Article By: Shirley Sio
I was born in Macau, a small Chinese territory and a fusion of East and West lifestyles, food, and architecture. Like many other families from Hong Kong and Macau in the late ‘90s (1997-1999), my family decided to emigrate to Vancouver, Canada, through one of the country’s Provincial Nominee Programs.
To a seven-year-old little girl, Canada was intimidating; I felt especially apprehensive because of the language barrier. However, Vancouver has always been known as “The Best City” to study, and I settled in quickly at Trafalgar for elementary school and, in less than a year, I was able to speak English fully. Apart from engaging in the usual school activities involving arts, music, and exercise, I also attended Girl Guides after school hours, where I developed new skills and confidence, from canoeing trips and camping.
Growing up with the multicultural environment in Vancouver has had a positive impact on my life, and shaped me to have an open-minded understanding of the world. Having also become bilingual during my time here has boosted me up in social circles, where it has lead me to find better job opportunities and make social connections across the globe. Indeed, during my time in high school at Prince of Wales, I remember that there were companies looking for students to participate in a co-op summer placement job program, and I was selected by a Chinese Film Company as a producer assistant. From that experience, I was able to establish connections in Beijing, China. Later on, after graduation from Simon Fraser University, I moved to Shanghai, China, and was able to work for 12 years in one of the top-listed companies in marketing and project management.
Due to my mother’s health issues, I decided to make a plan to move back to Canada. Although my work experience in China was well-recognized, I knew that lacking professional references in Canada would seriously hurt my career prospects. Therefore, I decided that upgrading my education would have to take priority before moving back home.
In 2016, I was accepted on a full scholarship from the Chinese Government Scholarship IMBA Program. Only 30 scholarships are given each semester, but my experiences in Canada helped me yet again; the interviewers for the scholarship were mentors from all over the world, and I was selected based on the well-rounded education that I had received in Canada, through my learning and understanding of multiculturalism in communication, and the work and life experiences I gained throughout my life.
In the end, my fear of hurting my career prospects was unfounded and unnecessary. In recent years, Canada has been continuously developing a strong economy, with a wide range of industries and opportunities. For example, tech companies like Element AI, Buddybuild, and Finn.ai have grown, as have gaming companies such as Hinterland Games, Klei Entertainment, and Kabam. Now, I am working in a well-respected global investment management company in downtown Vancouver as a Director of Marketing and Sales Operation. I am really thankful that I grew up in Canada, which has given me a variety of opportunities, and helped me build connections throughout my life. I hope that by sharing this story, I will be able to inspire the readers to choose and build a better life path for themselves.
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