No matter you are studying or working away from home, sometimes homesickness creeps up and loneliness has you sink into depression. And as you experience different emotional states, you figure out your deepest desire within every breath you take. Moving to a new place, I assume the upcoming journey is the search of joy, of the glow of small or great triumph. But at the end of the day, like other human beings, I do crave a sense of belonging.
Some nights I kept staring at the ceiling asking myself if I should reduce or even get rid of my associations with my heritage culture to blend into a new society. It kept lingering in my mind until I bumped into a Canadian woman, the conversation with her was an epiphany for me when she said: “Thank you for being here and bringing your culture with you, your existence makes a difference for our community.”
Her kindness reminded me that sometimes self-critical thinking and bias keep us from truly experiencing happiness. And I am reminded of how I have chosen to live: to keep both my mind and my heart open to this new place that I will someday call home. Instead of seeking acceptance, I stepped outside my comfort zone and got involved in social activities, including volunteering for the Salvation Army this past Christmas.
Standing beside the Christmas Kettle to collect donations for those in need, I had a beautiful time connecting with people and witnessing their generosity even in the hardest times. I met people who were in awe of my home country, who hugged me, and expressed gratitude for my volunteering. I busted into tears when a lady asked my name then closed her eyes and prayed for me. It was such an uplifting experience which reminded me, everybody needs kindness.
For the first time, I recognized that community is not just about the people who speak my language, or the heritage culture embodied within myself. It is far more beyond my limitation. For a moment in life, Canada taught me that community means kindness.