Country of Origin:
Asian Heritage, Racism/Discrimination, Multiculturalism & Diversity, Adjusting to Life in Canada
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Nagina's journey to Canada began in 1995. Nagina has a Doctorate in Microbiology, certification in Clinical Research and Health Informatics. Currently, she is working as a Clinical Researcher at University Health Network and Lecturer at Ryerson University.
In 2018, Nagina was Dean's excellence teaching award recipient from Ryerson University. In 2011, Nagina was recognized as Champion of the New Immigrant Support Network at the Hospital for Sick Children. Nagina is the Chapter President of Spelling Bee of Canada for Richmond Hill/Thornhill and was recently invited to be the President of Spelling Bee of Canada. Nagina has been actively involved as a judge at high school-level science fairs in Toronto and York Region since 2000. Nagina has also been involved in counselling and guidance of new immigrants for job prospects and further education.
My life in Canada began in the winter of 1995. I was seeing the snow for the very first time. I was fascinated by all the bare trees covered with the white snow and felt like I needed to touch it. It felt so soft. Challenges to adjust to this new country with different culture began the same day. I prepared myself for a long time but did not know what it was going to be like, but I was ready.
It felt awkward when I wore a winter coat for the first time I thought, “How I am going to walk in this heavy thing?” But I was perfectly fine. My first job in Canada was working for one of the professors at the University of Guelph. He was impressed with my research from India. I felt pleased, but I was missing my family a lot, especially my dad. I sometimes wished I was a bird and could quickly fly to them and back. But that never happens.
There were challenges at work. I had never used a computer in my life. But I was open to learning and learned the basics by doing training and with others support. Moving to Toronto was another exciting chapter of my life. I never thought that I would take the trip down to Toronto ever by myself. That was the first time I took the bus to Toronto. When I came to the bus station, I had no idea where to go. I had to ask the people where the University of Toronto was. But I made it. I worked there for four years. Experiences in various organizations had given me exposure to the Canadian workplace, people, and culture. I never stopped looking and learning and kept accepting new roles, responsibilities and challenges. At times, It was quite challenging for me, but again my heart kept telling me to keep going, learning and smiling.
I also learned how to drive. It was quite scary at first by looking at the cars on the highway going fast. I had a hard time parking in the parallel park which I learned to do with practice.
So many people have helped me during this time. I have published various articles related to my research and has given various career presentations at the University of Toronto. Whenever I meet someone who has immigrated and is having issues with the new culture and environment, I never hesitate to connect with them by sharing my story. The circle of help and support should never be broken, and it should be kept moving. Canada has given me lots during the last 18 years, and I never hesitate to give it back whenever the opportunity arises.