It was a youth event celebrating community arts and diversity. There was a photography exhibition themed “Resiliency Through Immigration.”
These photos represented the quality of resiliency required in immigrant families necessary for transitioning to life in Canada. There were photographs of grandparents and parents. Stories of struggle and difficult decisions and eventually, stories of grounding in a new place to call home.
I deeply resonated with the theme of resiliency in relation to immigration. The photos and stories reminded me of my parents’ story and my own as I now navigate immigrating to a new country.
It is a story of resilience. My story may differ from my grandparents’ decision to immigrate to Canada during a volatile period in Philippine history. But I have discovered similarities.
Making the decision to immigrate, to leave your family and everything familiar, means that you believe that the new country can offer opportunities that your home country cannot. Transitioning to a new culture, a new language, and a new home is not for the faint of heart. For the first time in my life, I know what my grandparents and my parents felt.
My mom talked to the kids how difficult those years were when she came to Canada at 12 years old without knowing much English, trying to comfort them as they had struggled with Spanish and making friends.
Stories of migration are as old as our species. We moved and adapted before we made drew invisible lines in the sand. We moved because the environment changed and the population grew. We settled almost all over the world in a short span of time because our species developed collective learning and the capacity for symbolic language, therefore adapting to diverse conditions. We needed to move to survive otherwise we wouldn’t have traversed large distances.
Immigrating is a movement of hope and not the kind of hope when you wait for something to change or someone else to change things. It’s the type of optimism that motivates adaptation despite the rough and uncertain conditions because we hope for something different for ourselves and our families and are willing to try to make that happen.
This is our legacy of being human – being optimistic to build resilience.
Resilience = Optimism + Grit
Resilience can’t be achieved without facing challenges that make you uncomfortable and courageously rising up after failures.
Take 15 minutes to reflect on RESILIENCE.
- Write about an experience in your life that made you resilient.
- Copy the poem below or another quote on resilience.
- Draw/paint what resilience means to you.
by Jane Hirshfield
“More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam
returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous
tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,
mitochondria, figs — all this resinous, unretractable earth.”\