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No more fear

Volunteering in Kenya (as a teacher with Canadian Crossroads International) opened up my world; it introduced me to experiences I would otherwise never have had. 

My days outside of teaching were totally encompassed with learning how to cook without electricity, and learning how to bathe, brush teeth, wash clothes and dishes with only a small jug of water a day. As I wrote weepy letters to my family back home by kerosene lantern, what was important to me became more Maslowian - is that a word? – obtaining food, having adequate shelter, good health, and caring relationships.

More impactful, perhaps, was seeing myself in the mirror and knowing that I had done this journey - I had travelled across the world from my home, my family, my familiar surroundings at 22 years old. I had stared down fear and loneliness and darkness those of which I had never known, and yet here I was, eventually deftly navigating the crowds and their reaching hands in Nairobi; boarding a matutu and hurtling down the highway at breakneck speeds; tasting roasted goat meat dipped in salty piles with strangers-become-friends. What else might be possible!

My new insights and courage solidified my interest in a career in social work, which was to embrace a philosophy that believes in social justice and righting inequalities. I am a braver, stronger, wiser person than I would have ever thought possible. I know what fear tastes like, smells like, and feels like, but I also know how to feel that fear and do it anyway.

Amber Hitchen
Vancouver BC, Canada, 28 August 2018

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I found myself in Canada

I think the best thing you can give somebody is love. I moved to Canada 11 years ago to look for my true love - a husband, to start a family with as full of love as the one I had growing up. However, for a gay man like me, this was a difficult goal to achieve in China.

I grew up in a big family. The world outside of our little village is huge, and the only way to leave it was by going to a university. My father wanted me to be a doctor like himself, but I was more interested in technical studies. I studied international business in a second level university, did my masters in one of the top 5 universities in China and became succesful.

After coming to Canada, with luck, I met Normand on an online dating site. We started dating, and our relationship turned into love soon enough. We got married four years ago. Now we are even closer to having that loving family I have always wanted to build. We are arranging for a surrogate mother who will carry two babies for us, one with Normand's genes and one with mine. We are eagerly waiting to raise them with unconditional love.

I frequently visit China, as I love to visit my family, to whom I owe a lot. But after a while, I get tired of people constantly pressuring me for material success: "How much money are you making?", "What type of car are you driving?", "How many houses do you own?"

Canada is where I can be myself. A place where I am valued not for my money or my station, but for who I am.

Martin Ding
Vancouver BC, Canada, 17 August 2018

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