NRI Voice: Charmed by Canada
The exposure to different cultures in Canada helped Rukshan Mehta evolve as a person.
Rukshan Mehta led a sheltered life in Mumbai until she moved to Toronto, Canada, in 2001 with her parents at the age of 13 years. From making her own decisions in Canada and exploring the country, to working and studying in different nations, Mehta feels the move exposed her to different cultures and infused her with great confidence. She tells Little India about her life in Canada and the multi-cultural environment that she grew up in.
Discovering a New Country
I was only a teenager when we moved to Toronto with my parents from Mumbai. It was when I moved there that I realized the number of opportunities that I had. I feel privileged that I got a chance to study in Canada. My parents were quite clear that they did not want to stay in an Indian neighborhood and because of that I was exposed to different cultures — a very close friend was Korean, and I had friends from other countries like Russia. In Mumbai, I led quite a sheltered life, but in Canada I was making my own decisions, making mistakes and learning from them in the process. People from various nations have made Toronto their home and that is the best part about Canada.
As a family, all of us were trying to settle in and finding ways to adjust to a new country and a new culture. So my parents did not have the time to handhold me as much as they did in India. This helped me in many ways and more importantly, it helped me evolve as a person.
Studying in Canada
I studied at the University of Toronto, which is one of the best institutions in Canada. It was a melting pot of different cultures and gave me a great deal of exposure academically. It was only when I went to college that it hit me that I was an immigrant. I would be asked questions like, “How can you speak such good English?”
I feel that as an immigrant one has to work harder, whether it is academics or any other field. Having said that, I also feel that the kind of exposure that I got in the university opened a whole world of opportunities for me. I put in more effort to prove myself and get noticed. It was during this time that I discovered the field of international development and decided to pursue it seriously.
In the third year of college, in 2008, I traveled to Kenya to volunteer with Students for International Development (SID). I volunteered with them till 2014 when I moved to New Delhi as I got a fellowship with the Aga Khan Foundation and worked in India for a few years. In 2016, I decided to enroll for a Ph.D program at Emory University in Atlanta, United States, and have been studying there since then.
Life in Canada
The culture in Canada is such that everyone leads their life quite independently. Most families have a nuclear set-up and since the society has a mix of many cultures, everyone ends up celebrating each other’s festivals. Since I belong to the Parsi community, we look forward to the Parsi New Year and other festivals of our community. Canada is one of the best places to savor the world cuisine, whether it is Korean, Chinese, Japanese or Indian. The country has a wonderful mix of everything.