Scholarship boosts education hopes of new Canadians

The Royal Bank of Canada recently awarded 12 students from across the country with their second annual scholarship for new Canadians.

The students, the majority now in their first year of post-secondary education, were each awarded $2,000 to go towards their education.

Jenny Duong, 18, represented Toronto at the award ceremony and has lived in the city since her family immigrated to Canada 16 years ago.

Duong’s family – originally from Vietnam – came to Canada from Hong Kong where they lived in a refugee camp.

Though she does not remember much about the immigration process, Duong’s parents share stories of what it was like arriving in Canada.

“My parents tell me a story of the first time that it snowed here, I went outside and started crying,” Duong said. “I had never seen snow before and I had no idea what it was so I was scared.”

Duong, who learned about the scholarship through, talked about what it was like to meet the other award recipients from as far away as British Columbia.

“It was a really good experience to meet everyone,” she said. “All of their stories were quite interesting.”

Duong reflected on how lucky she has it in Canada and to be living in Toronto.

“It is amazing living in a country like Canada,” she said. “And growing up in Toronto, you get to experience the whole world. You can experience all kinds of different cultures – which includes all the different foods!”

Currently in her first semester at the University of Toronto, she plans on studying history and English from which she would like to go on to become a teacher. She also would like to pursue a career in journalism.

For the application of the scholarship, Duong had to write three short essays and one of the topics she wrote about discussed advice for new Canadians.

“First of all, you have to get past the language barrier,” she said. “Then you have to find a community where you can really relate to it and the people in the city.  Finally, you have to get out there and really enjoy the culture and take part in the society.”

Duong has fully entrenched herself in the Canadian culture while not forgetting her heritage. She is fluent in English and Vietnamese and is currently learning French with aspirations of more languages in the future.

She sets an example that others could follow to help themselves grow comfortable in a foreign country.