Archive for March 2014

TED Talks Tuesdays: My Immigration Story

Today’s Ted Talk Tuesday is about the immigration story of Tan Le. Tan Le’s talk grabbed my attention because of her puzzle pieces analogy. She compared each of her family members and her immigration adventures to a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Her story, she said, is not yet finished; it is a one big puzzle that is still being put together.

What captivated me the most from her story was how her mother worked two jobs whilst getting a college degree. I can personally relate to this. Ever since I moved here to Canada with my family, my mother has always protected and nurtured us. During my first few days here, it was like being a child again; I had to rely heavily on my parents. Looking back, I actually think it was a good thing for it strengthened my bond with my parents.

Going back to Tan Le’s story, she shared their journey to Australia where they had to hide in a concealed boat to escape her mother’s cruel life. Her mother brought poison with her, which they were ready to drink in case their boat got caught.  I cannot possibly imagine myself having the same courage that she had—the courage of walking in a thin thread, to be ready to jump off a cliff when the situation begs it.

Tan Le ended her story by revealing the last piece of her puzzle.  As she stabled her life and finished her law degree, she realized that she could not get a career in law. She thought that there had to be another piece. Soon enough, she found it. And that is, the realization that is okay to be an outsider, a recent arrival, new on the scene. She says that it's even “something to be thankful for” because “being an insider can so easily mean collapsing the horizons, can so easily mean accepting the presumptions of your province”. Sometimes, it is better when we are in a strange place. It gives us the chance to grow, be braver and be smarter. 

Favourite quote from the talk: “I have stepped outside my comfort zone enough now to know that, yes, the world does fall apart, but not in the way that you fear.” 

10 Vancouver-Based Instagram Accounts You Should Follow

It cannot be denied that social media has been changing the world in many ways. It has changed our way of communicating, way of learning, and view of the world. According to a recent research, the fastest growing social media platform in the world is Instagram. Because I always see people on transit, at school, and in malls scrolling through their Instagram feed, I have no trouble believing this.

Since social media is an effective source of information and it is popular especially among youth, I have decided to make a list of Instagram accounts that I think would be helpful to new youth immigrants in Vancouver. So if you are on Instagram and want to learn more about Vancouver, here are ten Vancouver-based Instagram accounts that are worth following:

1) Vancouver Aquarium (@vanaqua)
Vancouver Aquarium is the largest and most popular aquarium in Vancouver. Whoever handles their Instagram account is a genius because each post makes you love and care for aquatic animals -- regardless of whether you are an animal lover or not.

2) Vancouver Is Awesome (@viawesome)
Each day, this account features a photo taken by Vancouver residents and tourists. Browse through its posts and you'll immediately see the photos that make Vancouver awesome, which were taken by different people at different places during different times of the day!

3) Vancouver 4 Life (@Vancouver4Life)

Vancouver 4 Life posts photos of Vancouver events, stores, food, public places, and nature that are sure to make you fall in love with the city. The account perfectly captures the lifestyle of Vancouverites. 

4) Chris Bruntlett (@cbruntlett)
Chris's account shows Vancouver's beauty from different angles, under various weather conditions, and at different times of the day.

5) 604now (@604now)
Follow this account if you want to catch the latest updates on Vancouver news, events, and entertainment scene!

6) Vancouver Coffee (@vancoffee)
Love coffee? @vancoffee features different specialties of various local Vancouver coffee shops. Follow this account and discover your next favourite drink!

7) Vancouver Park Board (@vanparkboard)
If you want to do some recreational activities, or are looking for great hangout spots with your friends, follow @vanparkboard.

8) Vancouver Foodster (@vanfoodster)
@vanfoodster is handled by Richard Wolak, the founder of If you are looking to find your next favourite food and/or Vancouver restaurant, this account is for you!

9) StreetCheek (@streetcheek)
Curious about the latest fashion trends and most popular fashion choices of Vancouverites? Don't fret, @streetcheek has you covered.

10) Dreamin' On Transit (@dreaminontransit)
If you are going to follow only one of the ten Instagram accounts that I have listed here, follow @dreaminontransit. This account takes photos of all the people taking a nap on Vancouver transit. You better make sure you look presentable when you sleep on transit!


TED Talks Tuesdays: My Escape From North Korea

Today's TED Talk is by Hyeonseo Lee, who was born in North Korea. When she was younger, she thought that her country "was the best in the world". However, when she was 14, there was a period of terrible famine in North Korea. To survive, she escaped to China to be in company of her distant relatives.

There, her life was put to danger when she was brought by the Chinese police to a station for interrogation. Since North Korean refugees are considered in China as illegal migrants, she was very close to being imprisoned or repatriated. Thankfully, she was able to answer all the questions calmly and was let go. The years that followed were spent covering her real identity from the Chinese officials. After 10 years of doing this, she decided to take another risk by going to Seoul, South Korea.

There, she greatly struggled to adjust with her new life, confessing that she even experienced identity crisis. As she was trying to cope up with her life in Seoul, she received a call saying that the North Korean authorities intercepted the money that she had sent to her family. You won't believe what happened next..

Watch Hyeonseo Lee tell her riveting story about escape that inspires hope, bravery, and persistence:

Favourite quote from the talk: "I lost all hope. At that moment, I heard one man's voice ask me, 'what's wrong?' I was so surprised that a total stranger cared enough to ask." [...] I realized that the kind stranger symbolized new hope for me and for the North Korean people when we needed it most."
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Vancouver Immigrant Youth (VANITY) Blog is an online space made for youth, by youth. Here, you will find stories and experiences written by youth immigrants who once felt how challenging it was to be a newcomer in Vancouver. If you are a newcomer in Vancouver (or anywhere in Canada), we hope to give you all the resources you need to feel comfortable in this country. We hope to give you tips and advices on how we adjusted to our lives here as youth immigrants. Through this site, we want to empower you to bring out your full potential.





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