top of page
Five lotus petals with neurodiversity colours.jpg

Su's Favourite Quote

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - Nelson Mandela

Malaysia: A push to leave for Canada

When I was three years old, my family moved from Myanmar (Burma) to Malaysia. We left Burma because it had become difficult to live under military rule. There were very few work opportunities and the medical system was failing. Most people who could leave left during the same time that my parents made the decision to move. Moving to a new country meant starting all over again and it was tough for my family. We all encountered discrimination in various forms – from religious prejudice to racial trauma.


I've always felt like I was navigating a world that wasn't quite made for me. Growing up in a country with deep racial and religious divisions, there was often a sense of being "othered" if you didn't belong to the dominant groups. Malaysia, with its vibrant and diverse cultural landscape, was a stark contrast to Burma, but it still carried undertones of rejection towards immigrants. The focus was on maintaining harmony and practicing tolerance, rather than embracing racial or cultural diversity. 


As an immigrant, I faced significant religious discrimination and subtle bullying. For instance, people would avoid touching objects I had touched or sitting next to me in class. These experiences, accumulated over nearly two decades, left me feeling deeply hurt and apprehensive.

I yearned for a world where I could belong, and where diversity was celebrated. Since I was in an English school learning the language and mastering the demands of a British curriculum, I found hope in the books I read and the videos I watched. These mediums conveyed ideas of democracy and freedom of speech, making me feel like I could finally be part of a cultural mosaic where I'd be treated equally and given opportunities to grow. I longed for a more equitable and inclusive society. Upon reflection, I was unaware that what I truly needed was to be given an opportunity to thrive.

Canada: "Should I stay or should I go?" (Credit and inspiration: The Clash)

When I moved to Canada at the age of 19 to pursue an undergraduate degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland, I was shocked by how different the experience of living in a western country was in comparison to how the books and media has portrayed it.


My first job as an undergraduate student was to teach English to students whose whose command of the Englsih language was not at the level I realized that I was sold on concepts such as freedom of choice, democracy and tolerance. It made me hope for a society that welcomed immigrants, did not tolerate discrimination and celebrated cultural diversity. What I found instead, was a place that had values dissimilar to mine and certainly not practicing what was written in the books. Looking back, I realized that moral and ethical ideals could not possibly be upheld by every member of a given society and that 


My own lived experience was also disappointing as it was the first time I could not only sense that I was different, but that everyone (including myself) could see that I was visibly different. It dawned on me that the term visible minority was no longer just a term I read about in my textbooks. It had fast become my everyday reality. After several years, I concluded that fitting in was going to be an almost impossible task as I simply looked different. 


Over the years, found a sense of belonging in workplaces that valued my inherent skills in using empathy and compassion to foster safe spaces.I felt appreciated by my clients and that my efforts made a noticeable difference in their lives. My work included populations such as those with disabilities, indigenous folks, caring for the elderly, safeguarding youth in group homes, teaching English to other immigrants and helping men get checked-in at shelters.


Throughout my Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology degree program (based out of Fredericton, New Brunswick), I learned that my feelings of being othered had amplified over the course of many years resulting from living in a state of conflict. My conflict was whether to stay in Canada and keep striving to find my place in society or to call it quits and go back to Malaysia, where my parents still lived. 

The decision was promptly made for me as the pandemic happened. I was forced to stay and it tested my ability to truly adapt and navigate not only my life, but the world. I am grateful to have made that decisions and am honoured to serve others and call Canada home for now as part of my own journey of life.

bottom of page