, there is no treasurer greater than from giving the gift of letting others be on top of their world. Helping others is always going to be fundamental in my life because it was the foundation of how my life unravelled. It was the basis of how I was brought up, that you don’t look at others for what they can give you, but what you can give them.

Going on a trip to Nicaragua has been a dream of mine since Day 1 when I made a commitment on bringing a positive change to our world. Ever since two years ago, I realized the importance of education after learning that many children especially girls were missing out on education. I began to actively fundraise for Education in Nicaragua through Free the Children. This trip will be able to actively immerse my passion for helping others and my drive of wanting to unlock other’s potentials by inspiring them through their capabilities of creating a difference.

5 Things I know too well about cancer

I like writing 10 things… so I’m going to write another blog post in that format except with only five. Yesterday was September 14th, 2014 and also the day of my neighbourhood’s annual Terry Fox Run. You see because Terry Fox ran for me in 1980, I also want his legacy to last, so I ran for my grandpa. During the times that my lungs were dying and I literally couldn’t breathe, I remembered the time I was in the hospital after my lungs collapsed and I was trying so hard to fight to live. I remember it all too clear, but what made me pound my chest right where the sticker of who I was running for, I remembered my grandpa who passed away. He had stomach cancer for 7 years! I can’t believe it. I still remember when I was almost 8 years old, when he had to leave Canada to go and have surgery. And right now, sometimes I dread his loss. He must have gone through so much more than what I went through in the hospital. So when I couldn’t breathe, I pounded my chest where I got surgery and pushed on. I wasn’t doing this for me, I had to keep going on because it was for him.

5. It sucks. That’s all I really need to say. As the years add on, I can’t believe the number of people I know that are affected by cancer quickly increase. It’s depressing, and most of all it sucks.

4. It’s unfair. Like what the heck is going on? She was all fine and then boom you hit again. You can’t just disappear in someone’s life and come back without any announcement whatsoever. It isn’t fair, how someone so kind like you, who’s lived such a crappy life deserves something so much better, but somehow you fell into the fate of cancer.

3. It hurts. I heard firsthand of what my grandpa had to go through. I went through something like it but honestly I was only in the hospital for a month and I recovered. But for so many people they stay and never come out. They might never get to eat the things they like as the case for my grandpa, or they may never get to walk, or they might not be able to move. All these things hurt. They hurt not only physically, but emotionally. I don’t know what’s worse emotional or physical pain, they’re both terrible things when mixed together in a concoction together.

2. It affects. It affects the victim, it affects the family, the friends, the community. It affects in a bad way it really does, but sometimes it may just create a lasting legacy for others to look up to you as a role model for the strength that radiates off cancer survivors and non- survivors as well.

1. It takes. It takes the aura of that person you love. It takes and takes and leaves almost nothing behind. It takes my heart, it really does, because when the person you love dies, cancer was the one who took them away. It doesn’t stop taking, and it’s so hard to get over the loss. One day they were there, and when the years pass by, you can’t believe how you were able to live on without them.

The Heart of Giving

I grew up as a normal kid in a low income family. Living in a cramped up apartment, where both parents were redoing university in Canada and trying to build a better life for our family. Many sacrifices were made, and my parents had to leave behind the life of luxury and from having things done for them, to now finding out how to survive in this foreign land called Canada. I called myself normal, because as a small child, I had my distant dreams of meeting Cinderella or flying on a red carpet. But I did not have the depth of understanding of what the real world was like and how much difficulties my parent’s really went through to achieve a life that we now have.

I had heard now from my mother as she recalls those first difficult years in a new life. How she and my father worked labor jobs well into the night all the while trying to obtain their master degrees and taking care of me. Living in a beaten down apartment, where everyone lived in a one small room, I was happy. I had my building blocks and that was it. As a child, I never knew my parents didn’t eat sometimes, I just had thought they weren’t hungry. We were still happy. Not because we didn’t let the lack of money affect us, but because of the people around us who were willing to help. A family friend gave us their car that they did not use anymore, and others donated clothing and shoes for my family as well. We understood that money could bring happiness much later in life, but during that time, I think those moments were the most joy filled moments of my life.

I think one of the greatest life lessons I learned was when I had so little. Life taught me to be humble, and take nothing for granted. I still remember a foggy day that is embed into the back of my memory. It was a few days before a birthday of mine and I believe I was five year old. Walking hand in hand with my mom and dad along the underground parking lot of Zellers, we came upon a man. This man wasn’t any different than me, I thought. He was an ordinary man. I could not differentiate between people, because judgement was not part of my visual process. The man that I now recall from my memory was obviously very worn down, and fragile. At that time, the man didn’t explicitly ask my father for money, but as I watched my dad walk ahead of me closer to the man, he gave him some coins. After that quick exchange, we began to close in on the opening doors of the store, and right in front of me, was the birthday gift, I would totally die for. A big cardboard box full of Hello Kitty umbrellas were beckoning me to take on home.

“Mommy, can I have one?” I looked up to her, as my mom and I approached the big box.

“Hmm you’ll have to ask your father,” she pursed her lips and gave me a slight smile.

As my father came closer to me, I had asked him, and I could tell there was hesitation. Feeling disappointed, I walked back to the big box of umbrellas and stood there, lightly touching the Hello Kitty figure attached to the handles. I could here my mother arguing with my father that it was my birthday, and all I wanted was an umbrella. I also heard that my dad thought the umbrellas were really expensive. As my mom began arguing with my father, she mentioned the fact how he gave money to strangers but was not willing to buy a birthday present for his own child.

Reflecting on many of these similar actions my dad did for many strangers, I began to realize the fact that during the times when we had so little we gave the most because we knew what it was like to be in the same place. Our family still gives time and money, and donates things, but we are more distant and understand less of what others go through.

It is now a decade later, and I have a little sister. Many things were bought for her, and the newer Hello Kitty umbrella also landed in my sister’s hands without much thought from both of my parents. As we became a middle income family, we still weren’t as rich as many of our friend counterparts, but we now had more food and some luxury items. Since my sister was born in a different income level than I was, she hasn’t learned the importance of giving yet. For me, even though I know if my family squeezed tight earnings, they would be able to buy me a new iPad that I needed for a school course. However, I took that upon myself to not waste money that I knew both my parents who were workaholics took a lot of time to earn. I entered many writing contests and contests where there were prizes that included scholarship money. Through many of the contests, I was able to secure spots that gave me money or even prizes like an iPad and Kobo. Even though we have money, I try not to waste my parent’s money. I make sure that everything I receive is earned through my own abilities. And this has taught me to be humble, and to have a compassionate heart. It has allowed me to feel what it’s like to actually earn things that you deserve instead of having them given to you. Furthermore, it has allowed me to develop an aching soul that loves to help others~