What's Your Story

I moved to Canada when I was 8. Ten years later, I'm seizing every opportunity I can

A chance encounter with a parking officer helped shape Manu Goswami's view of Canada — and everything that's possible here.

'In Canada, we believe that succeeding by helping others succeed is not only a strategy but a responsibility.'

Swarochish 'Manu' Goswami (Swarochish Goswami)

When Swarochish "Manu" Goswami and his family were new in Canada, a chance encounter with a parking officer shaped his view of the country. An outstretched hand has been a symbol for what's possible ever since.

Throughout 2017, we're asking Canadians, "What's your story?" Goswami of Toronto, shares his:

I was born April 14, 1997 in Singapore. Growing up in a competitive environment like Singapore kept me mainly indoors studying in my early years. I was hardly exposed to the natural world until I was eight and my father got a posting in a strange town called Calgary, Alberta. I distinctly remember opening a big blue atlas and learning about Canada. I was shocked. Wow, the second largest country in the world. The Rocky Mountains. The beaver. All of these elements I was told made up of Canada and got me extremely excited to move.

Goswami with his mother Priya and brother Veenu, in Goa, India, 2002. (Swarochish Goswami)

When I came to the country, I was immediately exposed to a new, outdoor world. The country had seasonal cycles I had heard, but it was nothing I imagined. Calgary could experience rain, sun, hail and snow all in one day and people would continue walking around like everything was normal. When I first arrived, I went to a school called Langevin Science School. The school's way of teaching was hands-on and fit me so well.

I'm thankful that in this country, a young person can voice their opinion and be heard. -  Manu Goswami

Along with that, my mother and I were still getting accustomed to the rules in the country — especially the parking laws. I remember once we parked for too long in a downtown area while waiting for my brother's bus to come drop him off, and when we went back to the car my mother told the officer giving us a ticket that we didn't know and we had just moved here. The officer instead of ticketing is, smiled and gave out a hand saying welcome to this country.

Manu Goswami is a 19-year-old sophomore from Torontostudying Peace, Conflict, Justice Studies and Ethics, Society and Law at the University of Toronto. (Swarochish Goswami)

I don't know why but I can never forget that gesture as it represents what Canada has done for me.

Every day the country puts out a hand and invites me to seize every opportunity I so desire. That's what I love about this country — its people are kind (stereotypically known to apologize too much), but there's a reason for that: in Canada, we believe that succeeding by helping others succeed is not only a strategy but a responsibility.

Today, despite the fact I have a speech impediment, am an immigrant and was a kid asking to be at the adults table, I am a 19-year-old sophomore studying at the University of Toronto. Beyond that, I am a serial entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, UN Youth Ambassador, venture capitalist and LinkedIn Youth Editor.

Do I think I could have done all that if I wasn't in a place like Canada? Most definitely not.

Canada does not exactly have a Silicon Valley, but we have more than a culture of innovation, we have a culture of inclusion. That is what makes this country special and what helped me during the earliest years of my journey. I'm thankful that in this country, a young person can voice their opinion and be heard through various channels established by the private sector and government. I'm glad that this country and its people share my opinion that young people are the leaders of tomorrow, but they do not need to wait until tomorrow to lead.

What's your story?
What defines Canada for you? Is there a time that you were proud to be Canadian, or perhaps a time you felt disappointed? Is there a place, person, or event in your life that sums up what being Canadian is to you? Tell us at cbc.ca/whatsyourstory.


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