“My name is Nimaya De Silva, and I am a fourth-year student in the Biomedical Sciences program at the University of Calgary. I am a first-generation immigrant to Canada, having been born in Sri Lanka. Our family moved to Canada back in 2007 (on Canada day funnily enough!), and I have to say I am forever grateful for my parents in making that decision of making a new home here in Canada. Having only been seven when coming here, I remember the culture shock I felt when faced with a whole new environment, customs and lifestyle. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for my parents in moving away from the rest of their family, home, and cultural roots with nobody here in Canada for support. Appreciating the sacrifices my parents made for myself and my siblings to have this life in Canada, I approach each day thankful of the various opportunities available to me, and striving to make the best of every challenge and hurdle that comes my way.
The Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth (CBFY) is special to me because in my first year of school in Canada, I was actually one of the students taking part in one of their Afterschool Program. I can distinctly remember the fun I had making friends with the other students in my year while working on different activities within the CBFY program–and actually feeling like I belonged somewhere. Our family ended up moving to Lethbridge for the rest of my school years. However, upon moving back to Calgary to pursue my undergraduate degree, I was keen to get involved in CBFY as a volunteer to give back to the community and the organization which had given me so much when I had been a child. As a previous volunteer on the One on One Tutoring Program, and a current volunteer in the NxtGen Homework Club, I appreciate the opportunity I have to not only impact students’ academic pursuits, but also the chance to support students with their future aspirations in attending post-secondary. Opening up about my own struggles and experiences as an immigrant youth has helped me to connect with students on a deeper level, allowing me to use my first-hand knowledge to better ease their transition to a new school system and lifestyle. Volunteering with CBFY is truly something I look forward to each week–hearing the triumphs and struggles of these resilient youth as they adapt to their new circumstances inspires me to continue supporting them in their endeavors” Nimaya De Silva.