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When I immigrated to Canada on 13 July 2010, I had two suitcases and a big Balikbayan box (used to send goods home for families who stayed behind). At the immigration desk, I was asked about my show money- a money you guarantee that you have with you at the time of landing that you will survive in the next few days or weeks, or maybe if you have a lot, a few months to stave away destitution.
Where is your show money? To prove you can survive in Canada on a shoe-string budget and still feel happy with your decision to uproot yourself, your career, and your life for no apparent life-threatening reason but to improve your chances of greater success- whatever that is, a house mortgage, better education, fresher air and food, elevated status-The Great Canadian Dream.
Us, immigrants we all had it. The grim determination that we will no matter what it takes, overcome and will get that coveted Canadian passport, identity, language, and social ties under our belts at last. The folks back home will be super proud of what we have done and will say, better in Canada struggling than back home.
As I eased into the new Canadian living, the show money transformed in a different way.
Where is your Canadian experience? It's like saying that you will never make it here as a landed immigrant if you don't have the Canadian experience which is synonymous to "killing the immigrants softly." How exactly will you get the Canadian experience if nobody will take the risk of hiring you? In order to survive, they have to take survival jobs which is like a penance of choosing Canada as their home.
In my last successful job interview, I told them, " I am fresh off the boat and with no Canadian work experience at all yet but I have travelled the world-world-weary and worldly enough to be flexible and adaptable." I got the job! They sure can't believe that I have just arrived and now competing against 500 work applicants in that city. The rest is history.
The next show money question is different. It is all about in their heads, "what are your credentials that will allow us to respect you and believe that you can help?" This one is tough to crack. But, there's always a way around it.
Of all these questions, one thing is for sure, not all will be pleased and will accept who you are and what you're here for in this country, this city, this small town, and neighborhood. There will also be people like that. But as immigrants who discovered a new home, a new identity that could fuse with the old, and new relations on top of the discarded ones, suggest that we can completely write our own stories with ourselves as the main protagonists, despite the odds. I guess, striving to win every time.
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