John Chua, Manager, Marketing and Community Development, Western Union
When John Chua and his family came to Canada from the Philippines in 2001, they left behind a comfortable life and thought life would be even better here. When things didn’t turn out as expected at first, John, his parents and brother, didn’t give up. Instead, they worked harder than they ever thought they could, to make the life they wanted in their new country.
Western Union: What kind of obstacles did you and your family face in the first few years in Canada?
John Chua: The job market was very tough for my parents because we came during the year of the unfortunate events of 9/11 and they couldn’t find jobs in their fields. They had to settle for entry-level jobs in a different field to support the family. We had to relocate to a low-income neighbourhood, where break-ins were very common. I witnessed my parents try to make ends meet each month and do the best they could to support my brother and I.
WU: How did you overcome these challenges?
JC: Although my parents never showed us how hard it was for them, I noticed their struggles and so I worked full-time at a retail store at night, while studying as a full-time student during the day. During those times, I walked through freezing temperatures and even during snow storms, to and from work, rather than take the bus so I could save more. I also remember buying our first entry-level, bulky TV that I saw on sale at a discount retailer. Taking a cab was too expensive, so I pushed the cart home and went back to the store to return the cart. And sleeping for more than 5 hours each night was a very rare luxury until I graduated from Sheridan College.
WU: When you look back at those early years, what are you most proud of?
JC: I set goals and promised myself that I would get established and make sure my future children would not go through the same struggles. Today, 15 years later in Canada, I can say that life is now much better.
WU: What advice would you give to fellow immigrants just starting out in Canada?
JC: I understand that many immigrants have to go through the same adjustments I did, if not worse – especially my fellow Filipinos, our customers, who support themselves and their loved ones back home at the same time.
I want them to know that things will get better in time and that dedication and hard work can take them there. I’ve been in their shoes and life will get better. And Western Union is here to support them along the way until they reach their goals.
For many new immigrants, the first weeks and months in Canada can be full of new challenges. Knowing there are other people facing the same problems can help – especially when they share their knowledge and experience. To learn more about the immigration experiences of other Western Union Canada interns and employees, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.